Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani Friday reiterated India's initiatives for a well-focussed education strategy in the SAARC region and strengthening cooperation among the member countries.An HRD ministry statement quoted Irani as saying: "Resolve of our nations to work, study and think together has materialised in the form of the South Asian University which is funded jointly by all the member countries and has started functioning nearly four years ago in New Delhi."The minister was addressing the second meeting here of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) ministers of education/higher education.
She added: "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."The minister said SAARC countries need to work more closely for a rapid change in the existing scenario.Irani said: "Harmonisation of academic standards, establishment of long-term linkages amongst universities, research institutions and think-tanks in the region, recognition of educational qualifications, institutionalisation of students, have been stressed as long-term sustainable people-to-people linkages."
India's initiatives for inclusive education, quality improvement, development and sharing of e-resources, connectivity, e-learning and massive open online courses (MOOCs), mutual capacity building, more exchanges of students and researchers, were also discussed in the meeting.
The statement said each member state agreed to share the best practices and achievements in education.
Education ministers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Malpes and Nepal, besides the chairman of higher education commission from Pakistan and senior officers from Sri Lanka participated.They re-affirmed their commitment to inclusive learning and gender equitable quality education.A New Delhi declaration on education was also adopted at the conclusion of the meeting, identifying SAARC perspectives on the Post-2015 education agenda and regional priority areas of action and it was agreed to expand the scope of cooperation.