In his latest OpEd for the Kathmandu Post, former ICI Fellow and Professor Mahendra Lama discusses the possibilities for using the ties between BRICS states to strengthen a range of options, from fighting terrorism and promoting peace to improving educational opportunities. On the issue of education Lama writes:
Education as a critical theme of cooperation among the Brics members could be a game changer. Besides the activities of Brics Think Tank Council and Brics Academic Forum, there have been three major initiatives in last few years viz., regular meetings of the Brics Ministers of Education and delineation of broad principles of Brics Network University (NU) and actions by Brics University League (UL). Besides taking the Sustainable Development Goal 4, related to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’, as a national priority, Brics partners have already identified areas like sharing of macro-data, identifying best practices, applying Information and Communications Technology (ICT) on a much deeper and larger scale, focusing on skills and innovations, and facilitation of mobility of students and teachers as core areas of cooperation.
However, given the physical distance of the members (spanning across four continents), geographical contrasts, politico-historical evolution of member states, relative development status and the governance structures and institutional variations, the Brics member countries have to increasingly adopt non-conventional techniques and practices to initiate and deepen cooperation practices. This is much called for, as Brics, as a cooperation conglomerate, defies the traditional logic and rationale of contiguous geography based regionalism and integration. The very absence of ‘regionness’ makes this grouping both unique and formidably challenging.
Taking education as a core theme, the existing bilateral cooperation endeavours among the Brics member countries have to be gradually transformed into five-country level actions. This is a traditionally available track. On the other hand, the educational institutions at the sub-national geography level within member countries with common socio-cultural, topographical-demographic and bio-diversity-ecological features could be brought to a common five-country level platform. This will be a sharp but rewarding deviation from orthodox framework.
You can read Lama’s full OpEd in the Kathmandu Post.