Why a Sikh school?
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:
- Primary School – starting from Kindergarten (K), followed by Year 1 to Year 6.
- Secondary School – from Year 7 to Year 12.
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. Although the first Sikhs arrived in Australia in the 1890s from colonial British India, they started arriving in significant numbers from the 1980s. 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.
Currently, over 100,000 people of South Asian origin including Sikhs live in Blacktown and other adjoining council areas. About 50% of them are in the age group of 25 to 40 years, having school going children. There is enormous support for this school, as all funds raised have been donated by the community.
This emphasises the need for a school that can fulfil their academic, cultural, sporting and religious aspirations. 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, sharing 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 the area, and with comparatively affordable land prices, large numbers of younger families are settling within the vicinity of the school. 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.
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.
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. A majority of the parents were willing to send their children to this school. There has been an overwhelming growth of the Sikh community in Sydney, in particular within the vicinity of the school land, thus increasing the potential student availability for the school.
Academic, Sporting and spiritual excellence
We wish to develop all round ability and personality of our next generation. Each child can have special interest or abilities that need to be developed to exploit their full potential in the area of the interest of the child. Most of the parents in our community wish their children to be in medical, engineering or information technology professions. Currently there are not many people from the younger generation from the Indian subcontinent in any of the following professions:
- Australian national or state sporting teams.
- Judges or magistrates
- Members of state or national Parliament
- Australian of the year, nationally or state based
- National or international prize winners including nobel prize
- Scientists or inventors
- Media personalities
- Leaders in law enforcement
This school will invest time, attention and money to create leaders of tomorrow in all of the above and other fields. No other school will invest resources in this respect whereas we will create special focus areas based on the interest of the students and their families and invite specialists in the field to achieve this ambitious goal.
An example can explain it better. If we want our students in the national/state cricket team, we will select students to provide them elite bowling and batting coaches. These coaches will not be hired by any other school to assist our students. One family also cannot pay for these elite coaches, only a school of our size and vision can hire them to deliver the results.