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Deutsche Schule Bombay - an Interview with Anna Thiede


Date06 Oct 2021


There are many international schools in India, but what makes them special? Let Anna Thiede tell you a little about the Deutsche Schule Bombay (DSB for short). She was a teacher at the DSB for two years and gives us exciting insights into this time in the following interview.

How did you come to the DSB?

During my Bachelor's degree, I met a teacher quite by chance during one of the internships, who told me in a conversation about India that he had once worked at the German School Abroad (Deutsche Auslandsschule) in New Delhi. That was the first time I had ever heard of the existence of German schools abroad. I had been interested in India since my childhood, so the first thought about an internship or something similar at a German school abroad arose after the conversation. Later, I took the opportunity of a three-month internship with teaching at the University of Mumbai, where I gained such formative experiences that a few years later, after completing my Master's degree, I did a second internship in the German Department of the University of Mumbai. While working at the university, I searched the internet for alternative employment opportunities for German teachers in Mumbai and came across the Deutsche Schule Bombay.

What did you particularly like about the DSB?

As a German school abroad, the DSB not only represents the German language, but also German (school) traditions, for example. And to find these again in the midst of a country as culturally different as India was an interesting experience. Especially because it was only because of the distance to Germany and the new framework conditions that I realised which traditions are typically German. For example, the Easter egg hunt or the school cone on the first day of school. What I also liked about the DSB is that there is an international branch in addition to the German branch, where the students learn German as a foreign language. Because of the interlocking of the departments, the students learn in intercultural groups from which they will benefit throughout their lives. Personally, the exchange and cooperation with colleagues from different countries has been a lot of fun and enriching for me.

How German is the Deutsche Schule Bombay?

The DSB was founded as a German school in the 1960s. Since the establishment of the international department, the international character of the school has also increased. In my eyes, the school is thus following the general trend of globalisation. Compared to the IB (International Baccalaureate), the Abitur is less modern or adapted to current topics. Therefore, I can understand it if parents want their children to take the IB instead of the Abitur. In my personal opinion, however, the learning of the German language at the DSB is neglected and not valued enough.

Do the students have a better chance of studying at German universities if they have been to the DSB?

If the students who learn German as a foreign language or second language take the DSD (Deutsches Sprachdiplom) 1 and 2 at the DSB, then definitely yes, because these language certificates are recognised at the universities in Germany and they can be admitted to the degree programmes in German.

How would you assess the role of "International Schools" in the Indian education system?

Most “International Schools” are private institutions and the school fees are incredibly high. Only the wealthy middle class and the upper class of Indian society can afford them, and only a small part of the total Indian population belongs to them. In the Indian education system, they probably play only a subordinate role for the majority.

For the middle and upper classes in India's big cities, however, international schools play a very important role, as the families often have an international orientation and want to give their children the prospect of an education outside India. For the children of expat families living in India, International Schools offer the opportunity to learn in their mother tongue and to maintain some traditions of their home countries. In the schools, influential families come together, socialise and build a network from which they benefit.

As long as International Schools do not offer scholarships or programmes that can admit socio-economically disadvantaged children, they are places where inequality of opportunity in the education system becomes visible.

Thanks for the interview, Anna! Feel free to check out our general article on international schools in India. If you have any questions or your own experiences with international schools in India, please write to us here!

Interview conducted by: Tanja Holbe

Photo Credit: Anna Thiede 

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