Highlights of 5th Meeting of BRICS Education Ministers held in Beijing, China: Beijing Declaratoin on Education

Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education was held on 5th July, 2017 at Beijing, China. The Indian delegation was led by Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Human Resource Development, India. Delegation of all the five BRICS countries participated in the two-day deliberations.

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Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Prakash Javadekar thanked China for hosting the meeting in Beijing. He said that the Education, being the universal good, empowers everybody. It will set the tone for the world of the future. Education is a universal, apolitical agenda. It’s not negotiation, but cooperation all the way. So, increased cooperation in education is the need of the hour.

He appreciated the creation of institutional mechanism in the form of BRICS Network University and BRICS Think Tank Council. BRICS Network University, where 12 universities from each of the 5 countries will engage with each other in education research and innovation, is another commendable initiative. Five areas of cooperation are prioritised which are Communication and IT, Economics, Climate Change, Water Resources and Pollution, and BRICS study. India will participate whole-heartedly in all these cooperative efforts.

Shri Javadekar also said that under the dynamic leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government is reforming and reprioritising its education. In School Education, it is the learning outcomes which are being emphasised upon, and efforts are on to promote creativity and keep alive curiosity and inquisitiveness amongst students. In higher education the focus is on skilling, research and innovation. He emphasised the steps taken to achieve equity through increased scholarships, education loans, remission and fee waivers for disadvantaged and marginalised sections.

Minister Javadekar highlighted some of the initiatives of the Govt. of India in education. He specifically spoke about the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) which provides a relative ranking of Indian institutions, India’s indigenous MOOCs platform, SWAYAM, which has already hosted over 480 courses online and, this year, plan to host 2000 courses and GIAN (Global Initiative for Academics Network) under which 600 professors from 62 countries have already conducted their courses in India and, this year, we expect to receive another 800 faculty from across the world. The Minister spoke about India’s research initiative, IMPRINT, which identifies priority areas for research for India, National Digital Library, which provides over 7.2 million online resources free of cost and is ever expanding National Academic Depository (NAD), Smart India Hackathon, which involved over 40000 students in solving over 300 problems received from various sources.

Delegations from other BRICS Member states, similarly, spoke about education systems of their countries, initiatives taken by them and identifying the areas of future cooperation among BRICS Member States. There were deliberations on the Beijing Declaration on Education which was discussed thereafter in the Senior Officials’ Meetings held a day before on the 4th July 2017. Beijing Declaration identifies some specific activities to deepen the cooperation among the BRICS Member States, encompassing the entire spectrum of education from school and higher education to vocational and technical education.

Before the meeting of Education Ministers, an international conference of Vice-Chancellors of the Universities participating in the BRICS Network University (BRICS-NU), meeting of International Governing Board (IGB) of BRICS-NU and meetings of International Thematic Group (ITGs) of BRICS-NU were held in Zhengzhou, China on July 1-3, 2017. During the meeting, the participating countries signed the Regulation for the IGB and the statutes for the ITGs, thus completing the structure of the BRICS-NU.

At the conclusion of the BRICS Education Ministers’ meeting, a bilateral meeting was also held between the Minister of Human Resource Development, India and the Education Minister of China, Mr. Chen Baosheng when bilateral cooperation between India and China was discussed.

BEIJING DECLARATION ON EDUCATION

Following is the text of BEIJING DECLARATION ON EDUCATION adopted in the 5th Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education in Beijing, China, on July 5th, 2017.
 
We, the BRICS Ministers of Education and assigned representatives of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of South Africa.
 
Having met in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China on July 4th and 5th, 2017 to discuss education reforms, approaches to promoting equity in education and fostering quality education, strengthening BRICS collaboration in the field of education, and exchange of students and scholars and teaching faculty among BRICS Member States;
 
Recalling Brasilia Declaration on March 2nd, 2015, Moscow Declaration on November 18th, 2015 and New Delhi Declaration on September 30th, 2016;
 
Committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4)-Education 2030 which aims to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all” that was set within The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
 
Recognizing the significance of collaboration in the field of education for enhancing the overall partnership among BRICS Member States and enhancing people to people exchanges to a higher level;
 
Realizing that the scale of education development in BRICS Member States is expanding rapidly, and that all Member States face common challenges in promoting educational equity, accessibility and in improving the quality of education;
 
Considering that higher education contributes to the development of high-level human resources and intellectual support for the economic and social development, studies of BRICS Member States will  enhance the mutual understanding between each Member State, and
 
Recognizing that the mobility of faculty and students, and sharing of information among the Member States is of great importance for the implementation of the consensus arrived at the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education.

For ensuring coordinated and deeper cooperation among the Member States, hereby declare to;
1. Reiterate support for the BRICS Network University (NU) to collaborate in the fields of education, research and innovation. Encourage universities to participate in the BRICS University League.
2. Increase cultural cooperation through language education and multilingualism to promote mutual understanding of the history and culture of BRICS Member States.
3. Undertake initiatives to promote professionalization of academics in higher education through the BRICS Network University as a focus of future education development.
4. Encourage more teachers and educational administrators to learn from experience of other countries in improving teacher quality and performance, and promoting the development of education through international exchanges.
5. Strengthen cooperation in the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), share ideas and experiences in the development of vocational educators, and develop projects that are of common interests to BRICS Member States.
6. Recognize the importance of BRICS Think Tanks Council (BTTC), BRICS Network University as well as other BRICS initiatives, and encourage the streamlining of mechanisms for their closer cooperation to ensure the alignment of their work.
7. Emphasize the importance of streamlining the cooperation among educational think tanks and education researchers, and welcome China’s invitation to host a conference to explore possible cooperation among the various entities in BRICS Member States.
8. Encourage the organization of “youth winter/summer camps” to reinforce communication and cultural exchanges among the young generation from BRICS Member States.
9. Encourage Member States to expand the number of scholarship opportunities to students across BRICS Member States.
10. Share the experience and practices in achieving the SDG4-Education 2030 targets in order to foster a more favorable policy environment, adopt effective practices, and advocate for global educational policies that take into account the common concern and priorities of the BRICS Member States.
11. Encourage the participation in the 3rd BRICS NU Annual Conference to be held in 2018, in Cape Town, South Africa and in the BRICS Global Business and Innovation Conference to be held in September 2017, in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, and the Republic of South Africa extend their appreciation to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting the 5th Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education.

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