Sikh Research Institute’s Response

17 Mar

Sikh Research Institute’ Response:

Sikhs Appreciate Comprehensive Sojhi Curriculum

Mandhir Singh, principal of Bridgewater Khalsa School, NJ, speaking of the Sojhi curriculum says “Several of our teachers and separately parents have studied the Sojhi coursework over the past year and a half and have been very pleased thus far. We intend to continue implementing Sojhi at Bridgewater Khalsa School.”

Recently, Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) and its Sojhi curriculum have been questioned by a handful of individuals who may not have had an opportunity to understand the facts and the spirit behind the development of this curriculum. Unfortunately, misinformation has been circulated saying that SikhRI has changed the ardas and modified the Dohre. There have also been allegations that parents of children at Khalsa School Gurdwara Sahib Fremont, CA have removed their children from the school because of opposition to the Sojhi curriculum. There have been remarks circulating about SikhRI’s facilitators not respecting the Guru and not being open to questions. None of these allegations are true.

Jasmine Kaur, Sojhi’s project lead and SikhRI’s Director of Education states “we neither have the authority to change the Ardas nor have we done so. SikhRI maintains the integrity of all its documents through applying Gurmat-based inspiration and developing them in line with the Panthic Sikh Rahit Maryada”.

Sojhi’s primary goal is to increase the effectiveness of Sikh education by developing high standards of learning. This is made possible by providing consistent syllabi and course material, and effective teaching mechanisms. Sojhi has developed over 450 lessons plans for its elementary school (Kindergarten to Gr. 5) and middle school (Gr. 6- Gr.8) curriculums. This comprises of over 3,000 typed pages. “While the Sojhi team has carefully reviewed the draft curriculums before printing, there may be some typographical errors and poor choice of words used on a few pages” says Harinder Singh, Executive Director of SikhRI. “We will make sure that these are corrected as the next versions get developed as we have been asking for feedback” he added.

There has been some concern over Dohre. The Sikh Rahit Maryada does not mention which Dohre to recite after Ardas. In the Grade 7 Sojhi curriculum, there are two lessons which highlight the meanings behind the three couplets of Dohre. In looking at Guru Gobind Singh Sahib’s edict in giving guruship to Guru Granth and Guru Panth, one couplet has been made available in the curriculum. This couplet is by Bhai Prahilad Singh, a contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. “While the message was clear, we made some poor choice of words in the explanations and titles within the lesson plans in discussion” explains Jasmine Kaur. She announced “We have revised these particular lessons and are making them public, so that it can help with understanding the meaning behind the dohre.”

SikhRI has also developed a list of FAQs, which covers issues such as ardas, spellings and more. These are also being made available to the public. Gurpal Singh Bhuller, a SALDEF board member and a member of the board of directors of SikhRI invites “member schools to share their feedback on the Sojhi curriculum. I want to make sure that schools and community members understand that the curriculum has been a team effort from day one and the content is not controlled by any one individual.” The elementary and middle school draft curriculums were developed by a team of fourteen individuals, including those with experience in the education field, child development, and research in culture and language. “I reviewed the Sojhi curriculum and found it to be in adherence to the Sikh Rahit Maryada. The community should applaud SikhRI for taking the initiative to work on a standardized Khalsa school curriculum.” said Harpreet Singh, a Sojhi reviewer and also a Board member of the Sikh Coalition.

SikhRI has always maintained the highest and utmost respect towards all Guru Sahiban. This respect also comes out loud and clear in all their documentations and at their workshops. All workshops are facilitated with professionalism and have question and answer session slots for open discussions. “Hundreds of testimonials we receive vouch that SikhRI adopts a very inclusive, inviting, and respectful approach to the content and participants,” added Mr. Gurvendra Singh Suri, SikhRI president.

Regarding the allegations about Khalsa School of Gurdwara Sahib Fremont, Harjot Singh, Gurdwara President, shared “it is misinformation that parents have removed their children from Khalsa School. There were some parents who were not in favor of a structured program for the students of the school from day one and they did not enroll their children to begin with. It is incorrect to say that parents are removing their children based on the Sojhi curriculum. Also, the teachers have no issues with the curriculum.”

Sojhi is continually looking to make improvements on their draft curriculums. Dr. IJ Singh, member of the SikhRI Board of Adviser and United Sikhs Board of Director was the keynote speaker at the unveiling of the elementary school curriculum. He reflects “that the intentions of SikhRI as well as readers and users who find differences here and there with our efforts remain directed to arrive at what is best and what is correct from the Sikh perspective. In this view there is absolutely no room for dividing people into friends and enemies, no room for a charge of malintent either.”

SikhRI is also putting in place a review board to evaluate the draft curriculums and feedback. We look forward to receiving constructive suggestions for improvements to the curriculums. We urge all readers to read the attached lessons and FAQs to better understand our approach to making effective material available for teachers.

Harpreet Kaur, a teacher and administrator at Khalsa School of Guru Nanak Foundation of America in Silver Springs, Maryland reflects on her experience of using the Sojhi curriculum. “It is a complete package; a treasure. It has resolved many of the pressing and urgent issues that traditional Gurmat education was facing. It came as an answer for the students who were bored with the outdated techniques of learning who didn’t feel very involved in the classrooms. It came as an answer for parents who wanted the child to be brought up in Sikhi environment leading a more Guru-oriented life. We are filled with gratitude and wish all the best for the Sikh Research institute for having come up with such a complete and comprehensive package.”

Contact Person: Jasmine Kaur
210.757.4555 | info@SikhRI.org

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