Last week, human resource development minister Smriti Zubin Irani had directed Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) to stop teaching German as the third language, instead of Sanskrit across its schools, as she felt it was in violation of the three-language formula of the government.
The mid-session change has affected 70, 000 students studying in these schools who have now been asked to switch over to Sanskrit or any other modern Indian language with immediate effect.
Irani, in her wisdom also decided that German should henceforth be offered only as a hobby or an additional language.
Irani has decided to hold an inquiry into how KVS entered into an MoU to teach German language in alleged violation of the three-language formula.
Well, she doesn’t have to look far to fix accountability.
Nor has there been any violation, as alleged by the minister. A letter to the minister by lawyer activist Ashok Aggarwal on behalf of the All India Parents Association, states,
“ The Board of Governors of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan approved the introduction of foreign languages as an optional subject in its 89th Meeting held on 3.11.2010 . Introduction of foreign languages such as German, French, Spanish, Chinese etc. cannot be termed as arbitrary decision of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan or against the interest of Sanskrit.”
Further, the letter states, the Sangathan did this in line with the National Curriculum Framework:
“...the guidelines clearly state, in view of the fast increasing international interaction and cooperation in socio-political, educational, cultural and economic fields, a growing need for learning more and more foreign languages like Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, German, Arabic, Persian and Spanish has recently been felt. These languages cannot be accommodated within the Three Language Formula. However, depending on the demand for the study of any of languages and the infrastructural resources available with the schools, these languages may be offered as additional options at the secondary stage.”
The Association has requested Irani to step down from her rigid stance and be accommodative towards students.
Full text of the letter (unedited):
1. Hon’ble Sh. Narender Modi
Prime Minister of India
South Block, Raisina Hill
2. Hon’ble Smt. Smriti Irani
Govt. of India
New Delhi: 110001
3. The Commissioner
Kendriya Vidhalaya Sangathan
18 Institutional Area
Shaheed Jeet Singh Marg
New Delhi – 110016
Subject: - Withdraw decision to discontinue teaching of German language as an option to Sanskrit in class VI to VIII in KVS
Your attention is invited to Kendriya Vidhyalya Sangathan office memorandum dated 11.11.2014 whereby KVS has forthwith discontinued teaching of German language as an option to Sanskrit and the students studying German as an option to Sanskrit in class VI to VIII shall be given an option to study Sanskrit or any other modern Indian language of his/her choice.
It is submitted that the aforesaid mid session decision is not only unfair, illegal, unconstitutional and unjust but also against the best interest of the child. We are really unable to understand any good reason for bringing such abrupt change in the curriculum. We therefore demand immediate withdrawal of aforementioned decision and allow all the students to continue with German language as a third language till they complete their class VI to VIII.
It is submitted that as per recommendation of the Academic Advisory Committee in its 36th Meeting held on 8.10.2010 ( Supplementary Agenda Item ) the Board of Governors of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan being the apex policy making body approved the introduction of foreign languages as an optional subject in its 89th Meeting held on 3.11.2010 (agenda item No.7). Consequent upon the decision of the Board of Governors, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan introduced the foreign languages viz, German, French, Spanish, Chinese etc. from class VI – VIII as an optional subject in addition to Indian languages. Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan has introduced the foreign languages as an optional subject and has not removed the Sanskrit language from its curriculum. It is the students as well as his/her parents to decide which subject has to be opted by the student for the best interest of his/her career perspective. Crores of citizens read and write Sanskrit which clearly indicate the popularity of the Sanskrit language and introduction of foreign languages such as German, French, Spanish, Chinese etc. cannot be termed as arbitrary decision of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and against the interest of Sanskrit. Introduction of foreign language was introduced as an optional subject as per recommendation of Academic Advisory Committee and approval of the Board of Governors in its 89th Meeting held on 3.11.2010. Moreover, the Central Board of Secondary Education has also introduced various foreign languages to be opted by the students for their better career perspective. Almost every Indian University is providing diploma/degree courses to the students for their better career perspective in various foreign languages. Hence, introduction of foreign languages by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan as optional subject cannot be viewed /termed as arbitrary/illegal and against the interest of Sanskrit language as such foreign languages are only optional subjects and students are at liberty either to opt Sanskrit or any one of the foreign language as they are the best judge of their own cause.
Regarding teaching of Foreign Languages in National Curriculum Frame Work the guidelines, laid down in Para 2.8.5 on “Organization of Curriculum of elementary and Secondary Stages”, are as under:
“In view of the fast increasing international interaction and cooperation in socio-political, educational, cultural and economic fields, a growing need for learning more and more foreign languages like Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, German, Arabic, Persian and Spanish has recently been felt.
These languages cannot be accommodated within the Three Language Formula. However, depending on the demand for the study of any number of these and the infrastructural resources available with the schools, these languages may be offered as additional options at the secondary stage”.
KVS has also made provisions for teaching of the foreign languages in Kendriya Vidyalayas as per choice of the students subject to fulfilment of other conditions as circulated by KVS from time to time. In our considered opinion, the withdrawal of German language is a retrograde on the part of KVS.
It is therefore submitted that it would be in the best interest of students to allow them to complete class VI to VIII with German language as third language.