Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales (NSW) and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. The schooling system in NSW, like other states of Australia, provides two options – government schools or non-government schools. Government-run schools provide free education for all students, while non-government schools accept students on a fee basis, which varies from school to school.
Non-government schools in NSW include faith-based Christian, Jewish and Islamic schools, as well as independent schools of various types, which include non-denominational schools.
Schooling in NSW is generally divided into two stages:
1. Primary School – starting from Kindergarten (K), followed by Year 1 to Year 6.
2. Secondary School – from Year 7 to Year 12.
Many schools offer both stages of schooling on the same campus.
Historically, the Australian migrant population largely originated from European countries until the 1970s, when the White Australia policy was abolished and skilled migration began. This led to a large Indian subcontinent population migrating to Australia. It has been reported that currently, the majority of migrants to Australia come from India and China.
Although the first Sikhs arrived in Australia in the 1890s from colonial British India, they started arriving in significant numbers from the 1980s, which peaked when large numbers of students arrived in 2005. The majority of the migrant Sikh and Indian population is settled in major cities. Australian Census figures show that the population of Sikhs and other people of Indian origin in Australia is about half a million people. The majority of the Sikh and Indian population in NSW have settled in western Sydney.
A. Growing community in western Sydney
There are currently about 35,000 Sikhs and other people of Indian origin settled in Blacktown and adjoining council areas. About 70% of these people are in the 25-40 age groups. These families have a high number of school-aged children. This emphasises the need for a school that can fulfil their academic, cultural, sporting and religious needs. This school will aspire to fill this vacuum, not only to impart the highest quality academic education, but also to teach them their mother tongue, the values of respect and taking care of others, including their elders, and to enhance their sporting, cultural, and all-round abilities.
With the new infrastructure and suburbs, and a new metro in development in the area, and with comparatively affordable land prices, large numbers of younger families are settling within the vicinity of the school acreage. The increasing volume of people showing up at our weekly information sessions indicates to us that new families with younger school-aged children are planning to settle in this area so that they can send their children to this school.
B. Community support for the school
This project is proud to have received overwhelming financial, moral and logistic support from our community in Sydney. We have also received support from Sikh communities living in the rest of Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, and Europe. Every dollar collected so far has been through donations and nearly all of the time and effort put into this project has been donated. There is great enthusiasm in the community to see the school operational and to secure places for their children in this school.
In 2009, we conducted a survey in Sydney to get a sense of the demand for this school. We surveyed a pool of about 600 families, 25% of which had school-age children at the time. A majority of the parents were willing to send their children to this school. There has been overwhelming growth of the Sikh community in Sydney since this survey, in particular within the vicinity of the school land, thus increasing the potential student availability for the school.