Union Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who heads the Indian National Commission for Co-operation with UNESCO, met the Director General UNESCO,Ms Audrey Azoulay in New Delhi today. They discussed issues of importance to both India and UNESCO. Ms Azoulay is on a three day official visit to India. Shri Pokhriyal had previously met the DG when he led the Indian Delegation to the 40th General Conference of UNESCO in Paris in November 2019. Secretary, MHRD, Shri Amit Khare, Secretary, I&B, Shri Ravi Mittal, delegation from UNESCO and senior officials of the Ministry were also present on the occasion.
Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal welcomed the DG, UNESCO and reaffirmed that India, as a founding member of UNESCO, was committed to achieving its goals through various national and international programmes. He said that with over 700 million young people in India, issues of education at all levels- primary, higher and tertiary, are of great importance to both UNESCO and India.
The Minister and the Director General discussed means by which education can benefit from technological advancements such as information technology and how to gear it up for the future in this digital age. Education for girls and their increasing participation in STEM, vocational education, teacher training, education for the weaker and marginalized sections of society and those differently-abled are also important issues that formed a part of their discussions.
In his meeting Shri Pokhriyal informed that Government of India has recently reconstituted the Indian National Commission for cooperation with UNESCO. The Commission had a very fruitful meeting last week in which the work being done in each sector was discussed. More importantly, a lot of deliberation was focussed on how to promote cooperation and coordinated action among the five sub commissions under the INCCU, and how to further enhance our engagement with the UNESCO.
Shri Pokhriyal highlighted that on the educational front, the Government of India is fully committed to the attainment of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals 4. India is working to further UNESCO’s objective of making quality education available to everyone. He said that various steps have been taken to improve the access, equity and quality of education. The Minister added that a New Education Policy is on the anvil, which has been formulated after the largest ever process of consultation with stakeholders. This policy will go a long way towards attainment of SDG Goal 4. He further said that the initiatives like NISHTHA– the world’s largest teacher training programme, LEAP and ARPIT for higher education faculty, Prime Minister’s innovative learning programme DHRUV, or the MOOCS portal SWAYAM are all significant steps in this direction.
Shri Pokhriyal highlighted that the Government is also working to internationalize education through schemes like STUDY IN INDIA that encourages enrolment of foreign students in Indian universities, SPARC that promotes joint research between Indian and foreign institutions and GIAN for international faculty teaching courses in Indian institutions.
He added that India can share its experience with Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA), Operation Digital Board (ODB) – Smart Classroom, MOOCS portal SWAYAM with other member countries who need it. Similarly initiatives like NISHTHA, LEAP and ARPIT can be shared with other member countries and collaborations can be built around these.
The Minister said that the values that Mahatma Gandhi stood for, are cherished and respected the world over. He appealed that as the world observes 150 Years of Mahatma Gandhi, India and UNESCO can come together to organize celebrations in member countries. India can share the interactive and digital exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi. Similarly, exhibitions on Sardar Patel and Guru Nanak can be showcased by UNESCO in other countries.
Shri Pokhriyal and Ms Audrey Azoulay signed the Operational Agreement extending the presence of Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) for a further period of 5 years. MGIEP is a New Delhi based UNESCO’s Category 1 Research Institute, maintained wholly by the Ministry of Human Resource Development that focuses on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.7 towards education for building peaceful and sustainable societies across the world. In line with its vision of ‘Transforming Education for Humanity’, the institute’s programmes and products are designed to mainstream social and emotional learning in education systems, innovate digital pedagogies and to put youth as global citizens at the center of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. DG, UNESCO and Shri Pokhriyal also laid the foundation stone for the premises of MGIEP.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay is in New Delhi for a 3day visit to India from the 4th to 6th of February 2020. Her visit re-emphasizes India’s close ties with UNESCO since its inception in 1946 and the shared ethos of promotion of peace and intercultural dialogue. The Director General will also call upon Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during her visit.
Ms. Audrey Azoulay began her visit from Rajghat by paying her respects to Mahatma Gandhi, who was a living embodiment of UNESCO’s ideals and values. In October 2018, the Executive Board of UNESCO had passed a resolution titled ‘Remembering the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi’ to commemorate his 150th birth anniversary.