The pursuit of higher education is fraught with
many challenges for the students coming from the marginalised backgrounds in
our country. Weak English skills, financial hardships, lack of proper
information and guidance, caste and gender discrimination, urban-rural divide
are few among many challenges. These challenges, products of a deeply unequal
society, create insurmountable barriers for them to enter into the hallowed portals of higher education. The lack of diversity among the students and teaching communities in India’s top universities and educational institutions is a glaring testimony to the fact.
Nalanda Academy with its focus on training, mentoring students from marginalised, rural and poor backgrounds for quality higher education is one small effort in providing these students equal opportunities.
The Foundation Course
The Academy offers a 10 months course for the students who have either completed their 10 +2 or are graduate in any discipline and aspire for admissions in premier educational institutions for various under-graduate and post-graduate courses in social sciences, law, management, communication and other related fields.
The course has been designed to rigorously train students from non-English medium and rural backgrounds in English, Maths, Economics, History, Political Science, Indian Constitution, Logical Aptitude and Current Affairs so that they are able to compete in different All India Entrance Exams for admissions in prestigious universities and colleges.
The admissions in the course takes place in the third week of June every year with a brief interview of the students interested in joining the course. The first preference is given to students from marginalised castes belonging to poor rural background. The Academy does not charge any tuition fee and provides all support to the students without putting any financial burden, however we do not have residential and mess facilities for out-station students. Therefore we offer few monthly scholarships to deserving students to cover their accommodation and food expenses in Wardha.
At present, for 2019-2020 batch, 250 students from 15 states have enrolled for this course and are studying with us. In the last 6 years, more than 300 of our students have been selected for studies in top universities in India and abroad.
The seeds for the Nalanda Academy were sown in 2013 with a 4 months training program conducted by Anoop Kumar at Dr Ambedkar College of Social Work, Wardha for 22 under-graduate women students. Since then the program has grown into a full-fledged 10 months Foundation Course offering a unique opportunity for the students from the non-English medium, rural and marginalised backgrounds.
Subedhar Ramji Ambedkar Library
In June 2014, with the support of the local community and friends, Subedar Ramji Ambedkar Library was set up at Dr Ambedkar College of Social Work, Wardha. This community library now caters to hundreds of students, from in and around Wardha, preparing for various competitive exams with quality reading material and proper study environment.
Samyak Buddha Vihar
In September 2015, the local community offered our Academy free access to hold all its classes at Samyak Buddha Vihar. Since then the Academy has been operating from this space. The Vihar houses a library, lab and classroom facilities for over 200 students. Babasaheb Ambedkar envisioned Buddha Viharas as knowledge and community resource centres. Samyak Buddha Vihar, Wardha is one such attempt.
The Academy specialises in training students in social sciences and humanities, however the need was felt to create a suitable platform for students who wanted to pursue their interests in sciences, design and technology. Abhiyan Humane with his expertise in Arts, Sciences and Design took the initiative and organised a month long Science and Technology Summer Workshop for the school children at the Academy in June 2016. The workshop was attended by over 100 school children and its success led to the creation of Nalanda Labs in July 2018.
Nalanda Academy: A Short Documentary
Anoop Kumar, Director
Anoop is a Post Graduate from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. He is a founder of Insight Magazine and has been working with Dalit students and their issues for more than 20 years.
Kapil Wankhede, Asst-Director
Kapil is a Quantitative Financial Analyst graduated from Stuart School of Business, Chicago. He also has a degree in Petrochemical Engineering from BATU, Raigad. He has worked with MUFG Union Bank, New York.
Sapna Jambhulkar, Mentor
Sapna has Masters in Library and Information Sciences from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She is a founder of ‘Sanghamitra Collective’ and mentors young women students for higher education.
Minakshi Jiwane, Administrator
Minakshi is an Arts graduate and has diplomas in HR and Library Sciences. She works as the Administrator, Nalanda Academy. She is also the local guardian for out-station students.
Manisha Gote, Librarian
Manisha is a Post Graduate in Social Work from RTMNU, Nagpur. She is in-charge of Abhiyan Libraries in Wardha. She also coordinates all Nalanda Outreach Programs.
Vishal Sarpe, Head-Documentation
Vishal is a professional filmmaker with Masters from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. He heads the documentation unit of Nalanda and teaches our students skills in film making and photography.
Gaurav Meshram, Community Organiser
Gaurav is a Civil Engineer and has been providing technical expertise to Nalanda since the beginning. Currently he works as a community mobilizer for the Academy.
Deepak Naranje, Accounts
Deepak is a Post Graduate in Labour Studies from RTMNU, Nagpur with a background in Commerce and Accounting. He heads the accounts and legal section of Nalanda Academy.