HomeSikh AmericansVirginia becomes the 17th state to teach Sikhism in schools
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Virginia becomes the 17th state to teach Sikhism in schools

Students in Virginia can learn about Sikhism now thanks to the state’s motion to implement Sikhi faith and culture in their social studies curriculum. Virginia joins 16 other states across the country that are also expanding their curriculums to include information about Sikhism, according to American Bazaar

The Virginia Board of Education voted on April 20.

“These new standards will ensure that my child will feel seen and heard in their learning environment,” said Jasmeet Singh of the Sikh Coalition, in a statement. “This is an important first step in ensuring all children from our community feel safe as teachers and students alike learn about Sikhi.”

This two-year-long group effort with the VA Sikh community began in March 2021. A draft of Sikh history was introduced by the Board in July 2022 when the coalition pushed further for more comprehensive standards and up-to-date information. 

Harman Singh of the Sikh Coalition expressed the importance of Sikhi representation in classrooms stating, “Inclusive and accurate standards are an important first step to combat bigotry and to reduce bullying, and they benefit all students by increasing cultural competency.” 

The Sikh Coalition stated that the Sikh social studies curriculum will come with serious well-documented flaws, and there are many communities that are not represented as they should be. However, the group says it will work with the Board and other underrepresented groups to improve the curriculum. Surveys conducted by the advocacy group used data to support how teaching Sikhism can create a safer environment for Sikh students. 

“Through our campaigns to bring Sikhi into state social studies standards, train educators to teach about Sikhi in the classroom, and empower Sikh parents to engage with their children’s teachers, we have come to understand the impact that data makes in driving policy changes at education institutions,” Rucha Kaur, community development director at Sikh coalition, told Times of India.  

Adoption of the new standards will take effect after the Board develops curriculum frameworks in May 2023 with implementation starting in August 2025.

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