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Teaching Sikh Heritage to the Youth
– A Challenge taken up by Satnam Sarb Kalyan Trust –

Dr Gurbakhsh Singh*

A really great service is being done by many unassuming Sikh organisations away from the glare of media and world of publicty. They are helping kids to learn human values of life and their heritage. They are holding evening classes for teaching gurbani and Sikh history to the students even at village level, conduct annual gurmat camps, run summer gurmat schools during vacations, hold gurbani recitation competition, etc.

When I was told that there are more than 200 teachers of Sikh heritage providing free religious education to the cooperating schools by a Sikh trust based in Chandigarh, it took some time for me to believe. I quickly imagined an organisation with a huge infrastructure with a vast hierarchy of teachers and the huge amount of money needed in its coffers. On knowing the details regarding the Satnam Sarb Kalyan Trust (Regd), 1078/2, Sector 39-B, Chandigarh. I could recollect its past quickly.

I knew Bhai Jiwan Singh Ji, its patron, since my student days at Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, when he was one of the favoured keertania Sikhs with Bhai Randhir Singh Ji (Founder Akhand Kirtani Jatha). His prem and devotion and his ability to recite all sabads orally and correctly impressed everyone; his stamina for singing keertan whole night was well known to all.

Earlier in Vancouver (Canada), Bhai Jiwan Singh had mooted the idea of Khalsa school there and agreed to support it financially by giving the sabad offerings made to him by the community for the school. The author joined as the first Sikh heritage teacher of the Khalsa School, Vancouver, when it was founded in 1987. The Satnam Trust further progressed to form the first Sikh cooperative bank and later it was followed by Satnam Sarab Kalyan Trust.

A folder of the Trust explains the results of services rendered by their staff. The Trust started selecting scholars and appointed teachers in 1995. With the basic funds provided by the Sikhs abroad and strengthened by the local Sikhs, the Trust now serves 300 schools with additional help of part-time teachers.

About one lakh students have benefitted so far from the services rendered by the Trust during 1907-2008 and 200 students learnt to sing sabads. The fundamental objective of the Trust is to remain in touch with the students during their stay in the school.

1. Activities of the Trust
a. 75800 students of 223 schools are being taught Gurbani, Sikh history and Sikh code of conduct as approved by the SGPC, Amritsar.
b. 3315 students in 14 schools are being taught Gurmat Sangeet in original Ragas.
c. Every student is taught Gurbani, Sikh history and kirtan at least for 3 days in a week.
d. Exhibition to promote Sikh sarup and Sikh values is held in every school for one week in a year. This has helped them tremendously to remain sabat surat and feeling proud of their Sikh identity.

2. Teaching Aids
Gurmat books are printed and distributed free by the Trust for students of classses 1 to 10 based on the syllabus for the last five years. This has tremendously improved the understanding of gurbani and Sikh history by the students.

3. Amrit Sanchar
Students are made aware of the importance of Amrit as a result of which 1200 to 1400 students become Amritdhari every year.
Trust lays special emphasis on the importance of “Kesas” as per the tenets of Sikh religion and student are persuaded to be “saabat surat”. About 3000 students have accepted this advice.

4. Gurmat Competitions
Trust organizes Gurmat Competitions every year at the Zonal level to inculcate competition as well as fellowship among students. Subjects covered are Gurbani kanth, kirtan, lectures, kavishari, poetry, turban tying and painting competitions, drug abuse and environmental protection.

5. Career Guidance
Career Guidance camps are held for students of class X to class XII at zonal level where children are made aware of different career options available to them. They are guided by retired officers to choose appropriate careers commensurate with their aptitude.

6. Management of Trust
It is under the control of educated, experienced and senior retired officers. They are assisted by two Programme Managers and 7 Supervisors.

Highly professional faculity with higher pay is being recruited to help the students to get better coaching in English, Math, Science and Computer Studies so that they can get admission in professional Colleges.

The Trust deserves full cooperation and maximum financial assistance from the Sikhs interested in the value based teachings and propagating the message of gurbani to Sikh children.

The services rendered by these organisations gives the satisfaction that Sikh Panth is alive to the new challenges of the twenty first century. May the number of such organisations increase.

 


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