INDIA: New Salesian Scholarship Programs Help Poor Youth Acquire University Educations
(MissionNewswire) Building the skills of India’s rapidly rising workforce is a key focus for reducing poverty, according to the World Bank. More than 30 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty while nearly 44 percent of the work force is illiterate and only 17 percent attend secondary schooling. The Salesians in India have been working to make a difference, but the need is enormous.
While progress has been significant and the number of out-of-school children has been reduced from 25 million to 8 million in the past eight years, India continues to have the largest number of child laborers in the world. When children lack educational opportunities, it is often due to issues of caste, class and gender.
In northeastern India, the Assam Don Bosco University has announced several new scholarship programs to help poor youth attend the university in Guwahati. The scholarship programs are based on need and academic success.
“The Don Bosco Society has been in northeast India for the last 90 years and the vice-chancellor, Dr. Stephen Mavely, and I have been serving the region for the past 50 years,” says Father V. M. Thomas, chancellor of Don Bosco Society in Guwahati. “We are not a fly-by-night organization. We are here to stay.”
Establishing the Assam Don Bosco University in Guwahati was a major undertaking but was important for regional growth. Previously, more than 50,000 youth left the area to pursue higher education in other parts of India.
“This was a major loss for the area both in terms of losing a highly intelligent workforce and the financial loss as a result,” adds Fr. Thomas. “Our goal in setting up the university was to lessen the need for youth migration and bring in more financial resources and qualified workers to the region.”
Currently, Assam Don Bosco University is serving more than 5,000 registered students from around the globe. The university plans to award full scholarships to 1,000 students from northeastern India for the online Bachelor’s degree courses in business administration and computer applications. The university has also announced special scholarships for families with single female children.
Those students who suffer the worst poverty while succeeding academically will receive a free education. Close to 1,000 high school students from northeastern India are eligible and are enrolling as residential students at the university campus at Tapesia.
“Salesian programs adapt to local needs,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The scholarships provided will allow students who otherwise could not afford it, the opportunity to acquire an advanced education. The university will teach, train and work with local youth living in poverty who want opportunities for a brighter future.”
Other partial scholarship programs include 25 percent off tuition plus academic fees covered for those serving or retired from the Defense Services in India as well as their spouses and dependent children. Students who qualify as 40 percent or more disabled and former Don Bosco alumni who have completed at least tenth grade at any Don Bosco school in the country will receive the same scholarship opportunities.
University students who are working in the nonprofit sector will be entitled to scholarships covering 40 percent of their tuition and academic fees. Other scholarships will be awarded to students who have been highly successful academically to help them pursue advanced study programs. For students who do not qualify for scholarships, the university has collaborated with local banks in the region to provide educational loans.
“The Salesians are working hard to educate youth in India and provide them a path out of poverty,” says Fr. Hyde. “The academic and technical programs offered by the university show how education and training not only benefit the individual student, but also entire communities as students are able to gain skills to contribute back to the local economy.”
World Bank – India