Bernama | Malaysia | Asia Samachar | 23 April 2015
While the Punjabi language paper is offered up to the PT3 and SPM levels, the language is not officially taught in schools. So, where do the Punjabi students learn their mother tongue apart from home?
It is through the sheer determination. The community members, including through the efforts of the Sikh society Khalsa Diwan Malaysia, the Punjabis are keeping their mother tongue very much alive.
Sikhs are among Malaysia’s smaller minorities, who are scattered throughout the country, and hold steadfast to their culture, language and traditions.
“Punjabi is included in both the PT3 and SPM exams but the subject is not being taught in school, because at least 15 Punjabi students are needed in a class, for the subject to be taught,” said Khalsa Diwan Malaysia president Bhag Singh Sandhu.
Because of the inability to meet this requirement by the Education Ministry, Khalsa Diwan has received a mandate from various Sikh organisations in Malaysia, to take the responsibility of championing the learning of the Punjabi language.
The Punjabis, also known as the Sikhs, have their own Punjabi education centres nationwide where the Punjabi children learn their mother tongue officially.
The Sikh community in the country have also developed their own syllabus for the language, to suit the Malaysian context.
Punjabi Education Trust Malaysia chairman Bhag Singh said it took four years to develop the content and syllabus, that would meet the basic school assessment requirements outlined by the Education Ministry.
And for the first time, from this year onwards, local textbooks produced by Malaysian writers were being used at the kindergarten and primary level, as they had a better understanding of the local context and learning environment.
“The textbook took time to complete because it is our first time coming up with our own, and it needs to comply with the syllabus set by the Education Ministry as well as Examination Board,” he said.
Punjabi language textbooks which were printed in India had been previously sourced from Singapore.
The new textbooks are set to equip students with the knowledge that they need to keep up with the syllabus, and co-curriculum for the PT3 and SPM examinations.
Bhag Singh expressed his pride when all PT3 candidates for the Punjabi subject passed their exams last year.
On Punjabi language textbooks for secondary school students, he said drafts have been completed and it is expected to be used next year.
Preparation of the textbooks was assigned to a special team, which consults with public school teachers fortnightly, so that the textbook material suits the Education Ministry’s syllabus.
According to Bhag Singh, there are a total of 47 Punjabi education centres nationwide with over 3,000 students and 350 teachers.
“Perak has the most centres, 12 in all, involving 500 students and 60 teachers,” he said. A majority of the teachers are women with diplomas and more centres will be set up, should there be a demand from the Sikh community.
“If there is a demand and the number of students is high, then wewill help open up more centres, as well as provide teaching staff and equipment,” he added. – Bernama, April 22, 2015.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
A New Challenge For Punjabi – SIKHCHIC (Asia Samachar, 2 Apr 2015)
Giving voice to Punjabi language (Asia Samachar, 2 Apr 2015)
42 teams in 24th annual Punjabi language carnival (Asia Samachar, 2 Mar 2015)
60 teachers work on Punjabi lesson plans (Asia Samachar, 2 Feb 2015)
Punjabi as a catalyst for regional and global trade – LETTER (Asia Samachar, 8 Jan 2015)
Kajang kirtan darbar to raise funds for Punjabi language (Asia Samachar, 23 Dec 2014)
Selangor state urged to assist teaching of Punjabi language (Asia Samachar, 17 Dec 2014)
Seechewal opens Cebu Punjabi school (Asia Samachar, 3 Dec 2014)
Philippines gets its first Punjabi school (Asia Samachar, 1 Dec 2014)