[Lgpolicy-list] [lg policy] India: ‘Nixing German mid-year bad for students’

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Nov 21 16:02:42 UTC 2014

‘Nixing German mid-year bad for students’Shreya Roy Chowdhury & Manash
Pratim Gohain,TNN | Nov 21, 2014, 02.46 AM IST



   - Smriti Irani defends Sanskrit replacing German as third language in

NEW DELHI: The order to discontinue German courses in Kendriya Vidyalayas
does not affect private schools but their principals say it runs counter to
the government's efforts to reach out to the world. Language policy experts
say the issue is not really German vs Sanskrit or KVS' pact with Goethe
Institut, but of the states not implementing the three-language policy in
true spirit. While the KVs have decided to retain German as an additional
subject, students and teachers say most students will give it up as they
will not be able to cope with an extra course.

Tania Joshi, principal, Indian School, said, "You just cannot change
mid-session. German should not be knocked off and students should be given
a choice. It will be terrible for KV students, as they have not learned
Sanskrit and it won't be easy to pick up at the end of the session. This
decision has certainly not gone down well with principals. The HRD ministry
should review it and any changes should be rolled out at the start of the

Experts said foreign languages were included in the three-language policy
about 15 years ago to complement India's global outlook and opening up of
the market.

Ashok Pandey, principal of Ahlcon International, Mayur Vihar, said, "The
whole idea of the three-language formula, which some of the states have not
accepted, was that besides English and Hindi, schools in north India would
adopt any of the modern Indian languages and non-Hindi speaking states
would teach their official language besides English and Hindi". Pandey said
a foreign language was included in the third-language list more than a
decade ago and CBSE also adopted it. "In the past four or five years, the
previous HRD ministry gave a push to German, French, Spanish and even
Mandarin because it thought if India is opening up and needs to be a global
player, students must learn foreign languages."

Putting the issue into perspective, Padmashri Anvita Abbi, president,
Linguistic Society of India, said the three-language formula has failed in
India as every state follows its own system. "States have not adopted the
three-language formula verbatim because it doesn't satisfy their needs and
desires," Abbi said, adding, "There should be a four-language formula as
the three-language formula doesn't take care of the mother tongue. Sanskrit
can always be taught as a classical language and doesn't have to compete
with German."

Popularity of foreign languages can be measured from the number of students
opting for them. In KVs, 64,000 students were learning German. In Amity
International, Pushp Vihar, one-third of the students learn Sanskrit and
the rest German or French. "We have seen the difference a foreign language
makes to a student. There are exchange programmes with German and French
institutions where our students get exposure," said principal Ameeta Mohan.

For now, the crisis is limited to the KVs primarily because KVS signed an
MoU with the Goethe Institut. A KVS official, who did not wish to be named,
said, "We signed an MoU to teach German as it is the only foreign language
for which there is a government funded institution. Goethe Institut helps
teachers and students learn German not only in India but across the world".


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