Sanjay Thapa is the founder and managing director of Sape Events & Media Pvt. Ltd in Kolkata in India. Here he discusses the upcoming India Education Fair 2018 to be held in Yangon at the Summit Parkview Hotel on March 23-24 with Mizzima’s Myo Thant.
Please could you introduce yourself?
We are involved in organizing an education fair across the south Asian countries. Ane when we organized the education fair we came up with the views of students in the south Asian countries and the institutions from India. So we facilitate the students of south Asia to understand about the education system and how they can pursue careers in our Indian university.
So you are going to introduce the education fair in our country. Can you explain what you will be presenting at the fair?
Let me tell you, we are a very diverse country. India attracts thousands of students from across the globe which provides the opportunity of multicultural interacting with people from different cultures, teaches tolerance, acceptance of diversity and help to build close cultural connections.
So I am talking about why Myanmar students come to India. We have a very long border but we also have very close culture, our cultural similarities, and our systems, even the food habits. We are so close. So when the students are obtaining an education in India they will not find (problems) they will always feel at home.
Why should Myanmar students attend this fair?
Number one, that is what I said, India we are a multicultural country. It means an acceptance of any kind of a race, culture, anyone who comes to India, because we lead ourselves into different cultural systems. If you come across in India, if you cross from one state to another state, we have a different habits and culture, and different people. So the acceptance of what we provide in India for Myanmar students is easy. When they come to India, number one, they will not find themselves far from the place (their home country). Number two, they will not find a lot of cultural shock because there is a lot of Indians also look like Myanmar people. If you come to northeast India, where we have a long border with Myanmar, so that helps students of Myanmar to come to India.
Every country has its own education system. Myanmar has its own education system. Can you tell me about your country’s education system?
This is a very important question you ask. Definitely every country and every government they set up their own education system and they have every right to have their own education system. So India has an education system called ten plus two plus three. We have ten years schooling and after that we have higher education, it goes for two years, then after that students go to university.
So, what I understand we have in Myanmar is we have eleven years of schooling and after that passing of eleven years of school, students go to university for four years. So the question arise that Myanmar doesn’t have the same system as India has. And definitely a lot of Myanmar students are asking am I able to go to India to study and yes of course the Myanmar students can also come to India for a higher education, number one. When you complete your eleven years of schooling, when you have to go to university, you need to complete the first year of university. So that means you have completed two years of education. After that you can always come to India for our graduation programmes and for engineering also, like students who have already completed eleven years of education and are already in engineering for three years as a diploma, they can always come to India for a degree.
So there is no such problem in terms of the students of Myanmar if they think there education system is different, so definitely there is always a bridge provided by the Indian education system to come to study in India.
We here in Myanmar are involved in the teacher centered approach. Can you offer more detail about your approach?
The Indian education system we definitely still … if you look at the education system and look at the history we have, as you Myanmar people dominated by the Buddhists, you must be aware of Nalanda where Buddha got incarnations, that is close to Bodh Gaya, so Nalanda used to be one of the oldest universities in the world and we have a guru, the teachers and students are closely related system, so India also strongly believe in the system that event the Myanmar believe on. So our system is always close to the Myanmar. And one more thing I just want to mention how the Myanmar education and the Indian education is so close if you look at the Yangon University, so that is one of the oldest universities in Myanmar, right?
So, one upon a time this Yangon University also was affiliated to the Calcutta University. So those who studied in Yangon University they used to get a certificate from Calcutta University in India so our system is almost the same what we have in Myanmar.
Why should Myanmar students choose Indian education?
Then again, I come differently, for students who want to go abroad for an education so definitely it comes to mind why I choose India, right? So number one I said we are culturally very connected and close, right. And we are not far from Myanmar. Our land border is closely related. Number two, India provides you a world class education and most important is affordable cost. So definitely when students look to higher education, definitely cost is also one of the factors when they decide the further education. And when they decide about further education, definitely cost is another factor.
So India gives you the very affordable education. It is not that if students choose education in European countries maybe they need to pay ten times more than the India university does. At the same time, the Indian degrees are world recognized, they are equally recognized across the world. So it gives you the Myanmar students have a lot of benefit and advantage, they choose India education.
As you know, Myanmar is a poor country. Are there any scholarships to go to Indian universities?
Yes, if you talk about scholarships, we have two scholarships, one is provided by the Government of India, it is called ICC Scholarship. This scholarship is absolutely 100 percent free, right from your lectures, accommodation, and traveling also. So if you are interested you can definitely log in to our Indian Embassy website where the details are provided and definitely I would request that those students not able financially so India government are providing free scholarships. So you need to sit for exams, provided by the Indian Embassy. And apart from that there are a lot of private universities in India, they are also offering a lot of scholarship. Those are free to 50 percent, depends on the marks of students, so there are various scholarship schemes offered by the Indian government as well as private university.
If they want to apply, what are the requirements for the students?
That depends on like if you are looking for a degree that is why I told that students who are into the first year in university, have completed the first year in university, they can always apply for a normal graduation course. And people who are looking for engineering, those who have already completed three years diploma here, they can always now apply for a graduation course degree in India. And students who are looking for a diploma, there is no such problem. Once you complete eleven years of education here, they can always come to India to do a diploma course.
Is there any entry exam?
In India, another advantage, the hurdle if we want to study abroad, definitely if you look to Australia, European countries, America, you need to pass those exams. So India, we don’t want the students to go through those tests. We only require basic English knowledge and writing skills. So once the students have decided to go to India, the university, even the Embassy will conduct a very simple test, whether students are equipped to handle the English education or not. So it is very easy.
Please can you explain about the India university rankings?
So if you look at the definitely we talk about the Indian education, definitely people want to compare whether the degree is world recognized, number two, is it a ranking, is it a good ranking university. Let me tell you I have already briefed that Indian education has a long history, we started with the Nalanda University, one of the oldest universities and today we have the Indian Institute of Technology, management, science, we have so many universities that are world recognized and having a very good ranking in the world standards. So today anyone who comes to India to have this degree, this is recognized across the world and it gives a lot of value so I just want to add that if you look at the top CEOs around the world, I think we all know Google, Google is headed by an Indian guy, Sundar Pichai. And we all drink Pepsi, and the Pepsi is headed by Indra Nooyi. So many and I think there is no doubt about, people are aware about the fact when I travel in South Asia, every South Asian understand that India is one of the best countries for information technology. So students who are also interested in information technology, definitely India is a place to study.
What about the cost of living in India?
That is a very good question. When the students go abroad, a lot of factors come to mind, the tuition fee, how much am I going to pay, and second is what is my living expenses. The living expenses in India is almost equal to Myanmar. If you pay around 100 dollar I think it comes around 100 lakh Kyat so that is more than enough to have one month living in India. If you compare it with the western of American, we are almost paying one fourth of what you pay in other countries.
So number one you have having the same meals as what you are having in Myanmar and number two our living cost is equal to what you live here. So coming to India is definitely doesn’t bother students from Myanmar because, number one, our cost of living is what you have exactly in our place also.
How many foreign students study each year in India?
Every year we get around 60,000 to 80,000 students coming to India from across the world. So today if I talk about the students you must be we get a student from a European country, an American costs to study, Chinese come to study in India, but the Myanmar definitely we don’t have an exact number of students coming to India but roughly estimated by the education consultant who sends students across the world, so they said that in India around 500 students come from Myanmar. And this number is increasing day by day.
What are the most popular subjects?
The number one point when we talk about the Indian education, we talk about Myanmar coming to India, so we have one of the biggest example, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. She studied in India at Delhi University. She did the entire, even the schooling from India. So that gives you an example, looking at your leaders, definitely the Burmese people should understand what is the standard of Indian education.
What is your message for students who want to study in India?
I will definitely want to convey this message to Myanmar students. Number one, when you choose the careers, it is very important, it leads to your golden life. So number one when you choose a career, you should listen to yourself, you don’t listen to others. And try to find out what is your passion in life. What excites you to do something. So follow your passion. And choose the subject where you can do the best. Because ultimately most of the people around the world who are successful turned their passion into fruition. So I will definitely convey this message to all the students of Myanmar. Follow what you decide yourself, follow your passion and definitely you will have a golden career.