Punjabi will now be taught in public schools in Western Australia. The language is prepped to be incorporated into the academic programme. The Australian government has decided to make Punjabi the newest language taught in public schools in Western Australia in an effort to recognise the language of the Punjab region of India and Pakistan.
The choice was made with Punjabi being the fastest-growing language in Australia with about 239,000 speakers on the mainland, according to Indian Express. According to reports, the number of Punjabi speakers in Australia increased by over 80% between 2016 and 2021.
SBS Punjabi reports that the decision to include Punjabi language instruction in public schools came after the announcement of the creation of curricula for Tamil, Hindi, and Korean in 2021. The following school year, Tamil, Korean, and Hindi curricula will be implemented.
This year, the pre-primary through year 12 curricula will be developed. After Tamil, Hindi, and Korean were added to the curriculum in 2021, it was decided to teach Punjabi in schools.
The first Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) course assessment is scheduled for 2025, and students are anticipated to be able to enrol in Year 11 courses in 2024. Schools will also have access to the pre-primary through Year 10 curriculum beginning in 2024, according to SBS Punjabi.
Education Minister Sue Ellery stated to SBS in December that students in Western Australia from pre-primary through year twelve will have the option of learning Punjabi. With more than 190 languages being spoken in the state, she continued, linguistic diversity is a major strength that offers a number of social, cultural, and economic advantages.
According to a press statement from Ms. Ellery, “I am pleased to see the ongoing expansion of languages curriculum for WA students, and the development of Punjabi curriculum is particularly fitting given it could support students in key future employment opportunities.”
Although the language is a recent addition, earlier Australian Sikh history was taught in years 5, 6, and 9 of the Humanities and Social Science curriculum in WA schools.
While Hindi continues to be one of the top 10 languages spoken in Australian homes, Punjabi is the language with the highest growth in Australia.
According to the Cultural Diversity Census, Mandarin (2.7%), Arabic (1.4%), Vietnamese (1.3%), Cantonese (1.2%), and Punjabi (1.2%) were the top five languages spoken at home in addition to English (0.9 per cent).
After Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, Western Australia, which has the biggest land area of any Australian state or territory and accounts for 10% of the continent’s total population, has a sizeable Punjabi population.
Indians tend to cluster around Perth, the state’s capital, drawn to the region by its outstanding climate, booming economy, and laid-back culture. It’s important to note that the Punjabi community has roots in WA that date back 120 years or so. The accounts of the first Sikh settlers, which are preserved in various historical archives, reveal the region’s rich history.
Amarjit Singh Pabla of the Sikh Association of Western Australia (SAWA) has played a significant role in advancing the inclusion of the language in the curriculum. Mr. Pabla applauded the decision and said that students will now have the chance to study both the language’s history and its origins.
He stated, “the Australian government is helping to keep our culture alive through this decision. It’s now our duty to avail this opportunity for our children through which we can keep our mother tongue alive.”
After the state government approved the teaching of Punjabi in public schools, the New South Wales Department of Education started a similar project in 2017 in partnership with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) to develop Punjabi curricula for children in kindergarten through year 10.