1500 girl students from degree colleges across Jammu and Kashmir will be awarded scholarships to help them undertake high-quality and tech-driven online skilling programmes in cutting edge technologies like Digital Marketing and Data Science with Artificial Intelligence. A proposal to this effect was jointly agreed upon by the Higher Education Department J&K and the upGrad Foundation – the philanthropic and not-for-profit division of Higher Edtech company upGrad.
upGrad Foundation will be supporting this initiative through its 100 per cent fee waiver for tech-driven programmes to help deserving and shortlisted female learners through its social impact initiative – Vidya Shakti Scholarships.
However, the initiative will not be confined only to online courses and scholarships but will aim to deliver an all-encompassing education experience with added benefits like one-on-one mentoring and learning and guidance through webinars and talks. It will also offer strong placement support in the form of internships and job opportunities facilitated by the upGrad Foundation for enabling positive career outcomes for the learners. The initiative will educate and empower female learners coming from underserved sections and marginalised backgrounds and connect them with role models to guide and inspire them to follow in their footsteps. It will also provide a 70 per cent scholarship for reputed PG courses in Management and Executive PG programme in Human Resource Management.
While access to Higher Education and focus on skills are among the major goals of the National Education Policy 2020, substantially increasing the number of youths with relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs, and entrepreneurship will also significantly contribute towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 2030.
With females being hit the hardest by the pandemic, the girl students especially in remote areas were facing challenges in terms of higher education and employment. The support of the upGrad Foundation in getting women learners to access the mainstream job market through digitization and upskilling will be a tremendous boost. The said initiative is initially being introduced in 16 colleges but can be expanded later on.
This is one of the many initiatives of the Higher Education Department to improve access to quality education, skills, and knowledge in remote and distant areas and especially for girl children. The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Rohtak is already running an Entrepreneurial Internship programme focused on women learners in Jammu and Kashmir. The department too is also promoting skilling initiatives on a large scale and has integrated skill education seamlessly with mainstream education.
Add-on skill courses will now be offered as 30-credit integrated courses in 12+18 format wherein 12 credits will be either embedded or as add-on components while 18 credits will be offered as skill training by respective Sector Skill Councils under the certification of NSDC. Skill development infrastructure in the Higher Educational Institutions of J&K has been created in a Hub and Spoke Model and 15 Hub and 75 Spoke centers stand already established with seed money of INR 10.00 Crore. The domains offered include Electronics, Computers; IT, Horticulture, Agriculture, Pharmacy, Paramedical, Food Science Technology, Fashion Technology, Epiculture, Sericulture, Veterinary Sciences, Financial Management, Engineering, etc. The department is also planning to set up 15 centres for Innovation and Incubation to encourage start-ups and help incubate promising ideas. It is setting up Research and Innovation hubs in colleges and designating universities as mentor institutions to create an ecosystem of research and innovation.
“The reason why upGrad Foundation was brought to life is now reaping fruits. We are overwhelmed to have joined hands with the J&K government to capture the length and breadth of the region and drive impactful initiatives. We look at enabling college-going learners with tailor-made, affordable, and accessible education that will not only bring them correct professional guidance but will also present learning flexibility for building a rewarding career for themselves,” concluded Sanjay Kumar, President – Corporate Affairs and Public Policy – upGrad while commenting on the development.