Vancouver School Board candidates for the Coalition Of Progressive Electors announced today that they will expand Punjabi as a second language course in as many as five schools if a COPE majority is re-elected on November 19.
School Board Trustee Jane Bouey says COPE is committed to ensuring that languages other than English are promoted and supported in Vancouver schools.
"The Vancouver School Board already offers a Mandarin Bilingual Program course for children in grades 4 to 7 and this builds on that success by expanding second language courses to offer Punjabi," Bouey said.
"These Punjabi language courses will not only appeal to students from the Indo-Canadian community but to all students who have an interest in learning languages," said Bouey. "Learning Punjabi or Mandarin will clearly help Vancouver students to develop language skills that will help them strengthen family ties and future cultural and commercial relationships in Asia."
COPE School Board Trustee Allan Wong said that currently about 61 percent of children registered in Vancouver schools speak another language and 55 percent have English as their second language.
"The COPE School Board is committed to supporting our diverse communities throughout Vancouver and expanding second language instruction. We’ve made a great start with the Mandarin language program and now we want to extend second language opportunities in the Punjabi language," Wong said.
The COPE School Board will also be giving consideration in the future to other second language courses, such as Korean and Italian, Wong said.
The COPE Punjabi language plan is a welcome one, says Harjinder Sangra, a teacher at Moberly Elementary School.
"As a teacher, a member of the Punjabi community and a board member of the Punjabi Language Education Association, I am pleased that the COPE School Board candidates are prepared to offer this program," Sangra says. "Today’s commitment by COPE for expansion of the Punjabi Language Program acknowledges the importance of Punjabi language and culture in our schools and communities."
"Punjabi is the third most spoken language in the Lower Mainland and expansion of such programs not only enhances the language skills of our students, it provides more course choice for students and parents and instills a renewed pride in learning how to read, write and speak Punjabi," Sangra said. "Most importantly, today’s announcement affirms that Punjabi is an important part of our multi-lingual, multicultural schools and city and an important Canadian language."