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CSR Leaders: Dr Ganesh Raja, CEO, Kotak Education Foundation talks about their top education and skill development programmes
Kotak Education Foundation is working tirelessly since the last 16 years to ensure children and youth from underprivileged families in India get access to quality education and necessary skills through their different education-based interventions and skill-training programmes.
Dr Ganesh Raja, CEO, Kotak Education Foundation opens up to The CSR Journal about their scholarship project for students titled Excel Intervention, skill development and livelihood programme Unnati and their recently launched Model School Project. Following are excerpts from the conversation.
1. Please tell us about Kotak Education Foundation’s Excel programme.
Kotak Education Foundation has a long legacy and expertise in offering a scholarship program for students from underserved communities. The Excel Intervention began in 2007 with the start of scholarship project for supporting meritorious students from financially challenged background from M-East Ward- the poorest ward of Mumbai.
The Excel Intervention has been working on the vision of the organisation with the goal to empower meritorious students from underserved communities to complete education and rise above the poverty line, by not only supporting with financial aid but also opportunities for holistic development from two scholarship projects. In 2021 KEF has expanded its wings to include two pan-India projects: Kotak Kanya Scholarship and Kotak Shiksha Nidhi – taking KEF’s work to far flung corners of India.
The first scholarship project of KEF is 10 plus scholarship program which focuses on selecting highly meritorious students from low income families and supporting them with scholarship and other allied programs to ensure they complete Class 12 and take admission into professional courses. After the students complete their HSC, they are supported till they complete their graduation through 12 plus scholarship.
The 12 plus scholarship project began in 2016 and has supported 680 students till date to complete their Graduation. Excel Students from the two scholarship projects are making their mark in their respective professional fields. Amongst the alumni are more than 140 Engineers, 20 doctors, more than 80 para-medical professionals, 40 finance professionals, and students in Indian Army and Air Force who are serving the society.
In 2021, KEF launched Kotak Kanya Scholarship, an exclusive scholarship for meritorious girl students from low income families who have taken admission in STEM and professional courses in high – ranking premium institutes of the India. The project aims to support the career aspirations of these students from across India through financial support for completion of graduation in professional courses from premium institutes and provide opportunities for their holistic development.
2020-21 was also the year of pandemic which led to loss of lives across India due to Covid-19. Continuity of education of millions of students was threatened due to untimely death of the parent. Taking cognizance of this, KEF launched Kotak Shiksha Nidhi, a financial assistance project to ensure continuity in education for students aged 6 to 22 years who have lost a parent or primary earning family member due to Covid-19 by providing financial assistance and support. The project supported over 1500 students with financial assistance and will continue to support them till they complete their education.
2. How did Excel Intervention perform in 2022?
Excel Intervention through its four projects has supported dreams and aspirations of more than 2800 students across India in the year 2022. Last year, 79% of our students secured gainful employments after completion of graduation with an average CTC of 6.25 lakhs and 21% students continued their educational journey by opting for higher education.
In 2021-22, Kotak Kanya Scholarship attracted 75 highly meritorious students from all across India 25 of which were from top ranking IITs and AIIMS. The Kotak Shiksha Nidhi Project supported more than 1500 students through financial assistance ensuring that they continue their education.
3. The Excel Intervention is operational in which parts of India? Where else do you plan to take this to?
At present, the legacy scholarship programs: 10 plus scholarship and 12 plus scholarship are operational in Mumbai for the students from KEF partner schools. A future plan for the scholarships is to take the proven model of scholarships and student engagement across Mumbai.
In terms of the coveted pan-India scholarship ‘Kotak Kanya Scholarship’ launched in the year 2021; KEF’s Kotak Kanyas are currently studying in the most prestigious and high ranking institutes in India in technical, medical, law and other professional fields. Based on the overwhelming response from students in the very first year of its launch, we plan to scale up the project to provide opportunities to more girls from farther corners of India.
Kotak Shiksha Nidhi project of KEF is currently active for more than 1300 students across India.