The department is a lively community that is recognised internationally as one of the top centres for research and teaching in development studies.
The foundation initially recruited six fellows, including Jeni, from one school in the Kathmandu Valley, all of whom had performed exceptionally well in the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) taken at the end of 10th grade.
‘We focussed on gifted students because they have proven themselves so far despite the system, so they have the best chance at succeeding through this difficult transition,’ Shrochis says. 'We hope to empower our fellows to defy the systemic odds and successfully transition to higher education and gainful employment'.
According to Shrochis, only around 36 per cent of children in public schools pass the SLC nationally and even those who do pass may find it hard to continue their education; many are likely to drop out and look for work in the informal sector or head to the Middle East if they can raise the funds. Those who stay on might be forced to do so in schools that offer a lower standard of education with an obvious impact on their performance. And the pass rate nationally for both the 11th and 12th grades is just 40 per cent.
Thanks to Samaanta (which means equality in Nepali), the fellows were able to complete the final two years of their secondary education at a private school in Kathmandu, and the foundation renewed the fellowships for three students to continue into tertiary education.
One earned a place to study computer science at St Xavier’s College, one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country, while Jeni and another student received partial scholarships to study business administration in Kathmandu.
Following further recruitment, the foundation has now supported 14 comprehensive fellowships so far.