Surrey with more than 72,000 students is now the largest school district in British Columbia. Nearly 16,000 student attending Surrey schools are Indo-Canadians. Consequently, eight high schools and four elementary schools in Surrey are offering Punjabi as second language.
According to the provincial language policy, students from grades five to eight are expected to take a second language. They are offered several choices including Punjabi. If the students don’t choose a second language they are automatically enrolled in French as a second language.
The Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) has tirelessly been promoting Punjabi in BC’s public schools, post- secondary institutions and the community and today result, Punjabi classes are under way in eight high schools and four elementary schools in Surrey and many other places in Metro Vancouver.
Second language is compulsory from grades five to eight and optional from grades 9 to 12. The Surrey School District conducted a survey in October 2017 in all its elementary schools to determine interest in a second language. The survey was sent to the parents of grades 2, 3 and 4 and offered a choice of 10 languages as the option for second language. These were: French, Punjabi, Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, German, Italian, Aboriginal and ASL (American Sign Language).
Forty-eight per cent of the survey participants that responded chose French, whereas 21 % chose Punjabi. Fourteen per cent preferred Mandarin and 9% went for Spanish. The rest were between 1 and 3%. – CINEWS