India House Hosts Indian Education Ministers and Community Leaders

Rani Singh Monday 26th January 2015 13:16 EST

Wednesday 21st January the Indian High Commissioner, Mr Ranjan Mathai presided over an event at which three Indian state education ministers and a state minorities commission member met with some community representatives in London.

Among the other members of the HCI present were Deputy High Commissioner Dr Virander Pal and Madhu Sethi, First Secretary Education.

Mr Pritam Lal, First Secretary Co-Ordination, organised the event.

Among the guests were Lord Diljeet Rana, top UK BJP official Lalubhai Parekh, and Dr Madhavi Amdekar.

Mr U. Sudhir Lodha, State Minorities Commission member for the government of Tamil Nadu was there.

Mr Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Gujarat Government Minister for Education from primary to higher level, food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, legislative and parliamentary affairs, spoke first and said that he, like his colleagues, were in London to attend the World Education Forum. In an interview with The Asian Voice, he said that among topics discussed at the forum were innovation, skills, and the quality of education. He said, “Nowadays there is a discussion about the quality of education and the quality of teachers. This subject was discussed among the 110 countries represented.”

Mr Chudasama spoke of an enrolment drive across 18,000 Gujarat villages. Over around 12 years, child enrolment in state education jumped from 75% to 99%.

Mr G. Jagadish Reddy, Telegana Government Minister for Education, also interviewed with this paper. He spoke of a new policy promised by his chief minister before the formation of India’s 29th and newest state. The promise was to create free state education for everyone from nursery to postgraduate level.

Next to speak was Mr Vinod Tawde, Maharasthra’s Minister for Education, Youth Sports and Culture. He said that the WEF had discussed the common issue of mass education, teacher training, quality of education and skills development. He stated that his state colleges were falling short in research. He expressed an interest in tie ups with overseas colleges, virtual classes, and connecting institutions with inner cities. He said that all of his state’s universities are going to use a grading system as of 2015, and that he looked to the diaspora for dialogue with his state.

Mr Tawde said that by 2030 India would be the youngest country in the world. “Our PM Mr Modi has emphasised skills development. If our human resources have to travel all over the world then it should be totally skilled.”

Mr Mathai, the High Commissioner introduced Lord Rana. Diljeet Rana said that he had a charitable trust that was bringing education to parts of rural Punjab. There were “Difficulties” along the way, he said, so the Indian diaspora could play a big part “with its experience in education and its teachers and professors. These professionals could deliver lectures and spread them to Indian colleges. Doctors could help with healthcare in rural areas. NRIs from a village could become a patron of a school and then they will feel obliged to solve problems like the internet not working, water and toilets.” Lord Rana urged that a framework be organised “Where the diaspora can help the rural environment, not just with money but with knowledge to improve our institutions.”

The Asian Voice also gained an interview with Mr. Lodha. He talked about a scheme called “Paro Pardes” meaning “study abroad.”

Mr Lodha said, “In India we have six religious minorities; Christians, Sikhs, Parsees, Buddhists and Jains. The Ministry of Minority Affairs in Delhi has launched a scheme whereby if anyone wants to go abroad for a masters or higher qualification; if he or she takes a bank loan the interest is waived.

The only criteria are that he or she has to be from a minority and that the person who is giving the bank guarantee has to have an income of less than six lakh Indian rupees.

The Sunny Varkey group had launched a global teachers’ education summit and President Bill Clinton chaired the event.

President Clinton talked about how in China, teachers are seen as the third most noble profession after doctors and lawyers. In India we do not recognise our teachers at all. So we decided to do an event to honour the teachers whose students scored the best marks. A gold medal or a first place. We got appreciation from Shri Narendra Modi Bhai who said that after mother, father and the guru, the most important person is the teacher. He congratulated us and said that this scheme should be done in all states; all states should honour and respect teachers.”

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