Shoreline President Lee Lambert speaks Feb. 5, 2013 in New Delhi. More photos
Shoreline Community College is joining the world in helping India embark on perhaps the biggest expansion of education ever.
Shoreline President Lee Lambert and Ann Garnsey-Harter, Shoreline’s virtual college director, are in New Delhi at the request of the Indian government and the U.S. State Department to present at an international conference on community colleges.
Why India? Because the government there has a goal of launching 300 new community colleges for 2013 academic year and adding thousands more in the coming years.
“India is taking serious the challenge that the demographic dividend poses for them,” Lambert said from India. “As the youngest nation on the globe, with about 600 million individuals 25 and younger, the nation of India could have a positive global impact if they could educate more of their citizens.”
The conference, titled “Mainstreaming Skills Education: Creating Relevant Human Resource,” drew participants from the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“The government of India recognizes that the development of a community college system would be advantageous,” Lambert said. “They recognize a greater focus on skill development, student mobility, partnerships with business and industry, and a host of other factors will be essential.”
Lambert addressed a room of more than 500 conference attendees from India and around the world. He focused on how community colleges are organized, sharing Shoreline’s structure and how it allows the college to create partnerships and respond to the needs students, the community, business and industry and society.
“I also shared the importance of developing programs premised on the notions of portability, stack-ability, third-party validation of industry recognized credentials,” Lambert said. “I referred directly to our work with the National Association of Manufacturers skills-endorsed certification system and the National Coalition of Certification Systems.”
Officials in India acknowledge that to reach their access goals, a significant portion of the education will have to be delivered online. A nationally recognized expert in online education, Garnsey-Harter was invited on the trip to share her experience.
The conference was opened by India’s Minister of Human Resource Development HRD Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju. In his remarks, Raju stressed the need for more skill-based education and appealed to the educational institutions to tailor courses to the needs of industry. He said the new community colleges would offer short duration credit-based modules aligned with established education standards. The goal, he said, is to quickly move students into employment, but also help them accumulate credits that lead certificates and degrees.
Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, is leading the U.S. contingent.
“India and the United States have a long history of educational exchange and collaboration,” Sonenshine said in her remarks.” The Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, which has committed to $10 million over five years to institutional partnerships, is one example. So is the Fulbright-Nehru Program that has benefitted thousands of Indian and American students, scholars, and researchers for more than 60 years.
“Education is so critical to our relationship that we established the U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue as one pillar of our Strategic Dialogue.”
Lambert, Garnsey-Harter and others in the U.S. delegation have met privately with Sonenshine to discuss possible collaborations and other items.
This is not the first time Shoreline officials have traveled to India. Just this past fall, International Education Director Samira Pardanani accompanied then-Gov. Chris Gregoire and others on an international trade mission to India. Both Gregoire and current Gov. Jay Inslee have identified education as an important export product for the state of Washington.
“We would love to collaborate with the government of India to help them reach their education goals,” Lambert said.