India and Africa together can empower their youth through quality education and skill development, said Muraleedharan

Highlighting India’s educational ties with Africa, Minister of State for External Affairs Minister V Muraleedharan on Thursday said several current or former Presidents, Prime Ministers and Vice Presidents in Africa have studied in educational or training institutions in India.

“Under our capacity building initiatives, thousands of public officials, teachers, entrepreneurs, doctors have been trained or obtained their degrees in India. I am happy to state that more than 2,000 Indian faculty members are contributing to teaching and to academic research in Ethiopian universities,” MoS Muraleedharan said while delivering keynote address at the India-Africa Higher Education and Skill Development summit in Juba in South Sudan.

He said India has also contributed to set up defence academies and colleges in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania; deployment of training teams in several African countries including Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Lesotho, Zambia, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania among others.

Every year, he said, a number of students come to India for their education in Indian universities and colleges. In the last three years, more than 23,000 students enrolled in Indian institutions in various short term, undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD courses. Students from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mauritius and Zambia were the largest beneficiaries of Indian academics.

To boost the number of inbound international students, India has launched the ‘Study in India’, programme, the MoS said.

“The programme offers more than 2600 courses across various institutions in India to foreign students. The program brings together various scholarship and self-financing programmes to attract students from our partner countries, including Africa, to come and experience the very best of academic learning from the top institutions in India,” he added.

In March 2019, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of India initiated a collaboration with the World Bank to strengthen selected African Centers of Excellence (ACEs) established by World Bank in various part of Africa (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda).

As many as 10 Indian institutions including 8 premiere IITs and 2 R & D institutions of DST are participating in this programme, he said.

So far about 54 scientists from Africa have visited India under this programme from various ACEs which include 13 faculty, 11 masters and 30 Ph.D students. India also offered C.V. Raman Fellowship for 1000 African Researchers under the India-Africa Forum Summit to promote human capacity building through scientific and technological cooperation between Africa and India.

He said India is helping African countries to bridge the digital divide.

“The Pan Africa e-Network, launched in Africa at the continental level is aimed at harnessing socio-economic benefits of ICT for tele-education and tele-medicine. After successful implementation of first phase of programme, India launched the second phase of the tele-education and tele-medicine project titled e-Vidhya Bharati and e-Arogya Bharati Network Project (eVBAB),” the MoS added.

The project aims to provide at least 15000 free education and scholarships over a period of 5 years to African learners for Certificate, Diploma, Undergraduate and Postgraduate programmes in various disciplines. 6 Indian universities have joined as partner universities and are providing tele-education under the project.

“I am glad that 18 African countries have signed MoUs to join eVBAB programme,” he said.

For skill upgradation of African youth, the MoS said, India has established 8 vocational training centres, 7 IT centres, a Centre for Geo-informatics Applications in Rural Development (CGARD, Madagascar), upgraded a technology center and several other capacity building Institutions in Africa under grant assistance.

India has also been at the forefront to provide capacity building and training to African candidates under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.

“Our approach to Africa is to develop human capital and institutions; that equips and empowers growth of the Africa continent. 50,000 educational/training slots offered to African students, scholars under India-Africa Forum Summit-III are a part of that commitment. Even during the COVID pandemic, India provided training and education through e-ITEC courses for capacity building of African students and public officials,” the MoS added.