Shrilakshmi Bhat, daughter of a farmer in Udupi, was finding it difficult to fund her education.
Although Shrilakshmi’s parents have only completed their primary education, they guided and provided her with her education. She secured 97.6 per cent in her class 10 and 96.6 per cent in her class 12 board exams. She secured a rank of 2,776 in the Karnataka Common Entrance Test (CET) and secured admission in PES Institute of Technology in Bengaluru.
Being a hardworking student, admission wasn’t difficult for her, but paying the fees was. And hence, her father decided to take a loan. She says “I was very upset that my father had to take a loan for my studies. However, I came to know about the FFE scholarship programme from social media and applied for the same.” She got selected under the FFE Scholarship programme and doesn’t have to worry about the expenses involved in her education. She is one among the 18,500 students who have been supported with higher education.
Bengaluru-based NGO Foundation for Excellence (FFE) aims to provide financial aid or scholarships to meritorious students from financially backward backgrounds to pursue studies in Engineering and Medicine. Since its inception in 1994, the foundation has provided scholarships to over 18,500 students and to over 5,000 from all over the country, in the last one year. Dr Sudha Kidao, Managing Trustee- FFE India Trust, says, “Apart from our scholarship programme, we have in-house mentoring programme with video interface where we connect our students with industry experts from 350 engineering and 100 medical colleges. The programme is to ensure that the kids are equipped with skills so that they can compete in the market with confidence.” Sandhya Manoj, COO, FFE India Trust, added that close to 85 per cent of their beneficiaries got employment last year.
The organisation has a network of volunteers across India who work as facilitators. “They are retired professors, well-known experts in their respective fields. They identify the right kind of students who apply for scholarships online. They are from the family whose income isn’t more than Rs 2.5 lakh a year. Sometimes, the facilitator visits the house of the family to make sure that the most deserving students get the opportunity,” says Sudha.
Sandhya added that the biggest challenge is to raise funds. Sudha says, “We had to refuse 500 students last year. We get some funds from our parent organisation in the US. In India, we raise some funds from corporate and other foundations. Another important component is that every student who gets scholarship, pledges to make some donation whenever they can. We track and find where the students are placed and approach them to help with either donations or placements of other graduating students,” she says and added that they can also become mentors too and conduct workshops.