A submission has been made before Parliament’s Select Committee to include Punjabi as the second language in New Zealand’s primary and intermediate schools.

Notably, a parliamentary select committee is currently accepting submissions from supporters of different languages as a part of the consideration under the proposed second language learning bill. 

The select committee accepted submissions from supporters of different languages group which can be included in a list of 10 priority languages under the proposed second language learning bill that can give children the opportunity to learn a second language in primary and intermediate schools if enacted as a law.

In this regard, Daljit Singh of Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand was joined by Paramjit Singh and Matt Robinson to represent all Punjabi speaking community and Gurudwaras on Wednesday, April 14 to present a case for including the Punjabi language as one of the ten priority languages.

Speaking to the Indian Weekender, Daljit Singh said, “It is a collective effort of all Gurudwaras, Punjabi speaking community and other institutions working in promoting the Punjabi language within our communities.”

“We all are aware of the importance of mother tongue therefore, we commend efforts for the proposal of the Education (Strengthening Second Language Learning in Primary and Intermediate Schools) Amendment Bill,” Daljit Singh said.

Punjabi is the official language of the Indian state of Punjab and is one of the ten most spoken languages in the world, with more than 100 million native speakers worldwide.

The language has its origin rooted in ‘Indic languages form’ - a major language family of South Asia – and is written in multiple scripts and have distinct Persian-Arabic influence.

Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan, spoken by almost 39 per cent of the entire population of the country.

It is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where Punjabi people have emigrated in large numbers, such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

According to the 2018 census in NZ, around 34,227 residents have identified as speakers of the Panjabi language.

The SSNZ’s Sikh Heritage School is operational since 1989 and teaches proficiency level Panjabi, to more than 450 students each year.

The language is also taught to children of native language speakers on the weekend across different Gurudwaras around the country.