Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Dr. Satya Pal Singh participated in the 7th Meeting of Education Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Member States held in Astana, Kazakhstan today during his three day visit of Kazakhstan from 15th to 18th October 2018.In his statement at the meeting, MoS said that education continued to be a strategic priority in India’s national development initiatives which helped in achieving substantial progress in improving access to and quality of school and higher education. He informed that India had 1.5 million schools with a total enrolment of 260 million students and 8.69 million teachers. The higher education sector comprised 864 Universities; over 40,000 colleges; 11,700 standalone institutions; 35.7 million students; and over 1.3 million faculty. India had also launched a ‘Skill India’ mission in 2015 with a view to skilling 400 million youth by 2022.In order to respond to the emerging knowledge-based economies and the rapidly changing labour market, MOS highlighted that it was imperative for all SCO Member States, being home to cradle of ancient cultures and about 42% of the world population, to invest more in making higher education more job/work-relevant and equipping students with special emphasis on enhancing employability and skills.
He also briefed the participants about India’s major interventions to strengthen technology use and integration in education such as SWAYAM - an integrated platform for online courses offering more than 1500 courses free of cost; National Academic Depository; National Knowledge Network; DIKSHA portal connecting teachers in sharing their best practices; e-Pathsala- a digital repository of school textbooks; Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) to tap the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs internationally to encourage their engagement with institutes of Higher Education in India; Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) to improve research collaboration between reputed Indian Institutes and highly ranked global Institutes of repute through Joint Research Projects etc.Dr Singh had expressed India’s support to the efforts aimed at establishment and functioning of the University of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (USCO) as also the action plan and measures on development and modernization of the national education systems of the SCO member states for 2019-2020 as enshrined in the Protocol that was signed at the conclusion of the Meeting.On the margins of the SCO meeting, MOS had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, China, Russia and Uzbekistan for further cooperation in the education sector.