SEOUL — On July 30, the Indian government announced the selection of Korean language as one of the foreign languages taught at secondary school level.
Following the announcement from India, the Korean Culture Ministry on Thursday claimed that the Korean Cultural Center in India and the Korean Embassy in New Dehli played a crucial role in appealing the need to have Korean on the list.
“Since last year, we had asked that Korean language be listed on the foreign language list. We were expecting the Korean language to appear on the draft version (of New Education Policy 2020), which came out last year, but it was not included. We continued to appeal to the Indian government, sending official requests to the Education Ministry and the Foreign Ministry of India,” Director of Korean Cultural Center India Kim Kum-pyoung told The Korea Herald. “Principals at Indian schools that we have been working with also supported us.”
The Korean Cultural Center in New Delhi opened in 2012 and has signed a memorandum of understanding with 105 schools in India for cultural exchange so far.
“We are holding diverse events like essay contests, drawing contests and quiz contests related to Korean and Indian culture with local schools. Last year around 92,000 students participated,” Kim said. “The contests have so far been held among private schools. Now that the Korean language has been listed as one of the foreign languages (taught at schools), we expect more interest from public schools as well.”
The cultural center has also been assisting in conducting pilot Korean classes in Indian schools since 2015. Last year, the center started Korean hobby classes in 10 schools, and in 2020, three schools selected Korean classes as their regular subject.
The Korean Culture Ministry added that it was developing Korean language courses and textbooks to be used in schools in India. Also, along with sending professional Korean language teachers to India, the Korean government noted that the King Sejong Institute, the state-run Korean language institute operating overseas, will launch official courses for training local teachers in 2021.
In June, the Culture Ministry and King Sejong Institute Foundation launched three additional King Sejong Institutes in India to reflect the increasing demand for learning about Korean culture. Currently, there are seven King Sejong Institutes in India.
On top of creating an environment for learning Korean, Korean Cultural Center India is also aiming to have the Korean language selected as one of test subjects in the university entrance exam.
Indian students take exams in 10th grade and 12th grade.
“We are talking with the Indian government so that the current 6th graders can take the Korean test after taking Korean classes for 4 years,” Kim said. “In discussions with the Indian side, we have concluded that it will be good if we (Korea) could also include Hindi in our university exam as well.”
Kim went on to emphasize that in order to further spread Korean culture, it is important for Koreans to also understand Indian culture.
“India’s interest in Korea can be sustained only when there is a mutual exchange of cultures,” Kim added.
A total of 12 countries — India, US, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, France, Turkey, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines– have selected Korean as part of their foreign language education programs.
Meanwhile, the Indian government dropped Chinese from its foreign languages list in New Education Policy 2020, a decision largely viewed as spurred by the rising tensions between the two countries.