Capacity building among under-privileged students is a means for achieving social, economic development goals of a nation.
Though meritorious, these students often lag behind those who can afford a good education.
For lack of learning and financial support, these socio-economically challenged ones fall off the ladder of education. Their course of life takes an ordinary path, their merit and intelligence going a waste, which otherwise, would have contributed to nation building.
These disadvantaged students join government colleges initially but give up later owing to lack of proper funds and facilities. Poor standard in government school adds to their disappointment.
Naturally, education becomes a mirage and they take up some ordinary jobs to support themselves and their families financially. They remain unhappy throughout their lives, because they didn’t have the luxury of options. These students are the ones who need continual support so that they can emerge as successful professionals who actively contribute to the growth of the nation.
Realising this plight of disadvantaged students interested in pursuing science and professional courses such as engineering and medicine, the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), established in 1984, with the mission to facilitate and develop process that improve quality of life of underprivileged people, conceived a programme – Viveka Scholar Programme (VSP) – to ‘empower students for a better tomorrow’.
In 1984, a group of young medical students, led by R Balasubramanian, at the Mysore Medical College, looked at health care from a different perspective. They realised that they have to make a positive impact on the lives of the poor and the marginalised if the meaning of health care is to be fulfilled. So, they launched SVYM. Their initial intention was to provide rational, ethical and cost-effective medical care to the needy. They started small – collecting physician samples of medicines and distributing them to poor patients, organising blood donation camps and weekly rural outreach clinics around Mysuru.
From health to knowledge
In 1987, destiny took them to Heggadadevanakote taluk, home of the displaced and dispossessed forest-based tribes who needed support. The young medicos set up a clinic at a tribal hamlet of Brahmagiri, about 80 km from Mysuru. However, they soon realised that medicare, by itself, is not enough, and that education was a panacea to the gen-next. So, they opened an informal school for the tribal kids in a cow-shed in Brahmagiri, and sailed through the initial days of uncertainty and struggle.
As days passed, more people joined hands and their vision took a definite shape. Socio-economic empowerment activities were added to health and
education, and the rural poor were also brought under the ambit. The organisation moved from the role of a ‘provider’ to a ‘facilitator’. A 10-bed hospital was started at Kenchanahalli, along with a host of community-based programmes in health and education.
With generous help from donors, friends and well-wishers, the organisation continued to grow and expand in the 90s, with a definite vision and strategic
direction. It established an office in Mysuru to man the numerous projects and
programmes it had initiated.
Some 60 initiatives under implementation currently, SVYM’s Scholar
programme is very special, because it identifies economically and socially challenged students through school and house visits, and provides them academic and
personality development among other forms of support. Meritorious students with a minimum score of 60 percent in 10th class board examination and whose family income is less than Rs. 1.20 lakh per annum, are offered scholarships.
VSP, too, was initiated from Mysuru, in 2007, with a first batch of 33 students. The philosophy of SVYM to encourage meritocracy and equal opportunity among the disadvantaged group of students is bearing sweet fruits. 873 students have benefitted from the programme so far and 523 students are to join in the next batch alone. During the current year, the programme has been extended to cover six districts of Bengaluru, Tumakuru, Mysuru, Hassan, Yadgir and Vijayapura and has enrolled 517 students.
VSP identifies meritorious students from disadvantaged sections and supports them for two years, during which they are prepared for joining professional courses or any other degrees. These students are taught life skills, soft skills, and spoken English. They are also offered motivational programmes, besides academic teaching (CET coaching, laboratory classes and knowledge centre).
Workshops and seminars, monitoring, assessment and evaluation, and mentor programmes are conducted.
Career guidance, student-parents meeting and counseling, food and accommodation for the needy are part of the YSP.
Besides facilitating financial support, guidance to higher education is also offered.