Students from Northeast India face a distinct set of access barriers to higher education, not least because the region is heavily militarised and witnesses political volatility and human rights violations. Although the literacy rate of the region is relatively high, the number of students aspiring to take higher education is much lower compared to the rest of India (Maisuangdibou 2020). In the age group of 22-35 years, only 8% of men and 4% of women from Northeast India have access to higher education (US-India Policy Institute NSSO Survey 2007-08).
Due to instability in the region as well as the racism and discrimination that students from Northeast India and the Eastern Himalayan region (Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Dooars) face in mainland India, such students find it difficult to access inclusive higher education in India and in turn are unable to make applications for postgraduate studies abroad. Their access to resources and networks within university spaces, particularly those required for holistic professional and personal development, is severely hindered.
Recognising these problems, we have been providing Northeast Indian learners customised mentorship support for all aspects of university and scholarship applications for higher education. Under our 2022-23 Mentorship Programme, as of May 2023, 19 mentees from Northeast India and the Eastern Himalayas received admission offers from universities abroad. One of the mentees received the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Graduate Scholarship, while another received the University of Exeter’s Global Excellence Scholarship.
Encouraged by the success of our mentoring model, we have decided to continue supporting learners from Northeast India and the Eastern Himalayan region (Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Dooars) with their graduate applications through our India Graduate Mentorship Programme 2023-24. Moreover, we will work towards helping them avail more opportunities for professional and personal development, such as through internships, research assistantships and leadership programmes.