Diplomatist Special Report: West Asia - North Africa 2018 WANA 2018 - Page 26

India WANA Cooperation on Education By ARCHANA SINHA* T he West Asia and North African (WANA) region was once the cradle of higher education. The two oldest, still-functioning universities in the world are in Egypt and Morocco. The University of Al-Karaouine in Fes has been granting degrees since 859 A.D. The Ancient Library of Alexandria, in addition to being a repository of books and manuscripts, was a centre of learning during the Ptolemaic dynasty, with scholars travelling to there from all around the Mediterranean and beyond. And scholars such as Ibn Khaldoun discovered fundamental economics four centuries before Adam Smith and others. Similarly, Education in India dates back to its early civilization time where the teaching and learning process revolved around the ‘Gurukul system’. This system had been a residential concept wherein the students were educated under the tutorship of a teacher in different areas of religion, philosophy and science. The modern concept of University style education centres was established around 6 BC at Nalanda and Takshila. The concept centralized learning centres with multiple streams continued till the arrival of Europeans to the Indian subcontinent. These higher learning centres were the nerve centre of different dynasties which ruled across India for thousands of years and generated the required human resources for construction, irrigation and warfare. 26 •West Asia-North Africa Yet, today, if we measure the quality of higher education in both India and WANA region, then we will fi nd it among the lowest in the world. Only two or three Arab universities are on the list of the top 500 universities in the world (and none are in the top 200). Similarly, India marks its presence among global universities with only 11 universities in top 500. To deal with it policymakers in New Delhi are working hard to regain its legacy of the middle ages up to 1200 AD, when the higher learning centres were established throughout the Indian peninsula. Learning centres attracted students from Central Asia, China, Middle East, South East Asia and Rome focusing on Literature, Philosophy, Astronomy Architecture whose infl uence can be seen across the world in terms temples, construction and irrigation systems. The Indian government is actively cooperating with the West Asian and North African nations in revisiting the era of cooperation when both the region endorsed traditional University learning centres and worked together in the disciplines of Geography, Law, Administration and Mathematics during the Mughal era in the Indian Subcontinent. An ambitious initiative by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) offers scholarship schemes and also administers a large number of schemes under various bilateral cooperation programmes. There are 17 scholarship schemes which ICCR administers on behalf of various Divisions of