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In Conversation With Appa Madiwale, Vidya Poshak

Nirmala Garimella

Vidya Poshak, Building an Ecosystem of Higher Education for Underprivileged in India

Appa Madiwale is one of five volunteers in USA dedicated to increasing awareness, among North American people, of work Vidya Poshak is doing in India. Vidya Poshak empowers underprivileged college bound bright students to pursue higher education through scholarships, text books, and soft skills training for employment and holistic personality development. The second highly successful program is Graduate Finishing School, a three month soft skills training program to get fresh graduates ready for and succeed at good paying jobs. 100% of the trainees have been placed till now at end of each training period.

Mrs. Sudha Murty, Infosys Foundation, Bangalore: "I really like their effort in finding out the bright but economically backward students. They keep accounts very transparent. They are sincere in their efforts. They have touched different parts of the society and those children without Vidya Poshak help probably would have perished".

Dr. Desh Deshpande, serial entrepreneur and Deshpande Foundation: "Vidya Poshak is a great organization that digs out these nuggets of talent. So the question is who should support organizations like Vidya Poshak? I think the way Vidya Poshak should get funded is by millions from few and few from millions".
 Give us some background on how Vidya Poshak was founded and the need at that time ?

Raghavendra  Tikot, a statistics professor and Pramod Kulkarni, an IIM-A graduate  started Vidya Poshak in 2001 with 65 students. Vidya Poshak supported 4600+ students in year 2010-2011. With privatization of higher education in India many students faced problems in joining higher education due to increased cost of education. The percentage of underprivileged students seeking admission was below 10%. Privatization also suddenly thrown open many opportunities for the young educated youth.

 Are scholarships given in engineering and medical degree alone on any other discipline?
Financial and non-financial support is given to students starting from 11th standard through first and graduate degrees in all fields. Students in Engineering and Medicine are supported for first two years and Education Loan available from public sector banks in India are facilitated for subsequent years.

What is the criteria for granting scholarships? Is it purely an economic criteria?
Students from families with income less than $2.5/day and excellent merit are selected as Nurture Merit Scholars. Financial eligibility is verified through house visits by trained volunteers and eligible students are ranked based on state level board examination results. VP scholars are selected by matching the available VP resources to the top segment of ranked student list with good geographic distribution.

When did the US volunteer become active? How many are involved here?

The USA volunteering activity was initiated in year 2009 during Prof. Tikot's visit to Boston with Deshpande Foundation. Currently we have five active volunteers in USA creating awareness in USA about Vidya Poshak work and helping raise funds.

Donations are currently passed through "American Service To India", a tax exempt 501(c)3 non-profit in California. Donations can be made online at www.asti1.org or by check payable to ASTI with Vidya Poshak written in bold letters in the memo section mailed to PO Box 2456, Costa Mesa, CA 92628-2456. ASTI transfers 100% of the donation to Vidya Poshak in India.

What has been Vidya Poshak's impact? Why is it relevant in today’s India ?

More than 12,000 students have been empowered to pursue university education through Vidya Poshak Nurture Merit Program and more than 800 fresh graduates from vernacular medium have been trained and placed in good paying jobs at end of each three month Vidya Poshak GFS soft skills training. Vidya Poshak is active in most of Karnataka and few districts in Maharashtra by itself and with like minded partner non-profits.

Proliferation of variety of educational institutions to villages and small towns in India has provided easy geographic access to higher education. However it is very challenging for financially strapped and uneducated families to send their children to university courses and particularly professional degree courses.

Fresh college graduates with elementary and high school education in the vernacular languages are handicapped in getting and succeeding at jobs. Only a small percentage of fresh graduated in India are employable in high technology jobs without additional training at great cost to the companies.

What is Vidya Poshak’s ultimate vision?
Every financially and educationally disadvantaged student in India knows that university education is within his or her reach and brings about a paradigm shift in the educational culture of the whole family.

 Additional sources for more information:

Vidya Poshak India website: www.vidyaposhak.org.in
Vidya Poshak Nurture Merit Program Video:        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dqQvbdX9oY
Vidya Poshak Graduate Finishing School Video:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NasclC3wJqs
Vidya Poshak Students at Microsoft India giving program Video:

Contact: Appa Madiwale, 518-356-2688, 518-466-8512(cell)  appa.madiwale@vidyaposhak.org

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1.Link correction June 2, 2011appa 

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