Tag: Hindi Australia

Sanya Verma gets VCE Premier’s Award for Hindi 2020

Sanya Verma (Right). Photo-Supplied.

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 9 September 2021: Sanya Verma, last month was awarded the VCE Premier’s Award for Hindi 2020, for the year 12 level. Sanya passed out her VCE from the St Margaret’s School, Berwick, and studied Hindi at the Victorian School of Languages (VCL) Centre in Dandenong. She obtained the highest VCE score for Hindi in Victoria in 2020.

Sanya started her Hindi from class 7, her primary motive being to read, write and improve oral skills in the language. Sanya’s Hindi teacher in 2020 was Bhavya Shah, who also teaches Hindi at the VSL Distance Education (although she returned to India recently for family reasons).

She believes being able to develop a skill that you can carry life-long and being able to communicate with others is such a unique skill that we all need to have.

Sanya Verma. Photo-Supplied

Sanya recommends senior students studying VCE Hindi should aim to undertake unique activities regularly to polish their language skills. She says, “If you want to succeed in VCE you need to be able to stand out in your ideas and the way you think.”

In the future, Verma hopes to work in the field of Data Science and IT and firmly believes her language skills will help take her career to a world platform.

“Families interested in their children studying Hindi with the Victorian School of Languages, from Foundation level to VCE, should go to https://www.vsl.vic.edu.au/. Hindi is taught at VSL centers in Berwick, Dandenong, Blackburn, Caroline Springs, Epping, Glen Waverley, Melton, Sunshine, Werribee, Shepparton, Wodonga, and Mildura. Hindi is also offered through Distance Education (VCE only)
Enrolments for 2022 open in mid-November 2021, informs Heather Rae, Area Manager, VSL SouthEast (Dandenong, Berwick, and Hampton Park).

Heather Rae can be contacted at – heatherr@vsl.vic.edu.au

La Trobe Hindi retention welcomed but low enrolments remain a challenge


By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 17 February 2021: The decision of La Trobe University to retain Hindi teaching has been welcomed by the community. The decision to stop Hindi teaching at the university because of revenue shortfalls and low enrolments is now reversed for good. But with few student numbers, the challenge remains. In a letter to the Indian Consul General, Mr. Raj Kumar, La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor and President Prof John Dewar, while informing the decision, talks about the challenges ahead.

” While we have made the decision to continue teaching Hindi, this does not in itself resolve the challenges that led us to consider closing the program. We must still address the low enrolments in Hindi language subjects in order for the program to become sustainable and thrive in the future. We do hope that the considerable passion and enthusiasm for Hindi language teaching that was evident in the feedback we received will help to generate an immediate increase in enrolments in these programs.

La Trobe University looks forward to working together with you and other stakeholders to increase enrolments in our Hindi language program and generate the community support that is needed for us to provide Hindi language teaching at La Trobe in a sustainable way in the years ahead, the La Trobe VC says.

In his letter to the community, Mr. Raj Kumar says, ” As you may notice in the attached letter, and as mentioned by Vice-Chancellor that continuation of this program itself does not resolve the main challenge which is the low number of enrolments. I am also of the belief, that in spite of this program continuing, this reduced number of enrolments will always be a threat, and if not addressed timely, it won’t be a surprise that we might be in the same situation of this course getting canceled.

Therefore, I would like to request all of you to find a permanent solution to this problem and find ways to build up enrolments, to avoid this situation in the future.”

Talking to South Asia Times (SAT), Dr.Vikrant Kishore, Academic & Filmmaker from the Hindi Action Group says, ” We must make sure that the target for these Hindi programs/courses is not just Indians/South Asians, but Australians at large. Also, a greater connection with the schools must be charted to create an understanding and importance of Hindi as a language, and as an option that students can elect at the university level.

In addition, internship opportunities, study tours/field trips to India might help to engage more students (these might already be there in the University). This approach can certainly help in increasing the visibility of the course and thereby creating demand. The Hindi Action Group will certainly do its best to continue its effort to promote, popularise, and discuss Hindi and other Indian languages in Australia.”

Ian Woolford
Ian Woolford

Renowned Hindi scholar Ian Woolford has been teaching Hindi at La Trobe University for some years. He is passionate about continuing Hindi at the La Trobe University and understands the importance of the enrolment challenge.

He says, “As is the case with many lesser-taught languages in Australia, the urgent matter of enrolment still remains. During the consultation process, the Department of Languages and Linguistics worked with and sought input from many other La Trobe departments and programs—including Public Health, Speech Pathology, Sociology, International Relations, and Law.

Our goal was to better understand how we can tailor the Hindi subjects to better meet the needs of students in those programs. During these discussions, faculty from across La Trobe agreed that Hindi can be of value to students across the university. Consequently, we are working to develop new Hindi materials for students studying in various fields, and we are preparing a marketing campaign that highlights the benefits of Hindi language study.”

After a three-month consultation process, during which the University administration considered internal input from staff and students, and also external input from academics, diplomats, MPs, and community members, the decision was been made to retain La Trobe’s Hindi program. The issue of having a sizable number of students to consolidate the Hindi program, no doubt, remains a challenge.

In the mid-1990s, six Australian universities taught Hindi. With the La Trobe university deciding to retain Hindi, it will be the second one along with the ANU, Canberra to teach Hindi.

Meanwhile, at the school level, there are about 500 plus students in 14 VSL (Victorian School of Languages) locations where Hindi is taught. Last year (2020) 40 students passed Hindi ‘Foundation – Year 12 (VCE) from these centers. One who passes this can take admission in 3rd year La Trobe Hindi course for one year and obtain a degree. Unfortunately, none of the 40 students took admission in La Trobe. So, much needs to be done in this direction.

La Trobe University announces decision to retain Hindi in curriculum

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, February 2021: The La Trobe University has decided to retain its Hindi teaching. The official decision in this regard was announced on Monday (8 February 2021), by an email from Prof Nick Bisley, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, La Trobe University. The Prof said, ” After considerable discussion with stakeholders including staff, students, community groups, and governments we have decided to retain the current Hindi program.”

“Notwithstanding the significant financial challenges we face, it is clear to us that it remains firmly in the University and country’s interest to retain the Hindi program”, he said.

Talking to South Asia Times (SAT), Ian Woolford, who teaches Hindi at the La Trobe University said, ” It’s extremely wonderful news that the university will continue to support the Hindi program because the recognition of Hindi language is vital to Australia’s national interest. So, Hindi remains part of the curriculum.”

” I am grateful to the Hindi Action Group, the community, those in academics, staff, and all others around Australia who waged the three-month-long effort to retain Hindi at the La Trobe University,” he said.

Vikrant Kishore of the Hindi Action Group says, ” It is heartening to know that Hindi program at La Trobe University will be retained. I would like to thank the La Trobe University VC and Executive members for taking into consideration the massive support of the Australian-Indian community, who were very concerned regarding the proposed removal of the Hindi program, that led to a hugely successful signature campaign, and letters of support from many politicians, community groups, and academics across the world. I am sure La Trobe University will benefit immensely by retaining the Hindi program, and we as a community will take a keen interest to support the program and spread the word around. I was fortunate to work along with the HINDI ACTION GROUP, where eminent Australian Indian academics, journalists, artists, and business representatives – such as – Neeraj Nanda, Deepak Joshi, Saksham Katyal, Priya Chacko, Manoj Kumar, Arun Sharma, Mohamed Haroon, Rampal Muthalya, and Intaj Khan helped to liaise with the community members to raise support for the Hindi program.”

” Our support for the Hindi program at La Trobe University was solely on the following reasons: 1. Supporting the largest spoken language of India, 2. to make stakeholders understand the importance of soft-cultural power and diplomacy through language (in this case Hindi, but our passion, is and will remain the same for any language group, or sub-group from India, and we must add that we also support and respect all other languages, thus we made sure that we also include saving Greek and Indonesian languages at La Trobe in our communications), 3. Due importance to language courses at University level must be given, 4. The community must work together to take forward the Australia-India relations beyond Bollywood and Cricket, and finally, 5. Indian being a key partner of Australia, and Indian diaspora forming the third largest migrant group, it is high time that we acknowledge that partnership, and move beyond tokenism.” says Vikrant Kishore.

The issue had become a hot potato in the community as the ‘Hindi Action Group’ spearheaded a campaign against the proposed plan of the La Trobe University to scrap Hindi teaching, citing the pandemic fall in revenue and dwindling student numbers.

The ‘Hindi Action Group’ managed to do a massive signature campaign and talked to the Federal Education Minister on the issue. The university was impressed to retain the Hindi teaching as part of Australia’s expanding relations with India. Big support also came from academic circles on the issue.

Only two universities (ANU and La Trobe) teach Hindi in Australia.

The battle for Hindi at La Trobe: Ball in the University’s court


By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 27 November 2020: The decision of the La Trobe University to scrap its Hindi teaching has generated unprecedented opposition from all sections of society. Political parties, community groups, and members have called upon the University to rescind its decision. The ‘Hindi Action Group’ which spearheaded the opposition roped in political leaders and the community highlighting the issue.

A signature campaign that attracted 2,463 people has been submitted to the Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University. Reports indicate the matter has been taken up by a Consultative Committee of the University. Earlier, Ian Woodford who teaches Hindi there submitted a proposal to help the university in this matter plagued by post COVID revenue shortfall and falling student numbers.

Saksham Katyal, volunteer ‘Hindi Action Group’ says, “A language is a bridge between two and supporting Hindi will become a bridge of prosperity for both India and Australia.”

“The response from all quarters has been positive and now the ball is in the court of the La Trobe University to take a positive decision, ” says Vikrant Kishore, filmmaker & academic, actively working on the issue.

Some suggestions made to the University are:

1.Alternatives that allow the university to maintain a Hindi program for less cost, while also attracting more students.
2.The university must take into account the overwhelming support that the Hindi program has received from the public, politicians, and community groups.
3.Since multiple federal ministers have indicated a willingness to explore funding options, thus, it would be premature to close the Hindi Program before the Vice Chancellor’s office has a chance to engage directly with these ministers.
4.The Review Committee at La Trobe must request the Vice Chancellor’s office to do engage with politicians, and the community to understand their sentiment/response, and how best they can utilize the support offered.
5.We hope that some arrangement can be made for 3 years of support for the Hindi Language Programme at La Trobe, to help us get through the crisis.
6.We would support any University campaign to raise awareness of the Hindi program among students from India.
7.If immediate commitment cannot be obtained from the government, in that case, one year delay on any decision, so that we continue to explore various possibilities.
8.In case if it is decided that the Hindi major must be eliminated, we would like to urge the University to keep a core number of Hindi subjects operating. These would be electives that operate as “service subjects” to other programs and departments in the university.

The ‘Hindi Action Group’ reveals Federal Labor’s Peter Khalil Member For Wills, Matthew Guy MP, Victoria, Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens, Intaj Khan, former Councillor Wyndham City Council among others have raised the issue or written letters to concerned authorities.

Federal Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs has assured the ‘Hindi Action Group’ during a telephonic conference he will help the community stop the La Trobe University from scrapping the Hindi program. His assurance came after a telephonic discussion with the Group.

Meanwhile, the Indian Consul General Mr. Raj Kumar has assured all support and assistance to help the community retain the Hindi program at the University. Mr. Raj Kumar was talking to a delegation of community members who met him recently at the Indian Consulate briefing him about the latest in the issue and the background behind it.

He is likely to meet the La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor soon and is calling a community meeting to discuss the matter.

The ‘Hindi Action Group’ has been inundated with phone calls and emails of support for raising the issue and taking it to its possible logical conclusion.

Minister Jason Wood assures support to stop La Trobe scrapping Hindi program


By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 23 November 2020: Federal Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs today assured the ‘Hindi Action Group’ during a telephonic conference that he will help the community stop the La Trobe University from scrapping it’s Hindi language program.

The university has decided to scrap the Hindi program saying it is facing a financial crunch along with dwindling student numbers.

The Minister listened to a brief on the subject from Ian Woolford, who teaches Hindi at the university and why it was essential to retain the same. Many others from the Hindi Action Group also expressed their views urging the Minister for Federal action on this issue.

The Minister has assured to talk to the Federal Education Minister and wait for the feedback he needs from the university which Ian will help obtain.

“I also want the Hindi language program to expand beyond its present reach.” the Minister said.