Merkel raises issue of Indian schools' shift from German to Sanskrit

German chancellor Angela Merkel is reported to have raised the issue of India's move to end the option of choosing German as an alternative to Sanskrit as a third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas at her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi who in turn has assured her of looking at it within the confines of the Indian system.

The issue cropped up as the media gave good coverage to the issue stating that the mid-course change will affect a number of students as several of them have opted for German.

The decision to drop German language will affect over 70,000 students across 500 Kendriya Vidyalayas from classes VI to VIII who will have to switch to Sanskrit now.

HRD minister Smriti Irani, however, defended the move to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas

Merkel while raising the issue during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, also invited Modi to visit Germany.

"Merkel did raise the issue of teaching German language in Indian schools. She raised in a manner requesting the Prime Minister to have a look in it and see what would be the best way forward.

"Prime Minister assured her that he himself is the votary of young Indian children learning other languages. He said how it is best done within the confines of Indian system, we will work it out," external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

German ambassador to India Michael Steiner has already raised the issue with the Indian government, hoping a "pragmatic" solution.

The 2011 memorandum of understanding that made German a third language was signed between the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Goethe Institute-Max Mueller Bhawan.

Union HRD minister Smriti Irani has defended the move, saying the existing arrangement was in violation of the three-language formula. She, however, said German would continue to be taught as an "additional subject of hobby class".

In the three-language formula, schools teach Hindi, English and a modern Indian language.

Sanskrit teachers had moved the Delhi high court alleging that the central schools had introduced German as a third language in place of Sanskrit against the education policy.