Pioneers of education in Fiji remembered

Pioneers of education in Fiji remembered

A Diamond for Khalsa College, Ba

Harnam Singh Golian

Khalsa College, Ba, Fiji was established in 1959 by an enterprising group of Sikhs who saw education as a means to bringing success to their children and future generations.

We honour those stalwarts and teachers particularly Jogindar Singh Kanwal, the first substantive Principal whose dedication and hard work brought such lasting success to this proud institution.

The Institution marked its Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary) Celebration at the School on June 15, 2019.

Mr Kanwal served almost half of this time as Principal.

Because my close association with Sikh Community in Fiji since the inception of Khalsa Institutions , the current committee decided to give me the honour of being the chief guest and unveiling the Diamond Jubilee Plaque.

Premier Institution

I was greatly humbled and honoured to be a special invitee by virtue of being a Co-Founder of the Khalsa institution on the auspicious occasion of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the reputed Khalsa Primary and Khalsa College founded in the early 1959.

Khalsa College may be one of the earliest educational institutions established by the Sikhs of Fiji outside India.

The concept of education (Viddia) in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is a very important subject because the educational tradition is deep rooted in Sikh beliefs and shapes the Sikh way of life. The very word Sikh means a learner – a disciple and a student who discovers the truth from the hymns of Gurbani.

The Fiji Sikhs, known as Punjabis, particularly of the western districts of Lautoka, Ba and Tavua in the mid-1950s of British Era, although small in number, was a vibrant community. Because of the scarcity of schools, many school-age children could not get admission hence deprived of formal education.

Importance of education

Realising the importance of formal education, the Punjabi community seriously decided to do something as a service to the Indian community.

It was also a challenge for our martial community as well as their Girmitya brethren who had experienced deprivation together were kept behind socially, economically and politically.

In the post-Girmit Era, a majority of Fiji Indians merely lived on hand to mouth existence. There was no sustainable income of the Cane farmers, the labourers generally were dependent on Cane farms.

Under these constraining circumstances there was a greater need of the community to educate their children in order to seek employment or advance themselves out of the sugar industry for their sustenance.

Sikh Hospitality

The Sikhs all over the world are known for their hospitality, kindness and charity a practice that derives from the teachings and philosophy of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji – The Gurmat- a Sikh is inspired with courage to uphold the traditional values in the service of the humanity.

Having all that in mind the elders congregated from time to time at the Tagi Gurdwara (temple) and resolved that children should get a balanced education to lead a meaningful life without any prejudices of colour, caste or religion or any other form of discrimination.

Hence, they formed the Sikh Education Society of Fiji and established the Khalsa Primary and Khalsa College.


Photo Caption:

Joginder Singh Kanwal

(Picture Supplied)

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