According to India’s secretary for Economic Relations in the ministry of External Affairs, T S Tirumurti, the programs will be delivered as the second phase of a tele-education initiative called the e-VidhyaBharati and e-ArogyaBharati Network Project (e-VBAB) later this year.
The project will include short term courses, undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs that will run on web-based portals connecting educational institutions and hospitals in India with participating universities and hospitals in all 54 African countries.
The aim, the official explained, is to open the door to education and medical expertise from India to African students, doctors, nurses and paramedical staff.
“The ministry is spearheading the second phase of the tele-education and tele-medicine project titled e-VBAB… which will offer 15,000 scholarships to African students over the next five years… from top Indian universities,” Tirumurti told the recent India-Africa Higher Education and Skills Development summit in Delhi.
“The e-VBAB portal will be opened soon to all African nationals and will include partner universities and hospitals,” the official added.
The initiative is being implemented with the support of India’s ministry of Human Resources Development and will target students who do not want to or cannot undertake training in India, Tirimurti noted.
India has eased the visa requirements for African nationals to attract more students from the continent, he told the event hosted by Confederation of Indian Industry and attended by representatives of countries including Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, DR Congo, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mauritius, and Rwanda.
“We truly welcome students from Africa to come and study in India. It can be seen in our liberal visa regime for African students… most African countries are eligible for e-visas,” Tirimurti continued.
“And those students who don’t want to take the flight to come to India can now get an Indian degree from the comfort of his or her home as in the case of tele-education courses of e-VBAB.”
Over the past four years, India has established training centres across 14 African countries mainly ICT, vocational training and entrepreneurship, he observed.
The country’s Study in India program will be expanded to cover some 30 African countries, allowing learners from the countries to benefit from less stringent visa restrictions, according to R Subrahmanyam, secretary for India’s ministry of Human Resource Development.
According to reports, over 4,500 African have already applied under Study in India, which has been particularly successful in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.
India, Subrahmanyam said, would create positions in some of its best institutions of higher learning for the benefit of international students, and a third of the places would be offered concessional fees, allowing foreign and diaspora students to access different forms of scholarships.
According to Buti Kgwaridi Manamela, South Africa’s deputy minister for Higher Education in South Africa, the country and India are engaged in negotiations aimed at establishing a Mutual Recognition Agreement in a big to help South African countries with a sizeable Indian population easily enrol in Indian universities.
South Africa, he disclosed, is also in the process of developing a policy for internationalising its education system a process that could benefit from the input of India.
The Confederation of Indian Industry estimates that there are about 25,000 African students enrolled in over 500 Indian institutions, attracted by affordable fees.
Tirumurti added that India and Africa are emerging with high growth and higher optimism for the future.
“We need to empower our youth. It cannot be done without education,” he said.
“If we make sure that [the] current youth of India and Africa become the best-educated generation, there is no limit to what they can achieve and there’s no limit to what we can achieve.”