Brisbane, Nov 16:
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday had his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who flagged concerns over the scrapping of German language from the third language slot in state-run Kendriya Vidyalayas.
Merkel, who met Modi in his first engagement of the day, told him “our relations are deepening” and also invited him to visit Germany at an early date.
She raised the issue of German language teaching being dropped and asked the prime minister to look into the issue, said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin at a briefing here.
“The prime minister assured that he himself is a votary of young Indians learning other languages, and the issue has to be worked out,” he said.
The matter came up in the wake of union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani Friday announcing that the Kendriya Vidyalayas have decided to discontinue teaching German as an alternative to Sanskrit as a third language, a decision she said was taken in view of “national interest”.
Irani said German would continue to be offered as a “foreign language”.
Irani also asked the Kendriya Vidyalaya Board, which she heads, not to renew its 2011 Memorandum of Understanding with the German government’s Goethe Institut, which had provided the KVs with 700 German teachers.
She said the MoU was in violation of India’s national education policy and the national education framework.
The decision is expected to affect about over 70,000 students across 500 KVs from Classes 6 to 8 who will be asked to switch from German to Sanskrit.
Sanskrit teachers had earlier moved the Delhi High Court alleging that KVs had introduced German as a third language in place of Sanskrit against the education policy.
The spokesperson said Modi was “aware of the situation there” and added that “there are other mechanisms for learning foreign languages, not as a third language but other language”.
Merkel conveyed to Modi that Germany would be grateful if India can work out a system whereby students can learn foreign languages.
Both discussed the biennial bilateral meeting and Merkel agreed to visit India in the latter half of 2015, while Modi would be visiting Germany, along with other countries, in the first half of the year.
Both also discussed the prime minister’s vision of reform, and how he sees it going ahead.
They also discussed bilateral cooperation and the approach to BRICS and neighbours, the spokesperson added.