The lack of good, affordable, educational opportunities for the poor and the marginalized is not a problem only for this particular school and its students. Although Nepal’s educational statistics have improved because of the recent focus on primary and secondary education, not enough is being done to facilitate higher education. Every year, some students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds triumph in the SLC exams (tenth grade) but are denied access to quality higher education that can effectively transform their lives. We want to learn from our engagement with the system now, and collaborate with partners such as Teach for Nepal, Santi School Project, Biruwa Ventures and Foundation Care For All-Netherlands to create a vision of quality and equality in higher education. We will always be mindful of the local context, and nurture local relations, to move our project forward. We pledge to take small, reversible steps as we grow, so that our successes can be replicated with ease, without paying a heavy price for the mistakes we might commit along the way.
We are creating an engaged, sustainable program at the institutional level, facilitating good quality education for the poorest and most marginalized. We are building a comprehensive program at the national level, reaching out particularly to rural communities that face the most difficulties in accessing higher education. While we are learning along the way, we are convinced that accountability, transparency, and sustainability are our core values.
We have identified two key ways of making a difference: by influencing change within the system as well as changing the system itself. We recognize that our current efforts are geared towards facilitating change within the system. Our goal now is to demonstrate that it is the lack of opportunity, rather than ability, that limits the potential for students from rural and marginalized communities. The performance of our fellows at the national and international levels over the last year are testimony to our belief. At the same time, we are also using this experience to learn about the opportunities and constraints within the higher education system. Our ultimate goal will be to document these processes alongside our interventions, so that we can build a strong evidence-based case to effect systemic change that will facilitate more meaningful opportunities for the needy and most marginalized.
Our work has not gone unnoticed, as this recent award demonstrates, so we hope to ultimately create a national endowment to ensure the sustainability of the programme. We are on our way to creating an enabling environment for our fellows so that they do not only become empowered themselves but also contribute towards the empowerment of their communities. Our selection mechanism emphasizes not only academic prowess but all-round excellence coupled with a strong commitment to social responsibility, so that the fellows can be effective, positive change-makers as well.