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NRIs demand Hindi in US schools

There has been no response from the Plainsboro School Board so far, but parents are optimistic, writes Lalit Jha.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2005 18:19 IST

Scores of non-resident Indians, mainly those who trace their roots to North India, has urged the local school authorities in New Jersey area that Hindi be taught as a subject to their children.

Nearly 100 NRI parents of school going students in a recent petition submitted to School Board of Plainsboro in New Jersey area urged the authorities that Hindi as a language be made available to their children as an elective course.

Though, there has been no response from the School Board of Plainsboro so far, parents are optimistic that within the next few years, their children would get a chance to formally study Hindi as a language during school days.

"We have launched a parent's campaign to make Hindi as part of the school syllabus to all those who want to study it," Devendra Singh, leading "Hindi for our Kids" campaign in New Jersey area, said.

The petition signed by nearly 100 parents was submitted on behalf of the International Hindi Association, New Jersey chapter.

"Hindi is an important part of our Indian heritage and culture. It is our national language. We would like the West Windsor and Plainsboro school boards to teach Hindi language to our children," Singh said.

Singh said with the increasing number of Indians in the US there was more the need to teach their children Hindi as one of the elective subject. New Jersey has one among the highest concentration of Indians in the US.

According to the 2001 census, there are about 170,000 Indians in New Jersey. Neighbouring New York has 250,000 Indians.

"This is the way through which we can successfully maintain our tradition and culture. Language has always played a key role in preserving our heritage. If they know Hindi, our children would find themselves more close to our culture and tradition," he said.

The petition said, based on popular demand, the International Hindi Association of New Jersey has started Hindi classes in various parts of the State on a voluntary basis so that children can learn this language.

"Currently, we have Hindi classes running at Voorhees, Plainsboro, West Windsor, Iselin, Edison, Manalapan, Jersey City, Marlboro, South Brunswick and Kendall Park. There are more than 300 kids taking advantage of the Hindi classes," the petition said.

Thus, Singh said the Association was partly performing the role of teaching a language, which normally should be done by the school. "It is for these reasons that we approached the school authorities," he said.

Singh said, though Hindi was being taught in many American universities, Hindi as a language and a subject was being taught only in one US school in Texas.

With the rapidly increasing number of Indians in the US, Singh said it was the right time to launch a nation-wide campaign to provide an option to kids to learn Hindi as an elective subject in their schools.

"This is merely a beginning. We have a long way to go," said Singh, parent of two school going students.

First Published: Aug 24, 2005 18:19 IST