“For a student, not having to worry about school fees is half the battle won. The scholarship has taken away my tension and all I have to do now is just study. I’m highly motivated to (do) my best and am indebted to Sri Badrika Ashram for believing in me”.
~ Kavita Chettri, student at MMU, Solan
Did you know that of the entire population in Himachal Pradesh, 90% is rural? It is no wonder then that a whopping 61% of students abandon higher education, compelled by financial constraints.
This is where Sri Badrika Ashram comes in. Relentless in its effort to support worthy students from below the poverty line, पढ़ो और बढ़ो, its resulting scholarship programme has witnessed tremendous growth in the past year.
As of February 2022, this pioneering scheme has awarded a total of 65 lakh rupees in scholarships to 111 students – 71% of whom are girls. They are now pursuing mainstream education at reputed universities – Law, Nursing, Engineering, ITI, Hospitality, Education and even offbeat courses like Sanskrit.
MOUs have been signed with 23 universities/colleges so far, the latest being with the NAAC accredited Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) on March 17th. It has 13 faculties and in addition, grants affiliations to 356 colleges across the state. This partnership will allow hundreds of indigent students to gain access to not only financial resources but also to other elements under our scheme.
My parents weren’t capable of helping me pursue higher studies.
I would like to thank Sri Badrika Ashram and all the supporters who have donated funds because of which I’m able to
continue with my higher studies.
Sachin Pratap, Student at Polytech Mechanical Engineering LR College, Solan.
As the programme garnered momentum, the core team found themselves grappling with questions:
- Is only education enough?
- What of students who complete their education and then are unable to find jobs or are married off? How will this education help them then?
- Are the students choosing a career that fulfills their potential?
- Are they aware of the many, many fields that are available today?
- Do they have another dream, a passion?
The solution was a long-term one – mentorship, career guidance and placements.
Thus, began the mentorship component of the scholarship programme, in collaboration with Bodhami AI. The programme opened its doors to the eager devotees of the ashram, seeking mentors, experienced in their respective fields, late last year. The result? Thirty-one mentors for the 90 students who opted for the programme.
The ashram has gone onto a tie-up with the Jawahar Lal Navodya Vidyalayas in Himachal Pradesh, the government-funded schools that offer free residential programmes for meritorious and deserving students. The objective is to provide career counseling to students from Grades 9 and 10 and help them make informed subject choices when they step into Grade 11. Eventually, the Emerging Youth Scholarship & Mentorship Scheme plans to be an independent system within the ashram, with its own processes and technology.
The scholarship awardees were also questioned on other areas where they felt they needed help. The top votes were for sessions on improving English language skills and increasing self confidence. So, as this article goes to publication, a more comprehensive counselling programme covering these aspects is in the works. The ashram had also made its online children’s programme, Zenrich, available to interested students for this very reason.
In keeping with Swamiji’s ideology of organic growth and real impact on people’s lives, this program is earmarked to be the leading social initiative of the Ashram. In 2022 alone, over 325 new scholarships will be granted. We thank all philanthropists and devotees who have come forward to help fund this initiative and volunteer as mentors and counselors.
There is little in the world more rewarding than watching the generation of the future discover vistas that were not available to them before – education, a career, finances and the opportunity to lead an independent, free life.
It is the spring of education here at Sri Badrika Ashram. And it is just the beginning.
Every child has the potential to become a Picasso, a Ronaldo, or a Nelson Mandela.
The right action coupled with the right skillset yields the results we seek.
~ Om Swami