With 94 students enrolled and operating out of the ground floor of a residential building, Delhi’s only remaining Punjabi-medium school is easy to miss.
Students of Prathamik Vidyalaya Jahangirpuri A Punjabi carry two sets of books with them — on math, science and social science in both Punjabi and Hindi. Until nine years ago, this primary school, run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, used to teach all subjects only in Punjabi. But over time, teachers of the school found it to be unfeasible.
“It will become difficult for children when they complete studying here and move on to another school because there are no Punjabi-medium schools for them to go to. If they study only in Punjabi, they will struggle with studies in Hindi- or English-medium once they reach class VI,” said school head Dinesh Singh.
The two full-time teachers of the school, appointed by the municipal corporation, are both Hindi-medium primary teachers and they teach the students science, mathematics and social science in Hindi. Each class has one Punjabi period per day, which is conducted by two part-time teachers employed by the Punjabi Academy. According to their part-time contract, they teach for only three hours a day. In that time, they try to find a way to teach lessons in all subjects in Punjabi.
“I remember the time when there were four other Punjabi-medium schools in the city. All these were set up in Punjabi majority areas — such as Lal Bagh and Peeragarhi — but now even the parents want their children to be taught in Hindi, so that school is easier for them afterwards. So now, focus is on teaching in Hindi while we teach in Punjabi with the goal to make them strong in the language,” said Sandhya Seth, one of the Punjabi teachers.
The school operates out of four classrooms — classes I and II share one room; III, IV and V have one each. Lines of laundry of residents of other floors of the building hang to dry just beyond the classrooms.
Like all MCD schools, it only offers classes till the 5th standard. “Punjabi mostly remains only in the name of the school. Perhaps it could sustain if Punjabi-medium schools from classes VI to XII are set up, but where is the room for this in Delhi today? It will survive only as a subject and not a medium,” said Singh.