[lg policy] British.Columbia public schools urged to offer Farsi

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Sep 26 10:24:48 EDT 2018


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= B.C. public schools urged to offer Farsi
CP Wire / The Canadian Press

September 24, 2018 10:57 PM

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[image: Photo - school zone generic]
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Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

VANCOUVER — Students in British Columbia’s public schools could have
another option for language studies, if a new campaign is successful.

The Farsi Dar B.C. campaign is aiming for Farsi, also called Persian, to be
added to the list of nine languages included in the Education Ministry’s
policy covering second-language requirements for Grades 5 through 8.
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Farsi is spoken in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and some Persian Gulf states.
The latest Canadian census shows it is the mother tongue of more than
43,000 B.C. residents.

More than 28,000 people in the province consider it their first language at
home.

Amir Bajehkian, founding member of Farsi Dar B.C., considers those numbers
low.

“A lot of the people here, they don’t really declare their language in the
Stats Canada census,” he said in an interview.

“We believe that is more like 70,000 to 90,000 Iranians and 20,000 to
30,000 Afghans, just in the Lower Mainland.”

But even at the lower estimates, the census data show Farsi is spoken more
frequently in B.C. than French, German, Italian, Spanish or Japanese.

Those five languages, as well as Mandarin, Punjabi, Korean and American
Sign Language, are included in the list of languages approved for the B.C.
school curriculum, and Bajehkian said it’s time Farsi was also acknowledged
as well.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking to see kids who were born here cannot really
learn the language as much as they would love to.”

Adding the language to the B.C. curriculum would also be a small step
toward sharing a long and respected history,“ he said.

“The non-Persian speaking community does not get the opportunity to get to
know the culture, heritage and literature as much as I think it deserves,”
Bajehkian said, adding Farsi was a key part of the Mughal empires that
ruled the Indian subcontinent for more than 300 years, ending in the
mid-1800s.

“For a period, it was the official language of the Mughal courts in India.
Many of the elders of the Punjabi community still speak the language and
can recite poetry in Persian.”

Some local school board representatives, provincial politicians and
municipal election candidates turned out Sunday at a public information
session to support adding Farsi to the language policy, Bajehkian said.

Members of the Farsi Dar B.C. campaign also met with Education Minister Rob
Fleming last year.
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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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