‘India, South Africa need to deepen education ties’

November 15th, 2008 - 11:00 am ICT by IANS  

Cape Town, Nov 15 (IANS) India and South Africa need to deepen and harmonise ties in the educational field for mutual benefit, according to Indian High Commissioner Rajiv Bhatia.Bhatia was speaking at an Indian Evening at the University of Western Cape (UWC) here Friday, when a bust of Mahatma Gandhi was installed in the campus.

“The two countries are linked by a bilateral agreement, signed in 2006, on cooperation in the field of education,” Bhatia reminded the audience, adding that India had been working closely with the South African government “to manage and deepen our bilateral cooperation in the field of human resource development”.

Successes in this regard included 495 South African nationals participating in India’s training programmes since 2005, fully financed by the Indian government. But the private sector was now also playing a major role in this regard.

“In a welcome development, Indian private sector companies have now come forward to impart training to South African nationals. The Confederation of Indian Industry( CII), and companies such as Tata, Ranbaxy, Sahara and NIIT have begun making significant contribution.

“The recent commercial agreement between NIIT and the province of KwaZulu Natal envisages imparting of training in IT skills to 10,000 South African nationals in the course of the next five years,” Bhatia said.

He added that a visit to India by South African Education Minister Naledi Pandor earlier this year had led to proposals to strengthen cooperation in such diverse fields as structuring of school curricula, rural education, distance education and production of text books.

Under a special scheme of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), South African students had also taken advantage of scholarships provided for study at the Masters and PhD level at Indian institutions.

Bhatia noted that the third IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) Summit in New Delhi last month had mooted mobility of students as well as collaborations involving research institutions and business enterprises between the three countries in the interest of South-South development.

Highlighting how India has always seen education as an effective tool for social change, empowerment of the people and sustained economic development, Bhatia noted how since India’s independence the number of universities had grown from 20 to 400 and colleges from 500 to 18,000.

“While striving for its own growth and excellence, India is committed to sharing its skills, expertise and experience with other friendly nations such as South Africa,” he said.

UWC has become the fourth South African university in as many months to host major India-related events, signifying the growing links at this level between the two countries.

In August this year, the president of the African National Congress and India’s minister of state for external affairs jointly inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi-Luthuli Chair of Peace Studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

Two days earlier in August, South Africa’s deputy minister of foreign affairs and his Indian counterpart jointly inaugurated the Centre for Indian Studies at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Separately, Stellenbosch University hosted a special India Day at its campus in the same month.

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