South Asia The German Educational Scene

Group photo
© Bernhard Ludewig

Head teachers of PASCH schools from India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka spent just under a week looking at the German education scene. Their schools are part of the “Schools: Partners for the Future“ (PASCH) initiative, a global network that has been promoting the learning of German as a foreign language since 2008. For some, it was their first visit to Germany – a few inspiring but also surprising impressions.

Tell us first of all how popular German really is in your countries?

Kavita Chhabra, project consultant for PASCH at the Goethe-Institut New Delhi, India © Bernhard Ludewig
“Oh, very. In New Delhi alone there are more than 250 schools where German is taught. We are in competition with French, but German is becoming more and more popular because of the many projects and competitions for teachers and learners of German that we organise. And the 47 PASCH schools in India are very involved, they cooperate closely with the Goethe-Institut.”
Kavita Chhabra, project consultant for PASCH at the Goethe-Institut New Delhi, India

“In Pakistan, German is becoming increasingly popular. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, universities in Germany are free of charge. That makes it attractive for Pakistanis to learn the language. Secondly, the language opens up an opportunity to understand German literature, philosophy, science and technology.”
Syed Ali Syedain, head teacher at the Civilizations Public School in Karachi, Pakistan

“4,100 children attend our school – 450 of them are learning German. I want to increase this number by introducing the subject earlier on. Then we can enrich lessons with more exercises and playful elements. It is also important to win parents over in relation to Germany, the language and the career opportunities here through orientation events at an early stage. After all, they are the ones who decide on their children’s future.”
Ruchie Seth, head teacher at Lotus Valley International School in New Delhi, India

The biggest differences to the education system in my own country are...

Syed Ali Syedain, head teacher at the Civilizations Public School in Karachi, Pakistan © Bernhard Ludewig
“... that equality of opportunity and social mobility are the top educational priority, as underlined by all our dialogue partners here. Although I am the head teacher of a private school, I do not like the division within the school system in Pakistan. The poor go to state schools that are underfinanced and understaffed. The children of rich parents go to private schools that are very dynamic and stimulating.”
Syed Ali Syedain, head teacher at the Civilizations Public School in Karachi, Pakistan

“...that state schools are the norm in Germany. In India, there are a great many private schools and after primary school, there is only one type of school: grammar school. We do not have different kinds of secondary school like the Realschule, vocational schools etc.”
Kavita Chhabra, project consultant for PASCH at the Goethe-Institut New Delhi, India

“... in India, there is greater interest in IT and technical courses of study than here in Germany. Yet we have surprisingly few applicants from India here at the Technical University. That’s why German teachers from India are an important target group for the TU’s international foundation programme, the Studienkolleg. In South America and China, our experience of the local Goethe-Instituts taking over the administration of the Studienkolleg entrance exam for us has been good. We would like to institutionalise this for India now too, so that applicants don’t have to come to Berlin just to take the exam.”
Dr. Katrin Krüger, Deputy Head of Division at the Studienkolleg of the Technische Universität (TU) Berlin, Germany

What are the most lasting impressions and ideas you are taking home with you?

Ruchie Seth, head teacher at Lotus Valley International School in New Delhi, India © Bernhard Ludewig
“I now have a much clearer idea of how the university application process and courses of study are organised here. That enables me to extol the language and the career opportunities it brings with it when I talk to parents. I also want to launch an exchange programme for our school. Some of our German teachers have already spent a month at German schools. Now I am looking for teachers from Germany who will come to us not only to teach the pupils German, but also to show them the values and culture by their example.”
Ruchie Seth, head teacher at Lotus Valley International School in New Delhi, India

“And I noticed once again how important games are in lessons. I learned German as a hobby and carried on because I found it fascinating. That’s exactly what it’s all about: to learn a language, you have to be fascinated by it.”
Kavita Chhabra, project consultant for PASCH at the Goethe-Institut New Delhi, India

“As well as all the state funding that goes into equal educational opportunities, what astonished me most was that the schools do not have any security staff or doormen. The system is based on trust. Pupils could simply leave the building, but they don’t. That kind of trust between teachers and pupils is something I would wish for at our school.”
Syed Ali Syedain, head teacher at the Civilizations Public School in Karachi, Pakistan