Published On: Wed, Mar 10th, 2010

Kapil Sibal: Global collaboration in education can provide solutions to global problems

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Kapil Sibal, Union Human Resource Development Minister, has stressed the need for giving freedom to the universities and education institutions for them to develop ability to collaborate globally and find solutions to global problems.

He said, “Education through global collaboration can provide solutions to the global problems. But we will have to reform the structure to allow it to happen, and for that we need to give freedom to our universities and educational institutions.”

He was inaugurating the Third edition of Emerging Directions in Global Education( EDGE) in New Delhi.  Dr. Martha Kanter Under Secretary, US Department of Education was the ‘ Guest of honour’. Other dignitaries present were Dr. Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, Dr. V.S Ramamurthy, Director NIAS, Prof. V.N Rajashekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU, and Mr. Anand Sudarshan, MD & CEO, Manipal Education amongst many other prominent names in the education sector.

Three research reports – NIAS EDGE vision document 2010; Catalysing Change, EDGE – Ernst & Young Report “Building blocks for education” and FED UNI (Federation of Universities) :Parthenon Report on ‘Bridging The Higher Education Gap: National Universities And Other Models’ were released during the inauguration function. Two More reports – Institute of International Education (IIE) Report on ‘International India: A Turning point in Educational Exchange with the US’ and EDGE-VALUNITES report on ‘Examinations and the role of technology: Emerging Directions were also released later.

In his address, Mr. Sibal emphasized the importance of thinking globally and not territorially. He listed various steps initiated by the government in last eight months concerning higher education like accreditation system, prevention of malpractices. The foreign university bill has been cleared by the cabinet and the discussion on the bill for National Commission on higher education is expected to conclude by March end.

He cautioned that in 2010, we all are standing between “a collapsed past and an uncertain future.” He was confident that the seeds for changes in higher education sector will be sown at EDGE.

Dr. Kanter said that it was a time for both – US and India – to act and lead avenues in higher education. As the two largest democracies in the world it is their duty to educate maximum number of people. She said both the countries have common challenge to ensure access to education and improving quality. US was committed to work towards internationalizing education, she added.

Mr. Pitroda, in his “highlight lecture” said that it was a time to question fundamental issues and a time to change in big way in education sector. He advised the gathering to stop talking and start taking action now. Expressing concerns over declining quality, he said in 90 per cent of our universities the quality was not up to the mark and needed to be improved substantially. He said expansion was also a key issue and the government was committed to open 14 universities of innovation and 400 new colleges. He said diversity was critical to innovation. Elaborating on National Knowledge Commission’s ongoing programmes, he said it is focusing on tagging 100 billion people in the country as well as tagging establishments, places and programmes. With this “we will get better handle on better delivery systems,” he added.

Launched in 2007 by the EDGE Forum, a collective initiative of several leading academicians, policy makers, educational institutions and organizations from India and abroad, EDGE is a premier event focusing on higher education. It brings Global and Indian Educationists to forge cooperative and collaborative programs to further the knowledge exchange and internationalise education. The previous two editions of EDGE in 2008 and 2009 attracted over 350 delegates and stalwarts in the education sector like Dr. Sam Pitroda, Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Dr. Yaravdekar , Principal Director , Symbiosis Society amongst others.