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UK envoy favours strong education ties with India

india Updated: Feb 06, 2010 10:42 IST
Jasdeep Singh Malhotra
Jasdeep Singh Malhotra
Hindustan Times
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“One of my key personal goals is to see many more British undergraduates and graduates spending part of their course in India. This will be of huge benefit to Britain, as India helps to shape 21st century world, as well as bringing real advantages to India,” British High Commissioner Sir Richard Stagg said.

Stagg, commenting on UK-India Education partnership, said, “This is not about one-way flows – whether UK money to India or Indian students to the UK. It is about genuine partnerships, which benefit both countries – that is the only recipe for a sustainable long-term relationship.”

The UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI)’s Study India Programme brought 200 students to India in 2009. “Another 200 will come in 2010,” he said.

“And we believe that, for reasons of history, culture and language, no country is better placed than Britain to be one of India’s key partners in developing a dynamic, pluralistic and high-quality education system – for the benefit of all,” Stagg said.

“UKIERI was launched in 2006 with 10 million pounds. With corporate sponsorship and Indian partnership, the initiative is now worth nearly 25 million pounds. UKIERI has three strands of awards: for collaboration in schools; on professional and technical skills and in higher education and research,” Stagg said.

A cluster involving six Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas and four schools in Devon, Southwest England was established. “As well as visits, students stay in touch by emails and communicate what they learn to other schools and their local community. This is one example out of 375 schools linked by UKIERI school cluster projects,” he added.

He said since 2003, UK has provided 330 million pounds (Rs 2300 crores) for India’s flagship programme to deliver universal elementary education– Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. “Besides, it facilitated exchange of world class expertise in areas like improving access to education; reducing inequalities across gender, geography and social groups; and improving quality of teaching in classrooms,” he said.

The opening of UK Research Council office in Delhi (3rd overseas office) and work of the British Council – including their partnership with India to train 7.50 lakh teachers of English are strategic efforts to produce quality human resource.

The delivery of top quality education to huge population is a critical area for mutually beneficial cooperation between India and the United Kingdom, he said. “Education is the key to economic and social progress. The UK-India education partnership is the right direction for both countries to make the most of an increasingly globalised knowledge economy,” he quipped.