New Delhi, India
New Delhi today played host to the second meeting of the Education Ministers from the SAARC nations. Smriti Zubin Irani, India's HRD Minister was elected as the Chairperson by all the members. During her speech, Ms Irani reminded everyone about India's efforts towards strengthening the education related mutual cooperation when it comes to the SAARC nations. She also stressed upon the need of a well thought out strategy for mutual growth of the member countries. The Minister was quoted saying "Resolve of our nations to work, study and think together has materialized in the form of South Asian University which is funded jointly by all the member countries and has started functioning nearly 4 years ago in New Delhi. It should be our joint endeavour to see it emerge as an institute of excellence which could contribute to creation of knowledge in the region through quality higher education at an affordable cost."
She further went on to add that "I would like to remind all of us the recent Declarations of the SAARC Summits and the importance accorded to education in all the Summits for which we need to work more closely for a rapid change in the existing scenario. Harmonization of academic standards; establishment of long-term linkages amongst universities, research institutions and think-tanks in the region; recognition of educational qualifications; institutionalization of students; academics, teachers and youth exchange programs etc. have been stressed for long term sustainable people-to-people linkages."
Some of the major points of discussion in the meeting included the initiatives taken by India such as an extensive use of ICT in education, stress on e-learning, connectivity, inclusive education; focus on capacity building, online learning courses, and many more. The Ministers also agreed on sharing the best practices among the member nations to bring out the best in their country.
The meeting was attended by the following dignitaries-
- Shri Arjun Bahadur Thapa, SAARC General Secretary
- India's HRD Minister
- Afghanistan's Education Minister
- Nepal's Education Minister
- Bhutan's Education Minister
- Maldives' Education Minister
- Bangladesh's Education Minister
- Senior Officials from Sri Lanka
- Pakistan's Higher Education Commission's Chairman
All the attendees pledged their support towards gender equality in education. One of the other highlights of the meeting was the important discussions around the need for skill development among the students from Higher education. The countries also agreed on opening distance learning facilities to the students from the other member countries.
The meeting was concluded after the adoption of 'New Delhi Declaration on Education' which comprised of the SAARC perspectives on the future path of Education and the need for co-operation in the same.