Monday, November 08, 2010

Obama effect: Big-ticket education deals this week

U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to India is set to start to an unprecedented wave of back-to-back, big-ticket international education deals over the coming week aimed at making India a global education destination.

India will sign key education pacts with Canada on Tuesday and the U.K. on Thursday after finalizing projects with Obama's delegation on Monday, top government sources confirmed.

"Don't forget that the U.S., U.K. and Canada are countries that Indians have traditionally thronged for education. It is indicative of India's role in the global education scenario today that they are coming to India virtually in back-to-back trips we have never witnessed before," a senior government official said. "These countries need us as much as we need them."

Named after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the U.S. President, the Singh-Obama 21st Century Knowledge Initiative will be the cornerstone of the discussions between officials of the two nations on education this Monday. The U.S. also wants to declare an education summit with top Indian officials.

On Thursday, human resource development minister Kapil Sibal will ink a pact for a second phase of the U.K.-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) with British minister of state for education and skill David Willetts. Under the UKIERI-2 pact, the U.K. will declare officially a plan to make India a major destination for its students -for education and work experience. "
Destination India" is aimed at increasing the number of British students in India ---currently only about 1000, in sharp contrast to the 50,000 Indian students in the U.K.

Pacts will be signed with private Indian firms under UKIERI-2 to hire British students as interns. "India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. We want British youth to be better aware of India and its evolving realities because India will be a major global player," said a British official involved in the deal.

On Tuesday --- just the day after Obama departs --- Sibal is scheduled to hold talks with Canadian officials for an Indo-Canada partnership in education which Canadian PM Stephen Harper is very keen on, sources said. UNESCO officials are also visiting New Delhi on Thursday for talks with Sibal.

Source: Hindustan Times, November 8, 2010
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