Exchange programmes to boost ties

India's Skills, Education and Entrepreneurship Minister Dharmendra Pradhan wants to further strengthen the bilateral ties with Singapore by introducing a "relevant and affordable" student exchange programme.

Speaking to members of the Indian diaspora at the Novotel Singapore on Stevens on Wednesday, he laid out India's rich and unique offerings on the educational front.

"Students from Singapore can come to India for dual degrees, yoga classes, learn the best e-commerce practices," he said. Indian Institute of Technology-Madras even has a BSc course in data science.

"These and the many other vocational programmes and courses will be beneficial for them as these are held in a secure and affordable environment."

Mr Pradhan, who has been a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet for nine years, is also open to short-term immersion programmes for students from Singapore.

This will be useful to students who are learning Hindi and Tamil at National University of Singapore.

"Why only Hindi or Tamil? We can look at other Indian languages such as Marathi, Odia and Kannada," he said.

"The Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwa Vidyalaya in Wardha, Maharashtra, is a good avenue for this. There are also other central universities and institutes in India where two-week immersion programmes can be done.

"These can come with hostel or home stay and cultural programmes. Already such inter-state programmes are available for youths in India."

Mr Pradhan, who on Wednesday concluded his three-day visit to Singapore, met his Singapore counterpart Chan Chun Sing earlier in the day.

India's Ministry of Education said they explored ways of deepening engagements in all areas of education and skill development.

"Mr Pradhan explored ways in which Singapore can partner India for seamlessly integrating skilling and vocational education starting from the school level" it said in a statement.

"Both the ministers agreed to broaden the contours of the existing partnership through institutional mechanisms, particularly towards building capacities of teachers and trainers, incorporating future skills into education and skilling ecosystem as well as explore engagement with special schools and sport schools."

Mr Pradhan visited Skills Future Singapore, a key initiative of the government of Singapore to make the country future-ready.

"Continuous and lifelong learning is also the core of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in India. Insights gained today will add value to our efforts in transforming India's skill ecosystem, creating a future-ready workforce and harnessing the full potential of our young to drive national progress," said Mr Pradhan.

He also expressed his gratitude to Mr Chan and Singapore's Ministry of Education for their active participation in the previous G20 Education Working Group Meetings. A delegation from Singapore is expected to join the next G20 Education Ministers' Meeting in Pune, India.

Earlier in the week, Mr Pradhan met Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong, Minister of Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan and Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

He visited schools such as Nanyang Technological University, Spectra Secondary School and the Institute of Technical Education.

India's Ministry of Education said Mr Pradhan got a greater overview of the best practices and models used in Singapore for training the workforce. He also got to know more about the teaching-learning environment.


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