SPEECH - LAYING OF FOUNDATION STONE OF REDUIT CAMPUS
28 AUGUST 2014
· My colleague Hon Minister Suren Dayal, Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment,
· The Chairman of the District Council ,
· Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
· Members of the Knowledge Parks Limited,
· Directors of tertiary education institutions and Distinguished Academics,
· Ladies and gentlemen,
After Pamplemousses and Montagne Blanche, this is the third University campus being constructed. This campus building is the firston this beautiful site, located on the boundary of Reduit, Ebene and Moka.
In 2010, when Government set up a separate ministry to deal with tertiary education, it took the commitment to promote access to higher education and to decentralize university campuses.
Government under the leadership of the Prime Minister Dr NavinRamgoolam has lived up to the promises made to the people. The three campus buildings will be ready next year - the one in Reduit in February and the others in June and July. In addition to this project, Government has created a newenvironment for higher education and has :
· Achieved an increase in the Gross tertiary enrolment rate which was barely 15.1% in 2000, increasing from to 50.1% in 2013.
· Increased the enrolment of foreign students to 2264, the latest figure for this year;
· Set up two new public universities:
- the Open University with satellite campuses at Bel Air and Curepipe; and
- the Université des Mascareignes with campuses at Stanley and Camp Levieux and Beau Plan;
· Reserved 175 acres of land to build new modern campuses at Montagne Blanche, Pamplemousses, Piton and Reduit;
· Introduced medicine courses with the University of Geneva;
· Launched an IIT Research Academy – a première in the world of higher education;
· Established collaboration with Imperial college, University of Aberdeen, George Washington University, University of Oxford, Université de Limoges among others.
We have more than 31 UK and 13 French awarding bodies in Mauritius. The Open University (OU) which started last year has widened opportunities for higher education, especially those in the labour force, for which the traditional mode of classroom teaching and learning is not suited to their circumstances. It is working with some foreign institutions such as University of California and Coursera, the Commonwealth of Learning, University of Columbia and Imperial College.
We have set ourselves the target one graduate per family. This is meant for those children who cannot attend higher education institutions. This is the only way to achieve social integration.Many families in this country still do not have a member with a diploma or degree qualification. We want to give every child a chance to pursue higher education.
Financial assistance is being provided through loans of 100,000 per annum for a maximum of 3 years with repayment one year after completion of course to finance university fees. Students who come from very low income families benefit from scholarships. The number of State-funded scholarships has more than doubled (increased from 30 to 68).We now have 16 Scholarships to best-ranked students with monthly family income of Rs 12,000 or less and 8 to students with monthly family income of Rs 6,200 or less.
Higher education is meant to empower people, remove them from the situation of poverty, and support women. More girls are now enrolled in higher education. 58 % of students enrolled in public tertiary education institutions are female, with 56.5% enrolled on full time basis.
The setting up of the new campus buildings should be seen from the perspective of the Government’s vision to create a population with high level of technical and professional capacity and skills.
This new building is being called upon to become a nucleus for high end technology and innovation. It is expected to house a centre for Nanotechnology, acentre for space science and astronomy as well a centre for Big Data. Nano science and nano-technology refer to the study and application of extremely small particles and is utilized in all science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. Applications of nanotechnology cover a wide range of areas such as car parts, antimicrobial dressing, synthetic bone, jet engine parts, nanotube based screens for TVs and computers, to name a few.
As regards space science and astronomy, we have very experienced academics in this field in Mauritius and they are working on the project for the setting up of a centrewhich will strengthen the involvement of our country in the Square Kilometre Array and other regional Astrophysics projects.
Big Data is the processing of vast amount of data in the most efficient and productive manner. This relies on operation and maintenance of High Performance Computing facilities and advances in software engineering, data mining, algorithm development and so on.
In 1965, almost 50 years ago, the University of Mauritius was established by Sir SeewoosagurRamgoolam, not far from this location. In 1971, 43 years ago, he set up the Mauritius College of the Air to promote education by using media and distance education methods. In 1970 he launched the Mahatma Gandhi Institute in Moka, He established the Mauritius Institute of Education and many other institutions. He stated “ our salvation truly lies in educating and training our men and women in such a way that they are better equipped to face the great battles of life.”
We are very proud today to follow in the footsteps of this great man and continue to serve his vision. Some people may wish to pay tribute to Sir SeewoosagurRamgoolam by offering flowers, or writing about him. But I believe that there is no better tribute for this man who believed in education for the people, than building a school, a college, a university.
You will remember that a few years ago, Ebene was a sugar cane field. Today, it is an IT and business hub. In the same way, a knowledge village – a Carrefour de la Connaissance - has already taken shape in Reduit and Ebene and part of Moka, with more than 20,000 of higher education students and academics - some of them being among the brightest - attending institutions in these regions.
We have all the reasons to be proud today as we see this evolution in the development of the knowledge sector.
I wish to thank all of you for your support and specially all those who have been involved in the construction projectof campuses. I hope to see all of you next year for the inauguration of this new building.