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PLEA hold a speech contest for students on Nov. 30

Surrey, Vancouver, Nov. 16, 2008
Balwant Sanghera

Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) will be holding a speech contest for students taking Punjabi, on Sunday, November 30 from 12 noon to 3 PM at Bombay Banquet Hall, 7475-135 Street in Surrey.
This contest will consist of three categories- beginners, advanced and impromptu. For the beginners and advanced categories, there will be four topics to choose from. These will be: Discrimination (Race and/or caste), Gender discrimination (preference of males over females etc.), Youth Violence and Environment. There will be two prizes each for the beginners and advanced categories and one for the impromptu. For the impromptu categories, any student under age 25 will be able to participate. Each participant will pull the topic for this group out of a box. On behalf of PLEA, I would like to invite the public to join us on November 30 and encourage our students.

PLEA has been working to promote Punjabi in BC’s public schools and post-secondary institutes for more than fifteen years. According to the latest available information, Surrey continues to lead in teaching Punjabi. This city of more than 400,000 residents has nearly one quarter of its population of South Asian heritage. Surrey now has the unique distinction of being a great model for Punjabi language instruction in this province. It is a matter of great pride for our community that at present, in addition to six secondary schools, Punjabi classes are also in full swing at three elementary schools- Beaver Creek, Newton and Strawberry Hill. More than 600 students at the secondary level and 250 at the elementary level are enrolled in Punjabi classes throughout Surrey schools.

In addition to Surrey, Punjabi classes are also under way in various other communities including Abbotsford, New Westminster, Vancouver and Burnaby. For example, in New Westminster’s Queensborough Middle School, nearly one quarter of total school population is enrolled in Punjabi classes ranging from grades 5 to 8.Abbotsford’s two elementary, one middle and one secondary school are enrolling more than 300 students in Punjabi classes. At the post-secondary level, UBC continues to offer first, second and third year Punjabi. Also, Kwantlen University College and University College of the Fraser Valley are offering Punjabi classes.
PLEA has been working hard for the past several years in promoting Punjabi at all levels. It has been very successful in this regard. However, it continues to face a number of challenges as well. These include the lack of well-qualified teachers, inadequate resources and the language policy. Also, PLEA would like to get some recognition for Punjabi language at the national level. Hopefully, before long, we will be able to overcome these challenges as well.

It is a matter of great pride for the promoters and speakers of Punjabi that it is amongst one of the ten most spoken languages out of a total of 6,000 all around the globe. More than 150 million Punjabi speakers are spread out in 150 countries around the world. Mini Punjabs in countries like Canada, USA, U.K, Australia and Singapore are testaments to the popularity and resilience of this language. Here in BC, in cities like Surrey and Abbotsford, Punjabi is the second most spoken language after English. In this context, census figures released some time ago by Statistics Canada are quite encouraging.

The 2006 Census indicates that one in five Canadians was born outside Canada. Canada’s population of 33 million welcomed people from 153 countries between 2001 and 2006. Next to China’s 41,500 immigrants, India provided the second largest group of immigrants-23, 990- during this time period. This is great news for all Indo-Canadians. This growth in immigration from India has given a big boost to the Punjabi language. The Census shows that by May 2006, the number of people who identified Punjabi as their mother tongue grew to 367,505. This places Punjabi as the sixth most spoken language (after English, French, Chinese, Italian and German) in Canada. The difference between the number of Punjabi speakers and those of German and Italian is very small. Hopefully, by the next census in 2011, Punjabi will overtake them both and place fourth overall.

PLEA is very pleased with the progress it has made over the years. For this, it is very thankful to the students, teachers, parents, Indo-Canadian media and the community. We must continue these efforts.

Once again, on behalf of PLEA, I would like to invite your readers to our celebration/speech contest on Sunday, November 30, from 12 to 3 PM at Bombay Banquet Hall, 7475,135 Street in Surrey. For further information, your readers should feel free to contact me at 604-275-8977 or Sadhu Binning at 604-437-9014.






Balwant Sanghera

Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association . He is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist in British Columbia ,Canada.