Qatar Foundation (QF) is highlighting the strong educational ties between Qatar and India as the country marks Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture.
The Indian community’s contribution to the cross-cultural flavour of Education City, QF’s flagship development, is just one aspect of the educational connections between Qatar and India. About 3,000 students of over 80 nationalities are experiencing the value of a multicultural academic environment at Education City and among them is a 160-strong Indian student community.
These – and other – ties between the two nations will be celebrated throughout 2019.
The Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture is the latest edition of an annual cultural exchange series between Qatar and a chosen country, traditionally consisting of art events, festivals and exhibitions that strengthen cultural and diplomatic links. The Years of Culture programme is an initiative of Qatar Museums.
Syed Mustafa Husain Abidi (second left) with fellow students at the launch of the ‘Aggie Desi’ club
QF’s educational ecosystem is a cultural bridge-builder – and QF’s Indian students can testify to the benefit that it brings to their studies and their lives, inspiring them to contribute to their adopted nation.
Among them is Syed Mustafa Husain Abidi, a first-year mechanical engineering Indian student at Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq), a QF partner university. Together with his classmates, he recently co-founded an Indian subcontinental club at Tamuq, aiming to collaborate with other QF student bodies to promote the Indian culture and introduce cricket as an official sport at Education City. “QF’s diverse community inspires students to openly represent their cultural background,” he says. “It also offers us great facilities, clubs and organisations within its universities, and these encourage us as students to organise events, many of which reflect and promote our own cultures and backgrounds.”
Zinnira Shaikh, who considers Qatar as “my home”, is another QF student to have experienced the benefits of both the calibre of education and the multicultural academic community at QF. She is studying for MA in Islamic Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, a QF member, and says, “Education City has presented us with the opportunity to enjoy a high-quality education in a very culturally diverse environment without having to move abroad.”
And, for Rahul Balamurugan, a third-year student at Tamuq, the benefits of QF’s cultural diversity are interconnected with its academics. “Apart from QF being a very diverse and multicultural place, which has warmly welcomed me, it also offers high standards of teaching by experts in specialised fields and the opportunity to learn subjects that are different from the major you are taking,” he explains.
Connections of knowledge and opportunity between QF and India have also been strengthened through the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), a QF initiative that has created a global community united in its commitment to shaping the future of education.
Since its establishment, WISE has supported many Indian educationists and education projects, through its WISE Awards – which recognise and promote innovative projects addressing global education challenges – and the WISE Learner’s Voice Programme, where young people’s perspectives are applied to the challenge of rethinking education.
In 2012, WISE Prize for Education was awarded to Dr Madhav Chavan, a key driver of equality of access to education in India, and Indian thought-leaders in education have made vital contributions to WISE’s research.
WISE has also established a partnership with Observer Research Foundation– a leading Indian policy think tank known for hosting the Raisina Dialogue, the country’s premier conference on geopolitics and geo-economics. Such partnerships amplify QF’s contribution to pivotal economic and geopolitical forums in the context of education, and also reflect how the educational diversity in its connections with India stretches beyond students.
“WISE aims for non-traditional partnerships when approaching India,” said Elyas Felfoul, director of Policy Development and Partnerships at WISE, outlining the benefits of placing education onto the agenda on non-educational platforms in countries such as India and China.
“Discussing innovation in education at education-focused forums is one thing; however, doing so in economic and geopolitical forums could allow policy-makers to connect the dots between how efficient education can be as a means of addressing global issues such as the refugee crisis, water shortage, youth unemployment and poverty,” he added.