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In December 2011, the British Academy launched a nationwide schools languages award as an initiative aimed at encouraging innovation and creativity for teaching in languages at secondary schools. Both mainstream and supplementary schools were invited to apply for the prize which was open to new and established projects that were deemed to be innovative, sustainable and replicable.

In the first year of the competition, the British Academy received 159 applications from across the UK from which eight regional mainstream schools and seven supplementary schools were conferred the award. Of the seven supplementary schools, The BAPS Swaminarayan Sunday School, based at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, received an award for its ‘Gujarati – Learn it or Lose it’ project.

The aim of the project was to make learning Gujarati more desirable, resulting in a greater number of children being able to read, write, speak, and understand Gujarati. The project has enabled language learning to become modern, interactive, fun and easy, employing various innovative techniques. Developed in-house using familiar card and board games, the online tools enhance learning and help to transfer classroom teaching to a home environment. The project also includes multi-session seminars to cater for children and adults from all levels, designed to encourage the whole family to increase the use of Gujarati at home.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj has often emphasised the role of language in sustaining and transmitting religious teachings, especially through the medium of scriptural reading and listening to discourses. The BAPS Swaminarayan Sunday School is a part of that vision to help current and future generations learn and benefit from Gujarati, both at the temple and at home.

The award ceremony took place as part of British Academy Language Week in November. Before the awards ceremony, groups browsed the exhibitions where each school had set up its own resources and tools. Several volunteers from The BAPS Swaminarayan Sunday School attended the ceremony to receive the award and share their experiences and successes with other schools.

The British Academy Schools Languages Award is the second honour awarded to The BAPS Swaminarayan Sunday School in 2012, and one of several other awards that have been received over the last few years. Some of these awards include:
Gold Award for Supplementary Education, July 2012
Bronze Award for Supplementary Education, December 2011
– National Award for Excellence in Language Learning (Silver Award given to Karishma Kumar of BAPS Children’s Forum, Brent), June 2010
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, June 2009

For further enquiries about Gujarati learning in the UK, please email gujarati@mandir.org.

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