Bangali language and culture is cultivated by the Bangla speaking community everywhere in this world, beyond the geographical boundaries of Bangladesh and West Bengal. Bangla speaking community in Perth is also no exception. The Pathshala Bangla School in Perth was established by the Bangladesh Australia Association of Western Australia (BAAWA) in 2010 to ensure Bangla passes on to the next generations. Mrs Sharmistha Saha of Pathshala Bangla School in Perth speaks to SBS Bangla about the challenges and potential to run such initiative.
Shamishta Saha, an engineer by profession and one of the school teachers of Bangla school, insists the importance of practicing Bangla, "We cannot imagine that our next generation will not know Bangla, and this is the very idea that Bangla School has been established in Perth."
However, there are some challenges run the school, and the major issue is the number of students.
"We have less number of expatriate Bangla speakers here compared to other major cities in Australia, so students are less, although they initially received a lot of response but due to other commitments among their parents, there is a lack of interest," she says.
However, they are trying to make students and parents interested in various ways, such teaching through storytelling, or sports activity.
In addition to teaching the language, their organization BAAWA organizes various cultural events on the National Day, Bangla New Year and other important days to highlight the Bangla culture. The students of Bangla school participate in various cultural events including dance, song and drama etc. In addition, BAAWA hosts Bangla concerts every year in August and receives a lot of response.
To make Bengali language education more formal, they want to develop a curriculum so that students can accept Bengali as a second language in their curriculum. She says, they have already created such a curriculum, but want to improve it.
However, everything depends on the interests of the parents.
She urges the Bangla-speaking community of Perth, "Bangla is the vibrancy of our lives, which is why the establishment of the Bangla School. If the parents of the students bring their children to Bangla School and spare times along with their other commitments, then our efforts will be fruitful."
Please listen the conversation by clicking the audio above