| Auckland, New Zealand | 6 July 2016 | Asia Samachar |
The teaching methodology of Punjabi language in New Zealand can be improved to gain government recognition, with the adoption of the Malaysian model as one possibility.
This was the key deliberation at a one-day Punjabi language conference in Auckland on 3 July 2016.
The conference evaluated the present teaching methods and heard the presentation of a speaker from Malaysia on its experience in teaching the language through weekend schools.
The conference also looked at the possibility of getting the recognition of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Among others, NZQA administers the national school-leaver qualifications called the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs).
“This conference has been long overdue,” said Verpal Singh, the Secretary of World Council of Sikh Affairs and also Chairman of Centre Management Committee of Diversity Centre in Aotearoa.
“There is a need to systematise teaching of Punjabi language and Gurmat and establish standards against which success or failure of teaching material and teaching practice may be measured.”
One of the key speakers was Autar Singh, the Secretary General of the Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO) and also chairman of the Punjabi Education Centres (PECs).
“I believe Malaysia has a comprehensive and rigourous programme to teach Punjabi. I shared our experience with the conference participants,” Autar Singh, a retired associate professor of a Malaysian university, tells Asia Samachar.
In Malaysia, some 3,000 students attend 47 PECs nationwide, mostly over the weekends, run by a unit of the Khalsa Diwan Malaysia (KDM).
The one-day conference, entitled ‘Punjabi Language Teaching in New Zealand: The Way Forward’, was mooted by Paguman Singh, a senior social protection consultant with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“The next step is gathering like-minded individuals to approach gurdwara committees to get them to accept a system similar to the one in Malaysia,” said Paguman who was also the former secretary of the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC).
The conference attracted some 80 people, including principals, teachers and management of the gurdwara run schools.
Also present was Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, who holds the distinction of being the country’s first Indian Sikh Member of Parliament (MP).
In his speech, he applauded the Malaysian experience in the KDM-managed teaching and learning of Punjabi language.
He expressed his wish to see a similar programme developed in New Zealand and pledged his total support towards the realisation of the vision.
One of the participants was Jasmail Singh, a former lecturer at Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic, who has been living in Auckland for over 16 years.
“I am glad that I and my wife attended the conference. It was a joy to see that our Malaysian Sikhs have developed such a vigorous Punjabi language teaching and learning programme,” he said.
“The present generation, and generations to come, need a teaching methodology that will inspire them to learn and immerse in Gurmukhi/Punjabi, not just to acquire the language skills but also to read and understand Gurbani. I believe the Malaysian experience would be an excellent start.”
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
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