Malaysian Punjabis Learn Their Language Their Own Way

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IPOH – While the Punjabi language paper is offered up to the PT3 and SPM level, 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 much through the efforts of the Sikh society Khalsa Diwan Malaysia, the Punjabis are keeping their mother tongue alive.

Sikhs are among the extreme minorities and scattered throughout the country and they 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 Sikh organisations in Malaysia to take over the responsibility to champion the learning of the Punjabi language.

HAVE THEIR OWN SYLLABUS AND BOOKS

The Punjabis, also referred to as the Sikhs, have their own Punjabi Education Centre Nationwide where the Punjabi children learn the language officially.

The persevering Sikh community in the country have also developed their own syllabus for the language, to suit the Malaysian context.

Bhag Sing 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 better understand 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 with its authors from India had previously been sourced from Singapore for students at Punjabi Education Centres nationwide.

PREPARATION FOR PT3

The new textbooks are set to equip students with knowledge they need to keep up with the syllabus and co-curriculum for the PT3 and SPM examinations.

Bhag Singh, who is also Punjabi Education Trust Malaysia chairman, 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 were assigned to a special team that consults with public school teachers fortnightly so that the textbook material suits the Education Ministry’s syllabus.

FUTURE LEARNING

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 were 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 we will help open up more centres as well as provide teaching staff and equipment,” he added.- By Nodiana Barka, BERNAMA

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