Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cambridge University to help India improve primary education

The University of Cambridge will soon partner with India to improve its primary education system, its vice-chancellor said on Friday. "The work will range from improving teacher quality, learning systems and evaluation. We want to collaborate and work on the entire education system at the primary and secondary level. However, Cambridge will not set up any school in India," Cambridge VC Sir Leszek Borysiewicz said. Sir Leszek, a 61-year-old medical researcher, is on his seventh visit to India.

So far, Cambridge has collaborated only with higher educational institutions in India and partnered for research in chemical biology, therapeutics, stem cell research and nanoscience with many institutions, including the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

"For any education system to survive, the foundation must be strong. UNESCO has been pointing out the need to strengthen this fundamental phase (primary and secondary).That's our objective. Next week, we'll commence talks on our primary education project with the Indian government," he said.

Reiterating that India will continue to be a major innovation partner for Cambridge, Sir Leszek said the university has 270 projects with Indian institutions. "The focus is on building partnerships with these institutions as they're committed to quality. It's important for universities to also invest in research in the Arts and Humanities. Science alone is not enough."

He said despite the UK's government's tough immigration laws, there's no drop in the number of foreign students to Cambridge. "I do not agree with the UK government on the restrictions. We must open up to overseas students. In any case, students are not denied visas."

Asked what programmes offered by Indian institutions attract UK students, he said: "PhD students are interested in doing individual research in science and humanities in India. For example, a Cambridge student took up the Indian elections as a research project."

Sir Leszek is unperturbed about Cambridge's rankings in the World University rankings. "I completely disagree with its methodology. We in Cambridge choose not to comment or react to our or other university rankings. It's a silly way to assess universities. Unimaginable talent comes to Cambridge from all over the world. For 800 years, we've been committed to quality and excellence," he said.

Source: The Times of India, September 13, 2014

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