Some 32,000 African students have benefited from Indian government scholarships since 2015, part of the 50,000 opportunities the country had pledged to give African students over a 10-year period.
According to the country’s external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, this is in addition to thousands of other students from the 19 different countries in the continent who have benefited from the virtual education platform, e-VidyaBharti, run by his government since 2019.
“We are committed to enhancing capacity building & skill development among African youth,” the minister said at the 17th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership in Delhi last week.
“In this context, you would recall that we had announced 50,000 scholarships during India Africa Forum Summit-III in 2015, out of which more than 32,000 scholarship slots have already been utilised.”
The e-VidyaBharti offers diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate study opportunities to students and professionals.
A number of students and officials from Africa have been trained under the ITEC program, a technical and economic cooperation initiative run by the external affairs ministry for the benefits of developing countries, he noted. Among others, it includes educational scholarships and a “wide range of capacity building programs including short-term civilian and military training courses”.
“India has helped African countries to promote digital transformation through setting-up of IT Centres, Science & Technology Parks and Entrepreneurship Development Centres,” he observed.
One of the 19 countries that has benefited from the e-VidyaBharti is the East African nation of Uganda which, according to the Indian government, has enrolled over 300 students since 2020.
Africa is one of the major markets for foreign students in India and the continent’s most populous country, Nigeria, had the seventh highest number of students in 2020 with 1,525 learners enrolled in different institutions. The country had an estimated 47,000 foreign international students in its institutions according to different sources.
On the other hand, and in terms of regions, the East African region has been the biggest source of students contributing some around 2,800 out of the 5,800 enrolled in its universities in 2015 for example according to Statistica.
The region, according to James Jowi board member and founding director of the African Network for Internationalisation of Education, traditionally remains the major African source for the continent’s students enrolled in India.
For many years from the 1960s to the end 1990s the country remained the most popular destination for Africans but has since been overtaken by American and European destinations.
The change in fortunes he says is attributable to factors including expansion of the higher education sector in many African countries, and the emergence of new markets such as China.
“The explosion of ICT from the end of 1990s opened new opportunities to Africans”
“In addition, the explosion of ICT from the end of 1990s opened new opportunities to Africans, allowing them to explore destinations beyond India,” he told The PIE News.
Various initiatives and both multilateral and bilateral between African governments and their European and American counterparts have also aided the decline of India as Africa’s most popular destination.
The quality of education in India has also been a factor in the past owing to weak regulation, contributing to a drop in its popularity among many Africans, he said.
“At one point in Africa, it became very hard for India-educated graduates to secure jobs back home in Africa owing to poor quality of graduates coming from its universities, this led to a steep decline of the Asian nation as a destination,” he noted.
The offer of the scholarships in 2015 was in part a strategy to ensure that the country revived its status as a popular destination on the continent, he opined.