India will extend its National Knowledge Network to all SAARC countries and allow students in South Asia to access its digital libraries and networking sources, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday.
“Cooperation in the field of education will be of paramount importance if we are to ensure improvement in the inter-linked destinies of the people of South Asia. We are taking several steps in this direction, including through the use of modern means of communication,” Swaraj said at the ground-breaking ceremony of South Asian University (SAU).
The SAU is sponsored by the eight member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri lanka. And its degrees are recognised by all SAARC nations according to an inter-governmental agreement signed by the Foreign Ministers of the eight countries.
SAU started admitting students in 2010, at its temporary campus at Akbar Bhawan in New Delhi till the time it shifts to a permanent campus in Maidangarhi on the outskirts of the Capital. The operational expenditure of the university will be borne by the Governments of partner SAARC member States. At present, over 400 students are studying at the university and five batches have graduated already. The campus is likely to be operational with next three years.
Swaraj also said that the Government plans to work towards making the region more connected and prosperous. “As Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in his speech at the 18th SAARC Summit that India’s vision for the region rests on the pillars of trade, investment, assistance, cooperation, people-to-people contacts and connectivity. In the coming days and years we will work assiduously to make the region more connected and more prosperous,” she added.
“An idea proposed by the PM during his speech at the SAARC Summit last year was that SAU should connect with at least one university in each of the SAARC countries. I believe that an MoU has been signed with Dhaka University and more such arrangements are in the pipeline,” she maintained.