“Kerala and Germany have strong relations that go back a long way. It was Hermann Gundert, a German missionary based in Kerala, who wrote the Malayalam-English dictionary and translated the Bible into Malayalam. Also, nurses were migrating to Kerala in the 1960s and 70s. There were already bridges laid out. So, when people asked why there was no German language centre in Kerala, I too asked myself the same question,” says Syed Ibrahim, Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany for Kerala and the head of Goethe Zentrum Trivandrum. One of the movers behind bringing Goethe Zentrum to Thiruvananthapuram in 2008, Syed is on his way to Kochi for the opening of its new larger and state-of-the-art facility in Kochi, when we catch him over the telephone.
“Our previous facility in Kochi, which we opened in 2015, was a small one with just two and a half classroom and no proper library. Our new facility within the premises of the Chavara Cultural Centre will have five full-fledged classrooms and a digital library for its students,” says Syed, adding that there has been a surge in the number of people not just learning the German language at the institute, but for writing the German language examination too in the last five years.
The purpose behind shifting to this new facility is to meet the demands of the people. “Kochi will be one of the main hubs for German examinations in India because in the last two to three years the number of students and also that of those who are aspiring to be employed in Germany have been increasing. Also, private institutes offering the German language have popped up across the State. Students from these institutes approach us to write the examination.”
In March, Germany introduced a new law to permit skilled professionals from non-EU countries to migrate to Germany. “Earlier, this was not possible for Indians. But now skilled professionals with a basic knowledge of German can move to German.”
According to Syed, most of their applicants learn the language as they want to pursue their higher education in Germany. “Study in Germany is free, so there are quite a few aspiring doctors and engineers in our classes. We have recently started seeing a trend amongst those who have completed their class 12 to go to Germany to do their Bachelor’s Degree. For Bachelor's studies, a student needs an advanced level of knowledge in German as Bachelors studies in Germany are conducted in German. Only Masters level courses are being offered in the English language,” says Syed, adding that the institute has students coming in from not just Kochi but from Kottayam, Thrissur and Palakkad as well.
The new German Centre in Kochi will be inaugurated by the German Ambassador HE Walter J Linder on December 12, 2 pm.