Gurjit Gill works with CEDF to support multilingual identity of Birmingham’s young people

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Gurjit Gill works with CEDF to support multilingual identity of Birmingham’s young people

Gurjit Singh Gill is a hard-working, kind, happy and loyal individual, considered an inspiration to the young people his work has influenced and to many who have the honour of working alongside him.

Gurjit was born into a loving family in Nairobi, Kenya in the 1960’s. He travelled to India with his family when he was just a little boy. He spent most of his young educational life in Panjab (a state in North West India) and was a keen young sportsman; playing football and hockey at local and district level. He studied hard, ultimately receiving his degree in Mechanical and Production Engineering. Gurjit arrived in England in the late 1980’s. He worked for local colleges, delivering GCSE & A-Level classes in the Panjabi language and eventually landed a job at Land Rover in Solihull. His hard work saw him progress up the career ladder from Line Manager to Process Manager to Senior Quality Control Supervisor.

On a personal level, husband and father to two daughters, he was keen for his children to appreciate and treasure their Indian & Panjabi heritage, culture and language. Although for immigrants at the time it was important to integrate into the society of their new home, Gurjit soon realised there was a strong demand to preserve the culture and identity of Panjabi people in and around Birmingham. He decided to organise language classes to be delivered in his local area, these were very popular and were soon overflowing. Gurjit’s small community school taught the Panjabi language from beginner through to A-Level and he also arranged cultural evenings, community events and family days out. His rapport with his pupils, staff, parents and community members was and still is fantastic!

For the last 12 years, Gurjit has also been training and assessing in textiles companies throughout the Midlands on a part-time basis. As well as providing the NVQ training, he has assisted textiles companies to meet health & safety requirements and with their customer audits. This role has made use of his fluency in Panjabi, Hindi and Urdu.

Since 2004, Gurjit has also been working in the role of Project Manager with Birmingham-based charity CEDF (Community, Education & Development Foundation Ltd). He has been instrumental in the establishment of CEDF Panjabi School which delivers Panjabi classes to 190 children and young people. He is an active member of the local and wider community and strongly advocates the teaching of languages to young people. In particular, he believes all ethnic minority children should have the opportunity to appreciate and learn about their ethnic origin and language. Gurjit’s work ethic and dedication to Panjabi teaching are highly commendable; he has worked to bring the language to the attention of statutory agencies, community sector organisations and educational institutions, and further afield with Gurjit’s links extending internationally.

Under the guidance of his mentor Dr J.S.Nagra, (author, retired Maths teacher and Panjabi examiner), Gurjit has initiated and led the development of the Panjabi curriculum from beginner level for use in supplementary and mainstream schools. In 2010, Gurjit was nominated in the world’s first Sikh Awards for his services to education – the award category considered ‘individuals who have shown their contribution to society through means of “Seva” (Selfless Voluntary Service)’. Although he didn’t win on this occasion, he found it very humbling to have been nominated.

In January 2011, the IIFS (Indian International Friendship Society) invited Gurjit to receive an award at a presentation held in New Delhi. The event titled “Global Friendship Day” is held annually to celebrate the achievements of people of Indian origin. This prestigious event was attended by the elite of Indian politics and business as well as high profile Indian celebrities, artists and musicians. Gurjit was presented with the Bharat Gaurav Award for his accomplishments particularly his charitable and community work and of course, his contribution to education.

Furthermore, Gurjit’s dedication to community work and efforts in educating young people were recognised by the British Government when he was invited to attend the Vaisakhi celebrations at 10 Downing Street in April 2011. The event was attended by high profile members of the Asian community including television and sports personalities, religious leaders and Sikhs in the British Army, British Navy and the RAF.

Over the last 2 years, Gurjit has worked closely with academics from Birmingham University’s Mosaic Centre for Research on Multilingualism, on a cutting edge study that will inform and shape policy in relation to education, migration, multiculturalism and diversity. This two-year project has enabled researchers to develop new understanding of how language and identities interconnect for multilingual young people in the 21st Century. You can visit www.cedf.org.uk for further information on the study.

Gurjit is keen for all communities to live and work together harmoniously regardless of their ethnic origin or the language they speak. He has been instrumental in establishing the Birmingham Supplementary Schools’ Consortium (BSSC) which was founded in November 2010 following complete withdrawal of local authority funding to supplementary schools. Subsequent negotiations led by Gurjit with local Councillors resulted in funding being granted for 2011-2012. The BSSC which consists of Bangladeshi, Greek, Gujarati, Iranian, Panjabi, Polish and Tamil schools will continue its work to sustain the supplementary schools network in Birmingham, raise funds from charitable trusts and funding bodies, provide staff training, promote and improve education & citizenship in supplementary schools.

  1. Gurjit has worked tirelessly for many years to develop Panjabi language teaching and support young people. He is an excellent role model to all.

    Surekha Sagoo

  2. Sally-Anne Brown says:

    Truly inspirational

  3. Fantastic article, and glad to see Gurjits’ tireless work recognised. We can all learn a lot from his enthusiasm, passion and commitment to improving the richness of cultural language and experiences of local communities.

  4. Narinder says:

    Inspirational story of what can be achieved when you follow your passion. Congratulations Gurjit Gill. Very inspiring.

  5. Gill Kain says:

    Great article and how lovely to read more about Gurjit and all he does. Always a pleasure to deal with, I can fully understand why he has achieved so much in and around the community

    Best Wishes

    Gill Kain
    Exam Officer
    Hamstead Hall Community Learning Centre

  6. Navneet Kaur says:

    Well done Gurjit its a priviledge working with you and CEDF. We are all so proud of you! Keep up the great work!

  7. An excellent article about Gurjit Gill. I have known Gurjit Gill for the last about 25 yeas. During this long period of lime, I have found Gurjit to be a very honest, caring, hard working and sociable person. He is well known for his community work and his contributions towards the teaching and maintenance of community languages is commendable. He has organised many functions aimed to facilitate better relations between different communities in Birmingham. He deserves our appreciation for his hard work and dedication.

  8. Harpreet Jessel says:

    Mr Gurjit Gill is very hard working person. Mr Gill helped our organisation a lot & gave us the lovely ideas. He always eager to give us bright ideas how to improve our organisation. Thank you Mr Gill for all your help.

  9. Pankaj Shori says:

    Nice job

  10. satnam chana says:

    Gurjit is very supportive in all aspects. He is always helpful whatsoever may be the source till the completion and achievement. Wish him all the best.

  11. Peter Tennant says:

    Excellent work Gujit, you have made so many people happy.

  12. Satpal Singh Jaswal says:

    We are proud of your achievements. Keep it up, God bless you.

  13. Mahavir Vashisht says:

    Mr Gurjit Gill’s hard work to promote language and multiculturalism is much appreciated by all of us and our community is so proud of him. Multiculturalism and multilingualism is an absolute need for this shrunken globe. Keep up the good work, our well wishes are always with you.

  14. what a wonderful man. giving time. helping.

    great.

  15. Chris Ellis says:

    Having known Gurjit as a friend and colleague for many years it’s good to see him getting the recognition he so truly deserves.

  16. Gurjit Soomal says:

    Well done Gurjit, fantastic article. You truly are an inspiration to us all .

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