India-US pledge to take education cooperation forward

India-US pledge to take education cooperation forward

In a joint statement on higher education cooperation released at the conclusion of the summit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal agreed to make the higher education dialogue an annual bilateral event to "map out strategies for partnership in the field of education" between the two countries.

The dialogue, which would be held alternately in the US and India, should "identify areas for mutually beneficial exchanges and provide a platform for intense and meaningful collaboration among academia, private sector and government on both sides," the joint statement said.

India announced its intention to set up an "India-US higher education platform as a means to pursue these goals," with Sibal pointing out that the dialogue process has to be managed "effectively".

"We want a physical set up with a portal through which we at our end can carry the dialogue forward," he later told reporters at a reception hosted by Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao.

He said the platform would help identify and connect US institutions with suitable Indian educational partners.

The two sides agreed to work together to ensure a continued expanded US-India higher education dialogue with representatives from government, academia and business that would interact on a regular basis.

"Sibal and Clinton reaffirmed the strategic partnership between India and the United States for meaningful dialogue, cooperation, and engagement in the field of higher education," the statement added.

The countries will also join forces to promote strategic institutional partnerships for strengthening and expansion of collaboration in priority areas of higher education, including science and engineering, social sciences, humanities, as well as address societal challenges in areas such as cyber security, energy, environment, health and agriculture, the joint statement said.

Enhanced cooperation in the field of education between the two would also include expansion in research and development, fostering partnerships in vocational education and skills enhancement, exploration of models for 'educational institutions for the 21st Century' and strengthening programmes for student and faculty exchange.

India also indicated its intention to sponsor initially up to 1,500 faculty and junior scholars to leading universities and research institutes in  the US to promote development of human resources.

Sibal expressed optimism about building on the successful summit through an expanded higher education dialogue to be held in 2012.

The two sides recalled the progress made in bilateral educational relations following the visits by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the United States in 2009 and President Obama to India a year later.

Sibal and Clinton emphasised that access to and development of technology and skills are "cross-cutting" requirements to meet the challenges that the two countries face.

The two leaders also expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved in the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, launched in 2009, under which proposals have been invited by November 1 and will be reviewed by a joint working group for academic awards in support of university partnerships.

Sibal and Clinton expressed their support for the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, which provides fresh impetus to academic collaboration in areas of scientific research and technology development, the joint statement added.

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