By Jaginder Singh Raipatti | MALAYSIA |
Punjabi Education Centres (PECs) nationwide are all getting ready to start Punjabi Language classes on Saturday (16 Jan 2021). This will be the 21st year of a well-planned and well-organised approach to Punjabi education in Malaysia, since its revival in the year 2000.
Khalsa Diwan Malaysia (KDM), which operates from its headquarters in Ipoh, is the national Sikh organisation which has been given the responsibility to implement this programme. It works closely with other Sikh Societies, Gurdwara Management Committees and the Sikh community to ensure Punjabi education is made available in all major cities and towns in Malaysia. KDM also deals directly with government agencies such as Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (MITRA) on matters related to Punjabi education, and to source for funds to carry out the Punjabi Language programme.
In 2020, KDM conducted Punjabi Language classes in more than 40 active PECs nationwide, including Sabah and Sarawak, with a student population of more than 2000 who were taught by almost 250 teachers.
The Covid-19 pandemic, and the ensuing MCOs and the SOPs, caught everyone by surprise, created a lot of panic and caused many difficulties to PECs in the year 2020, and it will continue to do so this year. Attendance for the Punjabi classes was poor, and teachers had to resort to online teaching to engage with their students. This by no means was an easy task, as not all students had access to the internet, or the know-how of the various tools available on the electronic media.
For 2021, Khalsa Diwan Malaysia has planned a total of 40 weekly classes, the dates of which are shown on their official calendar. A policy circular on the running of the schools was also sent to all PECs in December 2020, so that the PECs can start planning their classes for 2021.Most PECs have already held their preliminary meetings, and are all geared for action.
KDM has advised all PECs to abide by all the SOPs outlined by the Government and the Health Ministry when conducting the classes. The safety of all the students, teachers and administrators is of paramount importance. If there are safety issues, the physical classroom should be replaced with a virtual classroom. The year 2020 taught several invaluable lessons. KDM and the PECs are now wiser and better prepared to seek alternative approaches to teaching if the Covid-19 pandemic worsens and the PECs are ordered to close.
Khalsa Diwan Malaysia wishes to thank all the relevant parties for their continuous support and dedication in running the Punjabi Language programme, and engaging actively to preserve our Ma Boli, Punjabi.
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