The Goethe Institute, which is financed by the German Foreign Ministry, had been funding a project to teach German in 1,000 Indian state-funded Kendriya Vidyalaya (KVS) schools. The contract was worth around €700,000 per year.
And 78,000 children in more than 500 schools – over half of the KVS system - were already learning German. The aim was to reach 115,000 pupils in 1,000 schools.
Some of the money had also been used to train more than 700 German teachers.
But India's Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD) decided not to continue the programme, which was supposed to be renewed after German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to India from September 6th to 8th.
India Today reported that HRD found that the agreement with the Goethe Institute ran counter to its “Three Language Formula”, which specifies that children should learn English, Hindi and a modern Indian language.
The decision by HRD follows a challenge against the Goethe Institute programme in the Delhi High Court last year by Sanskrit teachers' association Sanskrit Shikshan Sangh, who argued that it was unconstitutional.
During those hearings, KVS defended the programme vigorously, saying that the German lessons would support pupils' career prospects as they entered a globalized labour market.
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