The United States (US) National Science Foundation has expressed interest to extend its collaborations with India in the education and skilling sectors, an official statement said. Sethuraman Panchanathan, Director, NSF, met Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Education in New Delhi on August 9, 2022, to discuss mutual areas of interest and India’s plans for Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) studies under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
According to the statement, the education minister has emphasised that India’s strength lies in its young demographics and strong knowledge base. He further added that a wealth of talent is available in various institutions across different regions of the country, waiting to be nurtured. “NSF should therefore look at increasing its engagement with lesser known and hitherto unrepresented institutions such as NITs, Central Universities and State Universities in addition to the premier institutions in the country,” he added.
The statement further added that referring to the education- skill continuum that is being created in accordance with NEP 2020, Pradhan has also emphasised the necessity to bring the skill sector within the ambit of such collaboration. According to him, this can be done by reaching out to institutions like polytechnics, ITIs and community colleges.
Furthermore, he said it was top priority and responsibility of the Government to ensure that all youth, whether in mainstream academics or in the formal or informal skill sector, get equal opportunity to quality education and skilling so that they are equipped to face the twenty first century challenges.
With a budget of $8.8 billion, NSF is the major source of federal funding in fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences. India’s engagements with the NSF include six Technology Innovation Hubs under which 8 institutions like IITs, IISc Bangalore and others are collaborating in 30 projects and some projects on Cyber Security. Director NSF is in India to explore ways to enhance these engagements, the statement added.
Furthermore, the education minister has asked the Ministry of Education, led by AICTE, to prepare a framework for further engagement with the NSF, also consulting other relevant Ministries in this regard, the official statement said.