Venkat Raman –
Education constitutes one of the most important activities of the Sikh community and the Khalsa School in the South Auckland suburb of Takanini is an example of such commitment.
The School and its Principal Jasvir Kaur marked their Silver Jubilee last year, in recognition of which, Judith Collins (then Ethnic Affairs Minister) honoured her with a trophy at a special function.
“We have always emphasised the importance of education and I am happy that we have people like Jasvir who ensure quality learning and teaching. It is great to honour such teachers,” she said.
Strength to strength
Established in 1989 with five students, the primary aim of the Khalsa School has been to promote the Punjabi language at Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Ji in Otahuhu. The School began with a modest intake of five children and one teacher.
Mrs Kaur’s commitment, combined with that of the community, enabled the School to grow from strength to strength, encouraging its relocation to Takanini in 2005, soon after the Takanini Gurdwara Sri Kalgidhar Shaib was established.
In 2009, the Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand, which manages the School decided to change the name to ‘Sikh Heritage School,’ reflecting the need to protect and promote traditional values.
Over the years, thousands of students have benefited from the School.
Today, it accounts for about 285 children and 18 teachers and is administered by a three-member Management Board, of which popular dentist Dr Kiranpal Kaur is the Chairperson.
The Society acquired the land adjoining the School to construct a larger facility and cater to the growing needs of the community.
On a general note, Khalsa Schools are dedicated to shape the character and personality of children and promote Academic, Sikh and Cultural programmes.
These Schools provide the right environment to support and encourage students to maintain a Khalsa identity with high self-esteem and self-confidence.
Khalsa Schools challenge children to achieve the highest level of performance in body, mind and spirit in coordination with the school, home and the Sikh Religion and Philosophy.
The Curriculum of Khalsa Schools usually comprises Sikh History, Sikh Religion, Gurbani, Kirtan, Sikh Culture and Sikh Literature, in addition to teaching Punjabi.
Guru Angad, the second Guru stressed mental as well as physical development through Education, Sports and Discipline.
Guru Nanak Dev, Founder of the Sikh religion said, “Salvation can only by gained by education and knowledge and not by futile acts or rituals like piercing ears. Make feat out of fear, hands ‘out of love and eyes out of education; in this way, O wise woman shall you meet the bridegroom (God).”
Guru Granth Sahib
According to Guru Granth Sahib, the true congregation of the true Guru, is the school for the soul, where the glorious virtues of the Lord are studied.
“He Himself is the school, He Himself is the teacher, and He Himself brings the students to be taught. Meeting with the Guru, be a sincere student of proper conduct, and suffering shall never touch you.
The Sikh Movement
The teaching of Punjabi and the religious studies were made an essential part of the Sikh movement by Guru Arjan Dev.
However, Guru Hargobind formalised it and it was during his time that every Gurdwara had a school attached.
“Saintliness within, worldliness without; arms are for the protection of the poor and for the destruction of the enemy; education is for the knowledge of scriptures, Nanak gave up the world, and he (Hargobind) gave up worldliness”.