French foreign minister, Catherine Colonna on Wednesday said France wants the number of Indian students in the country to rise to 20,000 by 2025. The minister said there could be no better indicator of peace and true friendship among nations than a student trained and graduated abroad who becomes acquainted with two cultures and can stand up for both.
“The objective assigned by President Emmanuel Macron is clear: 20,000 Indian students in France by 2025. For us to achieve this objective, we must attract, every year, 7,500 to 8,000 students, and therefore increase the actual numbers by 50 per cent. It is very ambitious, but between India and France, sky is the limit,” she said.
Colonna, who currently is on a three-day visit to India further said that to achieve the target, France will expand its presence in India. “We want France to be seen as a leading country in terms of education and research, which it is,” Colonna said. She made the comments during an interaction with students at the Lady Shri Ram College.
According to the official statement, the French minister noted that after the figures went down in 2020 due to the pandemic, France would welcome in 2022 almost the same number of Indian students as in 2019. In 2019, more than 5,000 students completed their procedure for long-stay studies in France, she said.
“We are working hard to enlarge the scope of our cooperation to skill development and professional training in economic sectors, including in areas such as aeronautics, transports and automotives, energy, hospitality and food, fashion, graphic arts and design among others,” Colonna said.
The minister further stressed that gender balance was a necessity in the field of education. “Much has changed when it comes to gender balance but we are still not there yet President Macron made it one of the great causes of his two mandates, for France as well as internationally. At the national level, we have introduced new measures in order to fill the so-called ‘gender pay gap’.”
As part of her official visit from September 13-15, Colonna will travel to Mumbai for engagements with industry leaders and site visits on Thursday, the statement mentioned. She will also hold talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on September 14 “on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest”.
With inputs from PTI