New Delhi: The five BRICS countries on Tuesday agreed to further strengthen their academic and research collaboration in higher education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). Sanjay Dhotre, Union Minister of State for Education, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology who chaired the 8 th education ministers meeting of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries said that India is rapidly expanding digital infrastructure in the country to support online learning.
He underscored the importance of multilateral cooperation especially among BRICS nations, for harnessing full potential of education and its changing dimensions.
Addressing the virtual meeting, Dhotre informed about Indian initiatives under PM eVidya for providing access to quality education through multi-modal means. He spoke of the SWAYAM MOOCS platform, SWAYAM PRABHA TV Channels, DIKSHA, Virtual labs.
Dhotre further said that while India realises the potential of digital and technological solutions for achieving the goal of inclusive and equitable quality education, it also acknowledges the need to reduce and eventually eliminate the digital divide that restricts full realization of this potential, the union education ministry said.
In this context, he said that India is rapidly expanding digital infrastructure through the Digital India Campaign and FTTH connectivity to eliminate disparity in access to digital resources, including digital devices, especially in the case of socially and economically disadvantaged population groups. Dhotre said that India acknowledges the concerted efforts being made by students, teachers, parents, communities and governments across the world to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and build back a more resilient education system, the ministry said in a statement.
He underscored the importance of multilateral cooperation, especially among the BRICS nations, for harnessing the full potential of education, said the official release. Dhotre further said that online learning and digital delivery of education have emerged as important means for achieving education sector development goals and targets set by each BRICS country.
"It is, therefore, necessary that we recognize the importance of leveraging technology to promote access to inclusive and equitable quality education for all," said Dhotre.
BRICS countries resolved to enhance academic collaboration in higher education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), facilitate student and faculty mobility, and encourage twinning and joint degrees. The member countries shared their initiatives in blended and online learning.
The 8th meeting of BRICS Education Ministers was held as part of the 13th BRICS Summit being hosted by India. Ministers deliberated on two themes - Leveraging digital and technological solutions for ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and enhancing research and academic collaboration.
Regarding the need to leverage digital and technological solutions for ensuring quality inclusive education, the member states agreed to generate and expand their knowledge base that would help formulate initiatives in this regard. They also agreed to facilitate the creation of mechanisms that would allow sharing of knowledge and best practices with each other. These could include seminars, policy dialogues, interactions with experts, to name a few, said the official release.
In order to enhance their collaboration in academics and research, the ministers agreed on facilitating the mobility of students and faculty among BRICS partner states, besides encouraging joint and dual degrees between higher education institutions in BRICS countries. They also recognized Technical and Vocational Training and Education as a priority area for every BRICS country and expressed their commitment to promoting collaboration in this area.
The BRICS Education Ministers also shared the policies and initiatives that each country launched to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education.
Prior to today's meeting, the International Governing Board of the BRICS Network Universities had met on June 29, to take a look at the progress made by member states under this initiative so far, and discuss ways to take it further, said the release.