Special Correspondent

Countries in the region adopt resolution to step up expenditure

NEW DELHI: Countries in South, South-West and Central Asia have decided to increase public spending on higher education notwithstanding the global financial crisis. This resolve to ensure that it does not suffer for want of funds was made at the conclusion of the two-day, sub-regional conference of South, South-West and Central Asia on Higher Education here on Thursday.

Adopting the resolution at the preparatory meeting of the region for the World Conference on Higher Education — slated for June in Paris — members said there was need to explore alternatives to augment available resources. They decided to encourage all stakeholders in local communities to participate in resource mobilisation.

Expansion favoured

Also, they favour expansion of higher education through national and regional funding.

Though expansion of higher education in the region has been largely met through an expansion of the public system, the participating countries said possibilities of expanding private initiatives — consistent with public objectives — must be explored. Stating that public support was essential in those states where other actors might not be available, the declaration placed on record the fact that contributions from philanthropic initiatives supplemented the expansion of higher education.

Private initiatives

The Delhi Declaration also acknowledges the role of private initiatives in meeting the rapidly growing need for higher education, particularly technical and professional courses. However, the participating nations were of the view that private institutions should be inclusive in their approach to access.

Also, the signatories urged private providers to balance disciplines for a well-rounded development of human resource in the region in keeping with the national regulatory framework.

Increase enrolment

The Declaration called for increasing enrolment in higher education in the region for participation in the global economy. It also recognised the need to increase enrolment to specially prepare quality faculty for all levels of education.

Taking note of the trend towards internationalisation — reflected in the increased mobility of students, academics, educational programmes and higher education institutions across national borders, and the region is no exception — the Declaration said there was need to establish regulatory frameworks to ensure optimum benefits of cross-border educational opportunities and promote mutual collaboration and equal partnerships.

14 nations take part

The two-day meeting was organised by the UNESCO in collaboration with the Union Human Resource Development Ministry and drew participation from 14 countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan.

It was the fourth in the series of six regional conferences being organised in the run-up to the World Conference.