Row over KVs scrapping German: Envoy hopes Government finds ‘pragmatic’ solution

Smriti Irani said she did not want “an element of panic inserted among parents and students”.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: November 15, 2014 4:31:46 am
Ambassador Steiner and wife Eliese in New Delhi Friday. Ambassador Steiner and wife Eliese in New Delhi Friday.

As a debate raged over the Human Resource Development Ministry’s decision to do away with German as a third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas, Germany on Friday said it had raised the issue with the Indian government and hoped “a pragmatic solution” would be found soon.

“So far we have not been officially approached… I am confident the Indian government will find a pragmatic solution to allow German to be taught in KVs… I have talked to the government and, on that basis, I express confidence we will find a solution which takes care of children who have expressed their desire to learn foreign languages,” Ambassador Michael Steiner said, adding that it was ultimately up to the Indian government to take a decision.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani, defending the decision to do away with German as a third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas, said an investigation had been ordered since the existing arrangement was in violation of the three-language formula.

But she said German would continue to be taught as an “additional subject of hobby class”.

The decision is expected to affect over 60,000 students across 500 KVs from classes VI to VIII who will be asked to switch from German.

Ministry officials said counselling and other support will be provided to the students.

The Board of Governors (BoG) of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), headed by Irani, had in its meeting on October 27 decided that “teaching of German language as an option to Sanskrit will be discontinued herewith”.

German has been kept as an additional subject for students.

Thee memorandum of understanding signed between KVS and Goethe Institute-Max Mueller Bhawan in 2011 was due for renewal in September. The Ministry said the MoU was also not referred to it at any stage for approval. It said certain provisions in the MoU violate the National Policy on Education, the National Curriculum Framework and the Three Language Formula.

“States have the freedom to teach a language other than English and Hindi…The MoU violated the right of children and state of propagating an Indian language… It is not about promoting Sanskrit but about safeguarding constitutional rights,” Irani said, adding that while German was still available as an additional language in KVs, it could not be allowed as the third language.

“We have asked for an investigation on how an MoU which was in violation of the National Policy on Education was signed,” she said.

The ministry clarified that students were not obliged to pick Sanskrit as the third language and could choose any modern Indian language they are comfortable with.

Irani said she did not want “an element of panic inserted among parents and students”. She sought to blame the previous UPA government for leaving behind a legacy of decisions, including the FYUP (four-year undergraduate programme) issue, which need course correction.

“This is a challenge that is part of the legacy inherited by MHRD.” She said all future MoUs signed with international bodies would be vetted through the Ministry of External Affairs.

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