Papatoetoe North School in South Auckland has become the first of its kind school in New Zealand to start a “Hindi bilingual class.”
This class, as per reports in the Indian Weekender, will offer an opportunity for young children to acquire subject learning in Hindi medium.
This was announced in the presence of esteemed guests such as the Hon Consul of India Bhav Dhillon; Satya Dutt, leading Hindi language activist; Kanwaljit Bakshi, former National Party MP; and more than 200 members of the local community.
Bhav Dhillon told audience:
“This is a great milestone in the growth and acceptance of the Hindi language in Aotearoa New Zealand as a mode of communication. It will remove the barrier in learning for many children who comes from households where Hindi is a primary language of communication.”
Dhillon added that the classes in this primary school will give an opportunity to young children to learn Hindi as an additional language.
Stan Tiatia, the principal of Papatoetoe North School, said that they were proud of this initiative to open the first Hindi bilingual class which is built on a the idea of Maori bilingual class.
“The roadmap to establishing the bilingual Hindi class was developed by our bilingual Maori classes ‘Te Whanau Tupuranga’, and we have been developing language learning progressions in Hindi Samoan and Te reo Maori.”
This school has around 30 per cent of students who speak Hindi at home. The principal thanked the local Indian community for their support and hoped to develop more such community initiatives. Mr Tiatia added:
“We have a committed management team and passionate classroom teachers, like Mrs Sheetal Singh, who have made this inaugural initiative possible.”
Sheetal Singh, the teacher coordinator running the Hindi bilingual class, explained the rationale behind these classes to the Indian Weekender:
“We were noting that many of our young student’s learning was being affected due to language barrier and therefore we have worked together to remove that barrier. This bilingual class is different than any other Hindi language learning in NZ school as in those schools Hindi is taught as a subject, while in this bilingual class Hindi is a medium of communication where all other subjects are also taught in Hindi medium along with English medium.”
Papatoetoe is predominately a suburb populated by Indian and Fiji-Indian communities. The movement to teach Hindi language in an organised way started in 2002 due to the growth in migrants from India and Fiji-Indian community in New Zealand.
The Hindi bilingual classes had been operational from the beginning of the term in February 2022. However, the official opening ceremony was delayed due to COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions in New Zealand.