New Delhi: “We need 125 million young Indians in post-graduation studies and not more than 30 million today are engaged in higher studies as a majority of them need to start working early in their career and so online Learning/Education is the real answer for India. Along with our need to Up Skill, we need to Up Smart too in order to make our core demographic employable “says Ronnie Screwvala as his reason for launching this Fund.
Screwvala has initiated Asia’s first and largest Online Scholarship Fund with a first closing of 100 Crore with an aim to get to 400 Crore in the next 3 – 4 years. He starts with an initial corpus of 10 Crore from himself and will raise the rest from other like-minded individuals, corporates committed to build this eco system of tomorrow as well as from CSR funding. His Swades Foundation is already deeply committed in rural India.
Recent reports from IDFC, World Economic Forum and others have highlighted huge contradictions as almost 75% of Graduates (mostly under grad) are unemployable and on the other side 48% of Indian Employers have difficulty filling their jobs with the right people. “Look our overall Policy focus has largely been on blue collar skills and not the white collar jobs and we need the right mix of priority and we at UpGrad believe that it’s going to be all about striking the right balance between online and Offline capacity building for this 21 century challenge which is more specific to India than any other country” clarifies Screwvala clearly putting the cat among the pigeons.
The Scholarship fund will give out scholarships ranging from 25K to up to 2 Lacs. The Fund will also facilitate loans for those that would not qualify for scholarships but would look for funding to repay once they get promoted post their online studies. Scholarships will pick the high calibre performers looking to seriously upgrade. There will be quotas for those in need but the core aim is to propel excellence The Fund will also invest and partner with UpGrad, India’s premier online education platforms co-founded by Screwvala that is building careers of tomorrow, focussed on everything Data and Digital . “The Indian IT sector pretty much built the Indian middle class in the last 2 decades and now its times to disrupt and re-invent and we believe the careers of tomorrow will involve deep experience in all aspects that touch Data and Digital and we need to be globally savvy and competitive. Also the world is no longer flat as countries around the world turn inwards and protectionist and India needs to holds its own ground and build expertise and excellence,” says Screwvala.
“The message is very clear – we need to Unlearn, ReLearn UpSmart and UpSkill. The focus needs to shit to making modern-day education flexible enough to pursue while working. Professionals should have the freedom to study without quitting their jobs, and online education plays a strong role in this regard. Also, beyond flexibility, online is also the solution for universal access to, and reach of, education. “The offline-only approach to education is fantastic but too expensive and capital intensive and not scalable and trained faculty will remain our permanent backlog. Our Indian Judiciary needs many more Judges and our Education system many more trained faculty but it’s too big a problem for us to be log jammed as we will miss the global – and online allows the best of Faculty to share and address this challenge at Scale while they continue their off line teaching too. This Scholarship Fund is aimed at skilling-motivated individuals in relevant areas and equip them with industry-relevant knowledge. It is to prepare them for what’s to come, so that they are in-tune, updated and equally adaptive to industry changes, and of course the penny has to drop with Employers too that Online is a viable credible option for recruitment and to address their challenges”, signs off Screwvala.