Our Education Project: Galaxy School Scholarships

Bright Futures Foundation provides scholarships to bright, motivated Nepali students from economically disadvantaged families. Our scholars are enrolled at the Galaxy School in Kathmandu. Contributors agree to sponsor a child with the intention of providing support throughout the tenure of the student at Galaxy School.

History of the scholarship program.
 Catherine Wood met 10-year-old Samip during her first trip to Nepal in 2000. A bright boy who liked ice cream, cauliflower, rabbits, and the color sky blue, he was nearing the end of his free public education and his future looked bleak. His family could not afford to pay for his education beyond Grade 6. Catherine was immensely taken with Samip and impressed with his curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. She sought a way to help him get a good education and the prospect for a better life.

Catherine set out to find a private school for Samip. She discovered that Galaxy School was the premier among all the private institutions in Kathmandu. Founded by Geeta Rana in 1986 with just nine students and two teachers, Galaxy School is now one of the largest and most prestigious schools in Kathmandu with about 4,000 students and 460 teachers and staff. Catherine visited the school, met with teachers, interviewed students, observed classes, and talked with Mrs Rana. It is Mrs Rana's educational philosophy, evident everywhere at Galaxy, that ultimately sold Catherine.

Here's what Mrs Rana had to say about education at her school:

"My aim is to provide an all around education in which children are prepared to face any crisis in life with moral dignity and to become useful and loyal citizens of the country. Galaxy seeks to prepare a student not merely to pass examinations or enter a profession, but also aims at creating a tolerant, balanced, independent individual with the right attitude of mind and spirit and a desire to help others. Galaxy School is dedicated to the principle that the future of humanity rests in the hands, hearts and minds of those who will accept responsibility for themselves and others in an increasingly diverse society. This principle of individual and social responsibility is realized in the context of a distinctive comprehensive experience which nurtures in our students the emergence and development of skill, perspectives and ethics necessary to better themselves and society."

"Oh, didi [big sister], my future is bright!" -- 10-year-old Samip, upon learning that he could go to Galaxy School. Catherine decided that Galaxy School would be the best place for Samip. She met with Samip's parents and offered to send their son to Galaxy School through Class 12. The family was thrilled, and so was Samip. As his first act of assuming responsibility for his own education, Samip signed a written "Moral Contract" with Catherine formalizing their expectations of one another. In return for Catherine's promise to pay for his education, Samip promised (1) to work hard to get good grades, (2) never in his life to beat a girl or a woman, and (3) when he has completed Grade 12, to do his very best to help a young Nepali girl get an education in the same way that he has been helped.

Samip enrolled in Grade 5 at Galaxy School in April of 2001. He did extremely well at Galaxy School, achieving excellent grades and test scores, and he passed the all-important nationwide School Leaving Certificate exam at the end of Grade 10 "with distinction," the highest honor. Throughout Samip's school years at Galaxy, the school provided Bright Futures Foundation with regular progress reports. Samip finished Grade 12 at Galaxy School, and went on to earn a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering -- magna cum laude -- from Air Link International College of Aviation in Manila. He returned to Nepal and has begun a career in his chosen field. Samip donated his first paycheck to Bright Futures Foundation!

Friends, family, and acquaintances learned about Catherine's novel approach to helping Samip and have chosen to help other children go to Galaxy School with scholarships through Bright Futures Foundation. At this time, there are 17 Bright Futures scholars. All of the students have signed contracts similar to Samip's, and all of the students write monthly emails to their sponsors. Galaxy School provides us with each student's progress reports. We monitor our students' achievements closely, and are very involved in their education.

How the scholarship program works. We have developed an application and screening process by which scholarship recipients are selected, including a set of definitive criteria by which a prospective scholar's application is evaluated. Our selection process also includes interviews with the child and family by our intern Keshav and one of our older students. We ask the principals of Shram Rastriya Public School in Kathmandu (Mr Nepal's school that you can read more about here) and Shree Saraswati Higher Secondary Public School (the school near Bhotechaur Health Clinic) to recommend candidates from their schools to be considered in the selection process.

It is important to us that Bright Futures scholars have the desire to get the best education possible and to remain in their own country. In that way, we hope to educate the future leaders of Nepal.

Keshav Thapa, our intern in Kathmandu, goes to Galaxy School every week to meet with our students. They all gather together to share their experiences and to write their monthly postcards and emails. The Bright Futures scholars have become close friends, helping one another with their studies and having fun. Keshav also meets periodically with Geeta Rana and the teaching staff at Galaxy. In that way, we are well able to track how our students are performing.
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