Instigated by Prof. Uma Coomaraswamy, Vice Chancellor of the Open University of Sri Lanka in a meeting in New Delhi on 14th December 2003, the SAF launched 10,000 Scholarships for economically and socially disadvantaged students who wish to pursue Post Graduate or Vocational courses via Distance Learning.
The Memorandum of Understanding had a duration of three years.
In India, the SAF-Madanjeet Singh Scholarship Scheme enables meritorious students from poor and remote areas, scheduled castes/tribes, or/and students who are physically handicapped to pursue higher studies and vocational diplomas through distance learning.
The scholarships are offered through State Open Universities in several states throughout India, which have agreed to partner with the SAF-Madanjeet Singh Scholarship Scheme by entering into an Agreement with the Foundation. It has been SAF's endeavor to keep the SAF Madanjeet Singh Scholarship open and transparent.
Merit and means were the important criteria in the selection of candidates. The founder of the SAF wants the scheme to aim to maintain gender equity.
From his days photographing the tragedy and chaos of the partition in 1947, to being thrown in prison as a Freedom Fighter, to writing one of the first and most definitive books on the art of the Ajanta caves, and eventually becoming a celebrated Indian diplomat - no person has a better understanding of our South Asian society and culture than Ambassador Madanjeet Singh. In fact, it was during these travels across South Asia, as a young man, a budding photographer and as a freedom fighter, that Ambassador Singh first experienced the concept of Regional Cooperation.
Our story begins in 1939, as Ambassador Singh boarded a train for Benares to start his studies at the Benaras Hindu University. His experiences at BHU were life altering, as he fondly recalls in his book, the SASIA Story - students from all over South Asia, from all economic backgrounds would live, eat, play sports and study together. At the time, this way of life proved to be very different from the existing societal norms, not only in India, but of South Asia as a whole. It was this experience of living in harmony and in close quarters that contrasted with the degradation of society brought about by prejudice (of colonialism, the caste system and the like) which would ultimately lay the seeds for the South Asia Foundation.
It is well known, now with the onset of globalization, that no society or country can survive or sustain itself without cooperation from other societies or countries. The idea of Regional Cooperation, in this context however, extends the notion of cooperation from beyond economic, into the cultural and academic realms as well. At a deeper level, the necessity of cooperating regionally must be instilled in the youth of today, who will become the leaders of tomorrow. As such, the South Asia Foundation has from the very start, promoted programmes such as Scout Camps, Environment Camps and Group Scholarships to create a cross cultural youth movement across the South Asia. Every year, students from all eight SAARC countries participate in SAF Scout and Environment Camps that promote the individuality of each country, yet at the same time, also celebrate their binding cultural commonalities. Group Scholarships, on the other hand, provide students from these countries, the chance to study at the very best graduate programmes at various SAF Institutes of Excellence. Hence forth, the South Asia Foundation will concentrate on Group Scholarships.
SAF – India would like to particularly thank your University and all those involved for the hard and dedicated work that you have done in regard to the SAF Madanjeet Singh Individual Scholarship Programme. As for the students, we at SAF – India, hope that you will carry forth the ideals of Ambassador Singh, so that, one day, we can provide a meaningful, secure and fulfilling future for the following generations.
Thank you for your participation,
Director of Operations, SAF India
As decided in November 2006, the SAF Madanjeet Singh Individual Scholarships Programme with the Open Universities across India, would come to an end upon the completion of the Scholarship distribution process for the year 2007-2008. However, SAF-India will honour scholarship commitments made to students who are in 2 or 3 year graduate programmes enrolled either during this, or last year’s session.
During the months of April and May 2007, twelve Open Universities were visited to get an idea of how they felt about the Scholarship programme and how they function in general. The overall sentiment was quite strong for the SAF Scholarships, as the Open University phenomena is still quite young in the country, and not many third party organizations sponsor Open University / DistaJnce Learning initiatives. Of course, this sentiment may change, as Distance Learning is slowly beginning to gain favor as the preferred way of imparting education to India’s masses.
Copies of the SASIA Story were handed out to all the students in their local language, and the new SAF Brochure was also displayed
Netaji Subhas Open University, Kolkotta
Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University
Yashwant Rao Chavan Open University
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University
Maulana Azad National Urdu University
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University
Tamil Nadu Open University
Karnataka State Open University
Jamia Hamdard University, Delhi
As most of the cheques had already been sent through direct mai, Dr. S.H. Ansari (temporarily overseeing the SAF programme) talked briefly about SAARC, SAF and the objectives of both organizations; together, we handed out the remaining cheques to the students.
Uttar Pradesh Rajarshi Tandon Open University
The total number of scholarships awarded: 9915 scholarships.
309 more have been given for vocational training in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The energy and enthusiasm of the youth in South Asia rooted in technology and culture should be channeled towards building a strong South Asia based on peace, tolerance and unity, through promotion of education and sustainable development.”
The scholarship certificates allocated to the Open University of Sri Lanka were handed over to the first batch of 120 needy young students on 14th September 2004, at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. The selections ensured gender balance and a wide geographic distribution from all parts of Sri Lanka, including students from the thirteen underprivileged districts. They were enrolled for the Certificate in Pre-school Education, the Advanced Certificate in Pre-school Education and the Postgraduate Diploma in Education.
SAF-Madanjeet Singh Scholarship Awards Ceremony
Colombo, September 14, 2004
Message on the occasion of launching the 10,000 SAF Madanjeet Singh scholarships programme
Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, September 14, 2004
In 2005, the numbers of selected awardees increased to 197 indifferent programmes: Diploma in Technology, 3 year programme; Diploma in Industrial Studies, 3 year programme; Certificate in Industrial Studies,one year programme; Certificate in Entrepreneurship, one year programme and Advanced Certificate in Pre-School Education, one year programme.
Open University, SAF collaboration for SA studies
Within the South Asia Foundation, an ambitious educational project, called the South Asia Foundation Learning Initiative or SAFLI in short, was established in September 2002, linking a number of Open Universities in SAARC countries.
June 3, 2003