VELLORE: 642 students received financial assistance in the form of scholarships worth `44 lakh from the Universal Higher Education Trust (UHET) on Wednesday at a function held at the VIT university campus.
Students that received the scholarships are mainly from poor economic background. Most students who received the scholarships are pursuing arts and science courses;other students are pursuing professional courses and diploma programmes. Around 78 per cent of the students are first generation learners and 63 per cent of them are girls.
Founder of the UHET and chancellor of the VIT university, G Viswanathan, while handing over the assistance to students pointed out that the aim of the scholarship programme was to encourage and motivate students hailing from poor economic background to pursue higher education.” We made a humble beginning in 2012 by launching the trust and distributing the scholarship to eligible students from Gudiyattam Assembly constituency and gradually extended to six more constituencies in the district in the last two years” he noted.
So far the trust has distributed `77 lakh of assistance to over 800 students, he added. “Last year the staff and faculty members of the VIT University had donated their one day salary, an amount of `2 lakh to the trust and the students had also collected around `1 lakh,” he further said.
“This is the first time such an effort was being field-tested to provide scholarship to poor students to pursue their higher education,” Viswanathan said adding, “We are receiving good response from the locals to support our mission.”
Quoting the Annual Status of Education Report 2013, he said, only around 34 per cent of students in the 5th standard in Tamil Nadu government schools were able to read books of second standard while the similar percentage for private schools was 26. While private schools were doing better at middle and high school level, they were not doing well in elementary education. “We have serious problems at elementary level, which needs to be addressed by both the Central and State governments,” he stressed.
Teachers must be paid well and trained to handle elementary education. Political parties should evince interest in this issue and our education system must be freed from corruption so that the country will be able to compete with other countries on all fronts, he added