India has announced plans to establish its inaugural Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus outside its borders, selecting Tanzania as the host nation for this landmark endeavour. The decision was solidified through an agreement signed between educational authorities from both countries, during the official visit of India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, to the African nation.
This significant move aligns with India’s National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020, which places great emphasis on fostering international educational cooperation. The forthcoming IIT campus, located in Zanzibar, will commence offering educational programs from October onwards, while also assuming responsibility for devising pedagogical strategies.
The establishment of this IIT campus in Tanzania represents a notable stride towards internationalising Indian education, bolstering India’s global reputation, and fostering stronger diplomatic ties with the African nation. In recent years, cooperation in the field of education, including the establishment of Indian university campuses abroad and facilitating student mobility, has emerged as a pivotal facet of India’s foreign policy objectives.
This development reaffirms the NEP 2020s recommendation to encourage top-performing Indian universities to establish campuses in foreign countries, furthering the nation’s educational outreach on a global scale.
On Wednesday, a significant milestone was reached as the Indian Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training of Zanzibar-Tanzania signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish an IIT-Madras campus in Zanzibar. This momentous event took place in the presence of Zanzibar President Hussein Ali Mwinyi and India’s External Affairs Minister, Jaishankar.
Zanzibar, an archipelago situated off the eastern coast of Africa, merged with Tanganyika in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania. It holds the status of being a semi-autonomous region within Tanzania.
Commencing in October, the IIT campus in Zanzibar will commence offering programs, as announced by the Union Ministry of Education on Thursday. Admission criteria for the campus will be determined by IIT-Madras, with degrees to be conferred by the institute. The planning of pedagogical strategies for the offshore campus will be overseen by IIT-Madras, according to a senior official from the education ministry.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan lauded this endeavour as a significant step towards the internationalisation of Indian education. He tweeted, “The initiative is an embodiment of PM @narendramodi’s commitment to strengthen South-South cooperation as well as forge stronger people-to-people ties with Africa. NEP is paving the way for making knowledge a key component of bilateral relations as well as for advancing global good.”
This development marks a promising beginning in India’s efforts to expand educational collaborations and strengthen relationships with countries in Africa, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of enhancing South-South cooperation and fostering closer ties between nations. The National Education Policy (NEP) plays a pivotal role in facilitating such partnerships and promoting the exchange of knowledge for the betterment of global society.
To facilitate the establishment of campuses abroad, the Indian government constituted a 16-member committee in 2021, led by K Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the Standing Committee of IIT Council. The committee’s primary objective was to devise a comprehensive framework for the setup of international campuses, with a strong recommendation for IITs to take the lead in this endeavour.
The Ministry of External Affairs emphasised that the offshore campus serves as a testament to the enduring friendship between India and Tanzania, underscoring India’s commitment to fostering people-to-people connections across Africa and the Global South.
During the signing of the MoU, Binaya Pradhan, India’s High Commissioner to Tanzania, Raghunathan Rengaswamy, Dean (Global Engagement) at IIT-Madras, and Khalid Masoud Wazir, Acting Principal Secretary of Zanzibar’s Ministry of Education, represented their respective sides.
The agreement formalises the educational partnership and provides a structured framework for both parties to outline the specifics of establishing the campus.
The Ministry of External Affairs stated, “This unique partnership will bring the top-ranked educational expertise of IIT-Madras to a prime destination in Africa and serve the urgent educational needs of the region.” This collaboration is poised to combine the renowned educational prowess of IIT-Madras with the African destination’s potential, addressing the pressing requirements of the region.
The responsibility for setting academic programs, curricula, student selection processes, and pedagogical details lies with IIT-Madras, while the government of Zanzibar-Tanzania will bear the capital and operational expenses.
Students enrolled at the campus will be awarded degrees from IIT-Madras. These interdisciplinary degrees are expected to attract a diverse group of students, including those from Africa and other countries, in line with the vision of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. Additionally, Indian students are eligible to apply for these programs.
The establishment of the IIT campus in Zanzibar will not only bolster India’s reputation and diplomatic relationships but also expand the global presence of IIT-Madras. The presence of an international campus is anticipated to enhance the quality of education and research at IIT-Madras by fostering student and faculty diversity. It will also facilitate deeper research collaborations with other esteemed academic institutions worldwide, as highlighted by the Ministry of External Affairs.
The IIT campus in Zanzibar aims to become a world-class institution for education and research, catering to emerging global requirements. Beyond education, it aspires to strengthen the bonds between India and Tanzania, while also supporting research and innovation within the region.