LONDON, England: There is a locality in London where Punjabis are in a majority and the schools have included Punjabi in’ their curriculum. It is “South all” and it is situated in West London. Tory Member of Parliament from Wolverhampton, southwest, Mr. Nicholas Budgen, recently complained that a school in his constituency teaches Punjabi to 220 first and second year pupils as part of a compulsory language foundation course which includes French and German.

About 40 per cent of the children at the school are from Punjabi speaking background. Mr. Budgen said that the imposition of Punjabi is stirring up resentment against the Asian community.

While his complaint is being investigated by the Department of Education, Her Majesty’s inspectors, in their comments on the situation in South all, have supported the inclusion of Punjabi in the curriculum. They said that in an area where more than half the children come from Punjabi speaking homes, pupils achieve most where their cultures are reflected in the curriculum of the school and where Punjabi is commonly used by adults working in the school, or is part of the curriculum. The inspectors, who visited 10 South all schools during the autumn last year, described the standards in these schools as generally at least satisfactory and in some cases outstanding. Black youngsters, they said, “are able to blend their own cultural values successfully with those of society in which they live, to the mutual enrichment of both’”. The schools were also praised for a strong emphasis on English language teaching. Comprehensive schools in Southall, however, usually offer Punjabi as an optional alternative to French or German. Most of the business houses, restaurants and properties in the area are owned by people from the Indo Pakistan subcontinent mainly from Punjab. They include Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. In the shops one can find anything and everything that is used by people from the subcontinent in their foods, clothing and lifestyles. Punjabi is the main language spoken in the market.

The youngsters bom and ‘educated in London, however, usually prefer English though they too have not abandoned their mother tongue, and speak it fluently while conversing with their elders.

Article extracted from this publication >>  May 15, 1987