In a move dubbed as "retrograde" by sections of parents and educationist, the Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) board has decided to discontinue teaching German as a third language option in the middle of the academic year. The decision is likely to affect thousands of students of Classes 6 to 8 in 500-odd KVs across the country which teach German. Students are already in their second term and have completed at least one summative and one formative assessment. The academic year ends in early March. The decision was taken at the latest board meeting of the KVs held on October 27, which was chaired by Union minister of human resource development Smriti Irani. It is apparently aimed at restoring the primacy of the three-language formula under which English and two modern Indian languages are taught. A circular dated November 10, which includes minutes of the board meeting, has been sent to all the KVs. It said, "Teaching of the German language as an option to Sanskrit will be discontinued forthwith. Students studying German as an option to Sanskrit in Class 6 to 8 shall be given an option to study Sanskrit or any other modern Indian language of his or her choice." The resolution added that in view of the mid-session policy change, appropriate and adequate counseling to students and parents affected by the move would be organized by the school. It also said that students interested in learning German could study it as an additional subject or hobby but not as a third language. N R Murali, deputy commissioner of the KV Sangathan regional office in Kolkata, said, "The idea is that a foreign language replacing a modern Indian language is in violation of the national policy on education or the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) or the three language formula. The decision has been communicated to the schools." "By this logic, can't the same rule be extended in future to deny students the option of studying French or Mandarin as a third language as well," asked a senior educationist. Some of the KVs in the metros decided to offer foreign languages six years ago when the MHRD brought in a policy to allow five foreign languages to be introduced, KV officials said. "This was mostly driven by the willingness of students to learn a foreign language and the availability of teachers to instruct them," said a KV principal, who declined to be named. Those KVs that had been offering German as a third language had been doing it under a MoU signed with the Goethe Institute, which provided training to teachers and library material and organized cultural programs. In the recent meeting, the KV board also banned its schools from entering into any such agreement with a foreign organization in future without the approval of the MHRD. In all, there are more than 1,000 KV schools across the country. The board has also said, "KV Sangathan should undertake a detailed inquiry to identify the circumstances under which the MoU was concluded with Goethe Institute in September 2011 without the prior concurrence of MHRD/GOI." It also wanted the Sangathan to indicate the reasons leading to the signing of an MoU that had provisions violative of the national policy on education or the NCF or the three-language formula. Parents and heads of independent schools, however, said that this was a retrograde step. "The world is shrinking. We cannot remain closed and adopt short sighted policies that will have a huge impact on the next generation," said the principal of an independent CBSE school, who declined to be named. "Even if the Centre feels about this so strongly, there is no need to implement it right away in the middle of the academic year. It is the children who will suffer. This change can be done in the next academic year, and the children may be able to catch up on an Indian language during the summer holidays," said G Sindhu, a parent. NDA ally PMK on Thursday urged the Centre to revoke the decision, calling it a "planned imposition" of Sanskrit. PMK chief Ramadoss accused the BJP-led government of "cultural invasion". He recalled the previous decision to use Hindi in social media, celebrate Sanskrit Week in schools and the celebration of Teachers' Day as "Guru Utsav" to substantiate his claim. "The Centre should give up indulging in language and cultural imposition at a time when a lot of development related work is pending," Ramadoss added.