Time to bid adieu to foreign languages?

Additional language skill is considered as an important asset and can provide more job opportunities to Indian students

Soon after the cancellation of the MoU between Kendriya Vidyalayas and Goethe Institut (Max Mueller Bhawan) for teaching German in Kendriya Vidyalayas, which led to replacement of teaching of German by Sanskrit in Kendriya Vidyalayas by Union human resources development ministry, concerns have been raised about the future of foreign language teaching in the country.

The decision of the HRD ministry affects the immediate future of about 68,000 students across from Classes 6 to 8 of the Kendriya Vidyalayas who will now have to switch from German to an optional language of their choice. It was felt that the ministry could have waited for a few months for the academic year to introduce the change, however, the seeming haste is being blamed on an attempt at pleasing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

An additional language skill is considered as an important asset and can provide more job opportunities to Indian students when compared to their peers from other countries. However, dispelling all these doubts the HRD ministry has clarified that teaching of all foreign languages will continue as before. “German and all other foreign languages would continue to be taught as an additional subject of hobby class in the Kendriya Vidyalayas,” sources stated. This was also reiterated by Union HRD minister Smriti Irani soon after doubts were raised on the issue.

Coming under severe criticism after the sudden move to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language mid-session, Kendriya Vidyalayas have also now decided to provide certain relaxation to students from Class 6 to 8 for this academic year. Students wanting to study this foreign language can still do so as an “additional” subject and has decided to continue with services of teachers hired for teaching it. An order has also been issued by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan by which the grades obtained by students of Class 6 to 8 in German as third language so far would be considered in compilation of the overall annual assessment of the third language.

“It is hereby clarified that the teaching of German (foreign) language will be continued for those students of Classes 6 to 8 who were studying German language and opt for continuing the study of German language as an additional subject or as a hobby class. Therefore, the services of teachers recruited on contractual basis for teaching of German must be continued as per the existing terms and conditions,” said a circular issued by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. The KVS also said that “to facilitate the children to learn the third language, it has been decided that this third language will be taught for such children with the syllabus of the first term of Class 6, even for those children in Class 7 or 8 who had taken German as the third language, so that the learning starts for them right from the beginning and no stress is caused to them.”

Meanwhile, sources in the HRD ministry stated that presently the government does not have any plans to implement the move to replace German with Sanskrit in private schools and they were free to continue their ongoing courses without any changes. However, Sanskrit Shikshak Sangh, the organisation which petitioned the courts on the issue, is trying hard to lean on the Union HRD ministry to implement this order in private schools as well. “Our next step will be to ensure all schools, including private, follow our education policy and three-language formula, and drop foreign languages as the third language,” said Sanskrit Shikshak Sangh president D.K. Jha. It is understood that the government has so far not taken any decision on the issue as it would like to consult all stakeholders before implementing the decision.

( Source : dc correspondent )
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