Higher Education Link Program

“Students of the Government Schools have fared better than private schools in the CBSE class XII examinations” came as pleasant news at the end of May. Javahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) and Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) stood in the forefront with 96.82% and 95.43% pass percentages respectively. Other government schools too reported well at 83.85% and government aided schools at 85.75 pass percentage. The pass percentage of private schools was 82.40. The challenge ahead is ‘will the students from the government/government aided schools access higher education “equally”? In all probabilities, “NO” – they stand lesser chances of accessing higher education.

Students in the regular government schools are most often first generation learners. The majority belong to SC, ST, Minority or other lower backward classes. They come from socially excluded communities and their social capital and peer group is limited. They have experienced discrimination and may not find people and support to explore higher education. They belong to poor families in the urban and rural areas. Families do not have members who can guide these children into the right colleges, right streams, right courses or even go with them to the colleges and institutions to support them in the process of admissions. Many do not find the right information, do not get information on time, may not have the necessary certificates, do not have adequate money to register. Further, the admissions in Delhi are On- line this time and in English. They do not have computers in their homes or even access to computers in their communities. It is being reported that the computer centres are charging high – may be as high as Rs.500/- for each candidate to apply. Even if one finds a supportive computer centre, the process is laborious and it is difficult to complete in one sitting. The student has to make critical choices without adequate information or preparation and is under stress. The newspapers reported that colleges in Delhi state have set up student support cells. But in all probability, the majority of these students will not be able to reach these support cells. They need support within their habitations. The challenges are too many and many may give up, many may have to look for employment, many may settle for the ‘open colleges’ option denying them the experience of campus life, friendship building – the necessary inter- personal communication skills considered to be import and requirements of today’s professionals. The skills and the confidence attached to these experiences go a long way in shaping ones careers and growth on the path of professional world.

“Higher Education Link Programme (HELP)” is directed towards such students. In its initial effort, HELP has three strategies:

1. The Student Information Booklet (SIB) – provides information on colleges, streams, course, requirements and procedures in admissions to Delhi University, Ambedkar University, Non-Collegiate courses/colleges for women, Women’s colleges, School of Open learning (SOL), Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) in Delhi. It provides information on reservation, scholarships. All information is compiled with details on the sources of information.

Further, the process is presented through window screen shots to make the student familiar with the on-line application process. Frequently Asked Questions are given under all sections.

  1. The Facilitator: Career Guidance & Counseling Booklet (FCB) – helps the facilitator/volunteer to guide the student to her/his best options. The facilitator/volunteer explores the i) student’s interest and natural inclination on subjects, ii) clarifies what are the requirements for applying to particular subjects, iii) outlines possible job opportunities available under different subjects.
  2. “HELP” Mobile App: CSEI has developed Android OS based mobile application to help students access higher education. The app provides basic information at the national level on premier colleges, courses, scholarship and sample questions in General Knowledge, English and Reasoning useful for competitive examinations. This is work in progress.

The effort is to provide insight into higher education opportunities including professional courses and other skilling institutes that one can opt for and take up careers in the same. Along with the ‘Student Information Booklet’ they also need support to make informed choices on their inclination to particular course, nature of the course and its opportunities for future employment. To meet this need CSEI has simultaneously developed the ‘Facilitator: Career Guidance & Counseling Booklet’ for volunteers and facilitators who can support the students. While the Student Information Booklet is focused on Delhi colleges and open school opportunities, the HELP mobile app goes a little further to provide information on premier national institutions too.

CSEI and members of the Delhi Right to Education forum (DRTE) will hold camps at various places in the Delhi bastis to support the students make their choice of studies and fill the application process. The support and guidance to the students will continue throughout the, application period, admission period and also post admission period in the colleges.

This process, we hope, will help build a more equitable and inclusive higher education system in the state. Special word of thanks to Satyendra Kumar who conceptualised the HELP app; Rahul Vimal, Santosh, Rahmath and Trishpal who compiled the materials; Siddharth Parmar who put together the facilitator/volunteer booklet; and Karandeep and Alli who supported the entire process and ChandrakantaBharti for linking the process to the Delhi RTE forum.

Annie Namala
CSEI Team, June 2016