Abbotsford school district considers expansion of Punjabi classes

The Abbotsford school district is considering the expansion of Punjabi language classes, but nothing has been decided yet.

Abbotsford school district superintendent Kevin Godden

The Abbotsford school district is considering the expansion of Punjabi language classes, but nothing has been decided yet, says superintendent Kevin Godden.

Godden said a review is underway to determine if there is enough interest from parents and students to offer the classes at more schools.

He said for each new class, 25 to 30 students are required, as well as qualified teachers. Punjabi classes are currently offered at five Abbotsford schools – Dave Kandal, Blue Jay and Harry Sayers elementaries; Eugene Reimer Middle; and Rick Hansen Secondary.

A group of parents has asked that the classes be included at some other schools, and the district has an obligation to look into the feasibility of doing so, just as it would with any other curriculum request, Godden said.

All B.C. students in Grade 5 to 8 are required to learn a second language. At schools where Punjabi is provided in Abbotsford, French also continues to be provided as a second-language program.

Parents choose which one they want their children to learn, Godden said.

The district has faced some criticism from those who believe only French should be offered because it is Canada’s official second language, and that the costs to learn or improve Punjabi should be borne by parents.

However, Godden points out that the Abbotsford school district currently offers German, Spanish and Japanese – in addition to French – at high schools, without any cost to familles.

Godden said learning a new language – or developing the reading and writing skills of a current one – is a “critical part of the educational experience for kids.”

He said research has shown that even when children are verbally fluent in their first language, there are benefits to improving the written form.

“They will learn English better if they have a better depth of understanding of Punjabi (or other language) first.”

Traditional school parent Balbir Gill made a presentation to the board of education in April 2010 on behalf of a group of parents. He said that although many students learn Punjabi at home, most don’t know how to read and write in the language.

Learning the language in its entirety provides more job opportunities for them, he said, such as with the police department and the hospital.

Abbotsford has a South Asian population of 16.3 per cent, according to  the 2006 census (the most recent figures available).

The district with the highest South Asian population – Surrey, with 27.5 per cent – also offers Punjabi classes from Grade 5 on.

Godden said in districts with a high Asian population, such as Richmond and Burnaby, Mandarin classes are provided.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness watches the results on election night. The ex-Liberal’s tumultuous campaign and the narrow margin for victory ahead of the mail-in ballot count leaves the future of the riding’s seat in limbo for at least the next week. (Facebook/Laurie Throness)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Future for incumbent Throness uncertain as riding awaits results

Chilliwack-Kent candidate hopeful, resigned waiting on final count

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Trick-or-treat drive-thru takes place at Tradex in Abbotsford

Treats and giveaways handed out at event on Saturday, Oct. 31

The Abbotsford Trail Running Club has transformed the Valley Vertikiller into the Valley Verticuddler for 2020. (Matt Bolam photo)
Abbotsford Trail Running Club transforms Valley Vertikiller into Verticuddler for 2020

Local club has raised close to $3,000 for Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue with event

File Photo
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Agassiz Seniors Community

First declared outbreak in Agassiz-Harrison since pandemic began

The family and friends of Abbotsford resident Kaitlyn Cassels have launched a GoFundMe for her after she suffered serious injuries following a bad fall on Thursday night. (Submitted)
GoFundMe created for Abbotsford woman after horrible fall

19-year-old Kaitlyn Cassels suffers many injuries after falling 27 feet off Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Most Read