India plans to set up a slew of educational institutions in Africa over the coming years in a soft diplomacy initiative at a time when it is competing with China over presence and investments in the region.
The human resource development ministry will set up an Africa Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (AIEPA) in Burundi and an Africa Institute of Information Technology (AIIT) in Ghana under the plan, top government sources have told HT.
At least another dozen institutes, including one on foreign trade and management, are also in the pipeline though they are yet to be finalized, the sources said.
“This is part of a larger plan to gain goodwill by selling one of India’s strongest points in Africa – our education – which will in turn help Indian firms that invest in Africa,” a government source said.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal was earlier scheduled to visit Africa for a ten-day trip starting Saturday but had to postpone the visit because of additional responsibilities as telecom and science and technology minister.
The National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), the government’s chief higher education policy planning university, will help set up the AIEPA in Burundi, the sources said. The NUEPA Vice Chancellor R Govinda is currently visiting Burundi to finalise the project.
The AIEPA will be modeled on NUEPA and is envisaged as an apex institution that will lead education policy and administration across African countries.
One of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) will be roped in to help start the AIIT in Ghana. “An Indian government team will soon visit Ghana to finalise those plans,” a source said.
The move by India comes amid growing calls from African countries, during bilateral and multilateral interactions, for greater participation by India in helping improve education in Africa.
Indian universities annually receive thousands of students from Africa – the largest from any continent outside Asia.