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Inaugural Address by Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri V. Muraleedharan at the India-Africa Higher Education and Skill Development Summit (October 21-22, 2021)

October 22, 2021

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Namaskaram !


I am delighted to speak at the second edition of India-Africa Higher Education and Skill Development Summit.

India and Africa share historical, trade and political relations that were further buttressed during the anti-colonial struggle in the 20th century. In last 7 years, unprecedented regular exchanges at all levels have generated a new momentum in our ties. India’s engagement with Africa is guided by our Prime Minister’s top 10 guiding principles enunciated during his address to Ugandan Parliament in 2018. One of the principles is to share India’s experience with the digital revolution to support Africa’s development; improve delivery of public services; extend education & spread digital literacy in Africa.

Education and especially higher education has a significant contribution towards sustainable livelihoods and economic development of the country. An individual through higher education builds his character; enhances intellectual capacity & creativity that are vital for the growth and development of any nation.

Both India and Africa have young populations and youth demand quality higher education and better employment opportunities to fulfil their aspirations and dreams. Today, providing quality higher education with relevant skills aligned with the needs of the market remains one of the most important challenges.

The Sustainable Development Goals that are to be achieved by 2030 also commit to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. To achieve this goal, India is providing higher education to its aspirational youth through more than 55,000 educational institutions. Government of India launched the New National Education Policy in July 2020 that focuses on skills needed by the youth of the 21st century India.

Friends,

In today’s context, higher education by itself is not helpful without acquiring skills required by the market. To promote skill development, Government of India created a separate Ministry to train over 400 million Indians in different industry-related jobs through "Skill India initiative”. This initiative is helping in addressing the disconnect between demand and supply of skilled manpower, and also building vocational and technical training framework, and skill up-gradation among youth.

However India in its spirit of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ (The World is a family) is happy to share its experiences with friendly countries. Capacity building and higher education avenues for our development partners has been integral to India’s foreign policy. India is always ready to share its experiences and knowledge in a spirit of solidarity with friendly countries for their socio-economic development.

India is proud of its long-lasting educational ties with Africa. 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. 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, a number of students come to India for their education in Indian Universities and colleges. In 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 largest beneficiaries of Indian academics.

Friends,

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

India boasts of a large number of educational institutes of excellence such as Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), National Institute of Technology (NIT)s, and Regional Universities. 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). 10 Indian institutions including 8 premiere IITs and 2 R & D institutions of DST are participating in this programme. 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.

Friends,

I am happy to say that India is helping the 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 project aims to provide at least 15000 free education/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.

For skill upgradation of African youth, 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.

Friends,

I have no doubt that India and Africa together can empower their youth through quality education and skill development. Such summits provide a platform to share our expertise, our concern and future ways for further strengthening our ties with Africa in higher education and capacity building. I am thankful to all my Ministerial colleagues from all across Africa who are participating in this summit.

I conclude with the quote of Nelson Mandela that "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. I would like to convey my best wishes to CII for success of second edition of India-Africa Higher Education and Skills Summit.

Thank You.
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