HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT
In 1998, we introduced the SSLC school leaving certificate in our school. When the first batches of Shishu children were finishing school and showing interest in academics, we responded by finding the best possible way to continue their education. In 2000 two of our students, Viji and Malathi, completed the Pre-University course. They showed interest and aptitude for academics, and we chose to support their college studies as well. It was evident that Pre-University alone would not make our children eligible for a good job, and we were keen on bringing our children to a level, where they can qualify for a decent job.
We began to create guidelines for financial support for higher education. Some of the things we had to consider were the choice of colleges, accommodation, support with extra classes etc. Over the years we have refined our guidelines to encourage more students to consider and pursue academics, while we have had to increase our fundraising activities.
In 2022-23, 100 students were supported for higher education, which spans Pre-University, Bachelors and even Masters programmes. Our students have chosen subjects as varied as life sciences, social work, psychology, business administration and Commerce. Some of our students have chosen to become educators, including Physical Education which is a separate programme. We have also ensured that those, who join these courses, understand the demands of the course and are able to see it through to completion.
HOW WE SUPPORT.
Shishu Mandir bears all expenses towards college admission and fees. Where a student cannot stay at their own homes for the duration of their education, we also admit them in hostels and bear the expenses. A counsellor appointed by us coordinates with the staff of the colleges, which our students attend, participates in parent meetings as the local guardian and keeps track of every student’s progress. All personal expenses are also borne by us. One of our corporate sponsors, KPMG, run a mentoring programme called Aspire where each selected student is paired with a mentor with whom they meet at least twice a year in person, sometimes over coffee or lunch. Additionally, they receive career counselling, life skills counselling, grooming and self-care sessions.
The most significant impact of our Higher Education programme has been that our students are truly employable. Many choose the Commerce stream, and this leads them to opportunities in the financial sector. When they start working and draw a salary, almost the first thing every student does is to shift their families to a better house. They may choose to lease a house rather than pay a monthly rent, they acquire convenience gadgets like refrigerators and spend the first few years improving the quality of life. Our higher education policy has included siblings of our students in addition to our own.
ROTARACT CLUB OF SHISHU MANDIR.
Every college-going student at Shishu Mandir becomes a member of our Rotaract Club. Through this, they come to the school for weekly meetings, and it gives us an opportunity to interact and stay in regular touch. They also offer 100 hours of community service each year. Through the Club, they adopt various social and civic initiatives in the community. We also invite experts to offer life skill sessions every month.