I take this opportunity to compliment Ethiopia, which availed of the opportunity to become the first country in Africa to foresee the benefits that would accrue from this project. Education and knowledge are the prime drivers of all economic and social development and we are happy through this project to be able to strengthen our cooperation with Ethiopia in this critical field.
There is a long tradition of cooperation between India and Ethiopia in the field of education. During the sixties and seventies, very many Indian teachers were teaching in Ethiopian schools. Many of their students, who now belong to the older generation, still recall their contribution. The relationship has now evolved and presently about 450 Indian teachers are teaching in universities all across Ethiopia.
I am also happy that India is the favoured destination for higher studies by Ethiopian students, where they receive quality education at affordable costs in a friendly and culturally familiar atmosphere. About 3000 Ethiopian students are currently in India for higher studies on self-financing basis. On return, they would be useful assets and contribute to the development of Ethiopia.
The tele-education programme would have several benefits. It would help provide higher education at low costs in diverse subjects from top quality Indian institutions. Students would not have to leave the country. The programme is expandable. I am glad that the first semester examination of the MBA course has been successfully conducted in June, and the induction programme for the second semester has started today.
I am also happy to know that the Ethiopian government desires to expand the tele-education programme to twenty other universities and colleges, for which they are already in contact with the TCIL. This will expand the reach of the programme to benefit people in different parts of the country. We would be happy to be partners in this effort.
On this occasion, I would like to thank the Minister of Capacity Building, Minister of Education, Director General of EICTDA, President of the Addis Ababa University, and all other officers and staff at the Addis Ababa University for providing their invaluable support for enabling this Indo-Ethiopian tele-education project to successfully take off.
We in India are happy to be part of Ethiopia÷s efforts to provide better education to its citizens.