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.

Joginder Singh Kanwal

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 am greatly humbled and honoured to be an especial 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 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.

It would be remiss if I do not mention: The Late I S Walia, the Chief Education Officer secondary, who chaired and prudently advised the members of the Steering Committee on educational matters.

I would also like to mention the names of my colleagues the Late J K Singh, along with other members of the institution, Gurmej Singh Virk, who now lives in USA, the Late Balwant Singh Chahal also (USA) for their wisdom, hard work and togetherness with resolute commitments.

I had the honour and privilege to serve as a Secretary of the Founders of the Institution under the Presidentship of the Late Bakshi Singh, known as Bassu, the Late Sardara Singh both at the Khalsa institution and Tagi Tagi Gurdwara and the Late Bhagat Singh Dhadda.

Culture and Religion

Culture and religion play very important roles in our daily lives teaching morality, humanity and dignity of mankind. Fiji is very fortunate that all Fijians are God-fearing and uphold religious values taught by various denominations are deeply entrenched in their outlook and respective cultures.

It is true that these values and principles have played a fundamental role in enhancing Fiji’s progress and continued peace and prosperity in our beautiful Islands, maintaining harmonious relationship.

In this respect the Punjabi community has played an integral part in building bridges among the races spreading the message of oneness that one light is the light of all.

A quote from Gurbani

Ek Purab Mai Tera Dekha

Thoo Sabhna Meh Rabanta

I Have Seen One Glory of Yours

That You Are Pervading and

Permeating in All

Sggs 596

Mahatma Gandhi

Education means all round drawing out the best in child and man body and spirit as such education becomes the basis of personality developments on all dimensions, moral, mental and emotional. Therefore, we can say that long run education forms foundation on which castles of peace and prosperity are built since ancient times.

It is said: ‘Sa Vidyya Yavimukatye,’ which means that with education we finally attain liberation

Gurbani: Viddia – Vichari Tan Par Upkari

Contemplate and reflect upon knowledge, and you will become a benefactor to others.

Swami Vivekananda: A nation is advanced in proportion to education and intelligence spread among messes

Nelson Mandela: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. The power of education extends development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to Nation Building and Reconciliation.

Achievements under Kanwal

Khalsa College, under the Principal of the Late J S Kanwal has produced many Accountants, Teachers, Doctors, Scientists, Journalists, Bureaucrats, Lawyers, a Magistrate, a Judge, numerous Community Leaders and members of parliament (MPs)

Many of them are in Government services in Fiji as well as abroad, both in Government and in the private sector.

Thanks to vision of our forefathers whose inclination towards education made their children and grandchildren successful, not only in Fiji but outside wider world in many corners of the World where they settled. This Fiji Indian Diaspora, wherever settled, they have retained and maintained their culture, tradition of hard work, and friendliness inculcated by their ancestors.  

The Khalsa Schools also taught Indian traditional Art, as well as exhilarating heart throbbing Punjabi Folk dance Bhangra which is a form of entertainment all over the world.

International Khalsa Reunion in Auckland in November 2019

I bring greetings from a group of former Khalsa students who met in Auckland on November 28, 2018 and decided to form a Khalsa Ex-Students Association with the following office bearers.

The Committee (comprising Madhavan Raman (Chairman), Dinesh Chand (Vice-Chairman), Satish Chand (Secretary), Asha Singh (Assistant Secretary) and Thakur Ranjit Singh (Communications and Media Officer), decided to hold Khalsa Re-Union in Auckland on November 23, 2019 at Mangere Centre Park Sports Stadium, 161 Robertson Road, Mangere, Auckland.

All former students, former teachers and their respective spouses from around the world are invited and welcome to attend.

For enquiries please email: khaisabafijinz@gmail.com or call Thakur on +6421-2354559  

This will also coincide with the Gurpurab the 550th celebration of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

On this auspicious occasion of The Diamond Jubilee celebration, let us remember all those pioneers who contributed in one way or another in the establishment of these institutions.

Let us pay our respect and pray for all those great souls who are no longer with us but have left the legacy behind for the current and future custodians to maintain the tempo and undertake future developments of our prestigious institution.

We salute them for their vision.

I wish you all the best in your future endeavours, May Waheguru’s Blessings always prevail upon you.

Harnam Singh Golian is a community leader and philanthropist, a Former Member of Parliament and a successful businessman in Fiji (formerly Sardar Trading in Raiwaqa, Suva) and now Golian Consultants in Royal Oak, Auckland. He is an author of various publications. He was the Chief Guest at Khalsa College in Ba, Fiji for unveiling the Diamond Jubilee Plaque. The above is an abridged version of his speech, edited by Thakur Ranjit Singh.

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