By Groum Abate
Indian fellowships and teachers are playing a major role in spreading education in Africa’s second most populous nation.
With fellowships under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, popularly known as ITEC, “steadily increasing”, a record number of 90 fellowships were given to Ethiopians last year.
The 45th anniversary of the programme was celebrated here with Ethiopian beneficiaries in attendance. India spends over $11.4 million annually on ITEC in 156 countries, with the east African nation with which India has ancient links being one of the main recipients. Under the programme, around 3,000 foreign candidates are given short-term training in India every year in a number of technical fields.
About 500 Ethiopians travel to India every year for higher education and out of these an average 40 travel with scholarships offered by the Indian government.
Under the programme, a record number of 90 fellowships were taken up by Ethiopia last year. Hundreds of Ethiopian students are currently studying in India, a majority of them on self-financing basis.
The new India ambassador to Ethiopia, Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi, said the ITEC, started by India in 1964, was mainly devoted to capacity building through short and medium-term training courses in India. The ITEC has been useful in the deputation of Indian experts as it is one of the important pillars of South-South Cooperation, the ambassador said, adding ITEC fellowships to Ethiopians were steadily increasing.
The number of fellowships allocated to Ethiopia in 2007 was 35, but it has now registered about 150 percent increase and has gone up to 90, making Ethiopia the third highest beneficiary in Africa.
The ambassador expressed hope that during his tenure he would endeavour to bring Ethiopia to the number one position.
While speaking at the Ethio-India Graduates Forum over the weekend, Bishnoi spoke of India’s continued efforts in capacity building of Ethiopia that started years ago with the arrival of Indian teachers.
Since then, the Indian government had doubled the scholarships offered under the cultural exchange programme, under which Ethiopian scholars pursue under-graduate, post-graduate, masters and doctorate degrees from reputed Indian institutions.
As a result of these scholarships, he said, there has been a surge in Ethiopian nationals thronging India for pursuing higher studies.
Efforts are on between some prominent universities and institutions in India and the Ethiopian education ministry to form partnership and collaborate in various fields.
Ethiopia’s State Minister of Education Adhana Haile expressed his country’s appreciation to the support, especially the efforts of Indian teachers currently working in various universities of Ethiopia in spreading education in the country. He said Ethiopia considered India as a role model for overall development of the country and hoped that these efforts would contribute to greater sharing of ideas and experiences between the two nations.