EDUCATION PLUS

Pay it forward



The “Revolving Bank Guarantee”, a unique scheme started by a Pune-based NGO, aims to make qualitative education more accessible to the economically weaker sections of society in the country and the world. This programme has already received commendation from stalwarts such as eminent scientist and rajya sabha member M. S. Swaminathan.

The man who conceived this model, Avinash Gawai, wants to bring higher education within the reaches of all sections of the society. “The youth power of the nation is being wasted due to lack of professional education and that is why many students, despite their merit, cannot come into the mainstream of today’s globalised world,” says Mr. Gawai, founder of the NGO, the Centre for Human Development.

Through this model, financial help would be provided to deserving students in the form of a loan. The scheme professes to be different from other loan options available for the students today as it will ultimately be funded by the payback of the original beneficiaries.

Unlike most other education loan schemes, this programme also covers the living expenses of the student in addition to the educational costs.

“The scheme is currently in the first stage where we are raising money to kick start the project. By 2010, we expect to have enough corpus to start sponsoring students,” says Mr. Gawai.

“We are accepting contributions from companies and philanthropic individuals.” VB Foundation, headed by ex-IPS officer and social activist Vikram Bokey, has donated a corpus of Rs. 11 lakh to get the project running.

In the year 2010, ten students would be sanctioned loans. According to Mr. Gawai, students pursuing short-term professional courses, such as Retail Management and Information Technology, would be given first preference.

Candidates will be selected backed on their ecomonic background and academic performance. Students who have already secured admissions in colleges are eligible. A committee would be set up to facilitate the selection process.

Students who benefit from the scheme are not expected to pay back the loan until they secure a job. “Once the loan is repaid, the person who benefited from this scheme can donate seed money to keep the scheme afloat as a gesture of goodwill”, says Mr Gawai. “Therefore the corpus keeps growing and more young people will be aided. This is why the scheme gets its name. ,” he adds. This multiplier effect, according to Mr Gawai, would bring about a revolutionary and a welcome change in the educational system itself.

“I want to see this model replicated all over the country and the world. Anyone can adopt it in order to help further the cause and make education more plausible for the deserving,” he says.

AISHHWARIYA SUBRAMANIAN

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