The happiness of 11 year old Supriya knew no bounds and why not after her wish to continue her studies is fulfilled despite her father's inability to pay for it.
Supriya became the proud student of sixth grade at VidyaGyan – the world class school in a remote village of Bulandshahr in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Supriya had always been very good in studies but her father Raj Kishore – who is a daily wage earning labourer – was helpless in letting his daughter continue her studies as he could not afford to purchase the books or pay the tuition fee.
VidyaGyan is an initiative of Shiv Nadar Foundation, which aims to provide an opportunity to meritorious students of the rural areas – who could not continue their studies due to poverty – to study further.
While the Education Bill of the UPA government which promises free education to all children till class twelfth – is yet to get implemented, the VidyaGyan school offers to bear the complete cost of a student's studies from grade sixth to grade twelfth on CBSE curriculum.
Last week the first school of VidyaGyan was inaugurated at Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh in the presence of VidyaGyan Board members including Shiv Nadar, the founder of HCL, TSR Subramanian, the former Cabinet Secretary to the government of India and Rossini Nadar, the Executive Director and CEO of HCL Corporation. Former captain of Indian cricket team Kepi Dev too was present at the function.
VidyaGyan is a radical concept that aims to induct and transform meritorious rural children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, providing them free, world class education - allowing them to transcend the disadvantages they face. In partnership with the government of Uttar Pradesh, VidyaGyan will select rural toppers who are economically disadvantaged and provide them with world class education.
"There is a huge potential among rural students, which goes unrecognised because they do not get opportunities - so we decided to give these rural toppers the means to achieve their true potential and be at par with their urban counterparts", said Subramanian.
The first batch of 200 rural toppers of the fifth grade state board exam have joined sixth grade in VidyaGyan, Bulandshahr from across 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh. In a span of 5-6 years the school will scale up each year to grade twelfth. VidyaGyan endeavours to establish 7 such schools across 71 districts in Uttar Pradesh to provide quality education and mentor to 5,000 students from the rural areas of the state.
The VidyaGyan board member Roshni Nadar said, "The initiative will cover all expenses for students and focus on their holistic personality development by providing them the best school infrastructure with sports facilities and highly qualified instructors."
Speaking on the occasion, Shiv Nadar, Chairman, Shiv Nadar Foundation said, "I have known the power of education in transforming lives and decided to give back to society what it has given to me – education."
The Shiv Nadar Foundation has been established by Shiv Nadar, the Founder of HCL - a $5 billion leading Global Technology and IT Enterprise, which employs over 60,000 employees across 23 countries. The Foundation is committed to the creation of a more equitable, meritocracy based society and to empower individuals to bridge the socio-economic divide. The Foundation aims to achieve these primarily through outstanding educational institutions, which provide meritorious students from all walks of life the opportunity to receive world class education.
(The author is a senior journalist and a fellow of Citizen News Service (CNS) Writers' Bureau)