Teachers speak English in Kendriya Vidyalaya
It's about simple things, about the rooms in a typical house. Kavitha Janarthan wants to practice the names of the rooms and asks her seventh grade a lot of questions. The German teacher wears a bright yellow sari, her long hair is tied in a bushy braid. She has painted a red bindi point between her eyebrows. A picture of India as it is painted in travel brochures. But reality.
Janarthan holds up a photo from a furniture catalog and says: "the kitchen". 25 children in red and blue checked school uniforms look at the picture of a sparkling fitted kitchen and repeat: "the kitchen". Then "the living room", "the bathroom", "the study". The pictures look more luxurious than the classroom, the fans in the ceiling are still. Blackout, like almost every day in this Indian school. Children have been learning German here for two years, two times for 35 minutes a week.
What looks like everyday class, however, is a minor revolution. It is part of an ambitious project: German is to be taught at 1,000 Indian schools by 2017.
German won the race
The school in Avadi, 30 kilometers outside the southern Indian metropolis of Chennai, belongs to the state school association called Kendriya Vidyalaya, or KV for short. These schools are for the children of government employees who are regularly transferred within India. The school in Avadi is part of an air force base; only children of the army are allowed to attend. There are 1000 KV schools all over India - some of them are also open to other children.
In addition to the official languages Hindi and English, Sanskrit has so far been the only language in the curriculum. Until two years ago. Then the ministry decided to introduce foreign languages. However, it was not French or Chinese that made the race - but German. About 300 KV schools already teach German as an elective in the sixth to eighth grades. By the end of 2017 it should all be one thousand. And one million children should have a basic knowledge of German.
This coup landed the Goethe-Institut and the Foreign Office. Another initiative had already done preparatory work, trained teachers, and equipped classrooms. This gave rise to the idea of introducing German at all KV schools and promoting it financially. The offensive is part of a broad strategy by the Germans to deepen relations with India and to recruit well-qualified Indians.
"India is one of the key future markets for German companies," says Michael Steiner, German ambassador in New Delhi. "There is already a great need for German-speaking Indian specialists." So far these have preferred to go to the USA or England. That should change: Anyone who learns a little German as a child will not be unfamiliar with the language when it comes to a place at university or a job in Germany later, one hopes.
With a major educational offensive, the Goethe-Institut aims to strengthen German around the world, for example in Russia. There is already a German boom in EU crisis countries, and young people are hoping for prospects.
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