CBSE to target private schools; circular to reiterate three-language formula

The CBSE, as per government sources, will issue a circular this week reiterating the three-language formula, which states that secondary stage students should also be taught a modern Indian language apart from English and Hindi. The three-language formula, enshrined in the national education policy, has been at the centre of a controversy stemmed from the HRD ministry's decision to not renew a memorandum of understanding with the Max Mueller Bhawan to teach German as the third language to Kendriya Vidyalaya students from classes VI to VIII. It turned into a diplomatic issue when German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Brisbane recently.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani has justified the move on the ground that the agreement was a contravention of the provisions of the three-language formula. Her ministry has so far refused to soften its stand even though German Ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, has told ET that the Indian government will find a "practical" solution to the issue.

A CBSE official said the board had about five years ago issued an advisory to schools to stick to the three-language formula. "But the truth is that it is not being implemented effectively across the country. With the KV (Kendriya Vidyalaya) issue bringing this problem to the fore again, the board will now reiterate the formula to all affiliated institutions, expecting them to correct the inconsistencies with the national educational policy," said the person, who requested not to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

It's not clear whether the board will ask private schools to discontinue the practice of teaching a foreign language as the third language immediately or whether, unlike KV schools, they will be given time to phase it out. Most private schools that ET spoke to did not want to comment on the issue unless the circular is issued formally.

"Someone has made a mistake and it's not the schools," said the principal of a private school here. "Somewhere over a period of time the understanding of the three-language formula has got diluted, but you can't have a knee-jerk reaction to that. You can't correct a wrong overnight unless it's a life-and-death situation and schools should also be given time to implement a change gradually."
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