The Himalayan Trust New Zealand administers approximately 140 scholarships for 16+ years students in Solukhumbu, the upper and lower Everest Districts in Nepal. These range from Intermediate (16-18 years), Bachelor and Masters degrees. Boys have to gain 1st Division pass at School Leaving Certificate (SLC) in order to apply and girls can apply with 1st, 2nd or 3rd Division passes at SLC. The percentage of girls gaining scholarships is only just below that of boys.
George Lowe CNZM, OBE, was part of the 1953 team which made the first ascent of Mt. Everest. With Alf Gregory and Sherpa Ang Nyima, he put in the top camp (No 9) at 27,900 feet. Sir Edmund Hillary set up the NZ Trust in 1960 to build the first schools and health facilities in the area. When UK trekkers began to visit the area in the 1980’s, many wished to donate towards the work. George Lowe and friends set up The Himalayan Trust UK in 1989 to receive donations and George was the first Chairman.
Over the years it became apparent that Nepalese students devoured the new chances for education. Two great needs emerged. Firstly the teachers needed training, this has been the main focus of the HTUK both in Solukhumbu and in Taplejung District, since the Nepal Education Ministry can only train a percentage of its teaching force. Secondly, means had to be found to extend the post 16 years education for the very brightest students, of whom there are many. In providing scholarships it is important to provide the opportunities which the country needs from its brightest and best, linking this to current and future needs.
Approximately 34% of scholarships are awarded in Upper Solukhmbu and 66% in Lower Solukhumbu, representing the spread of school populations.
Subjectwise, from the larger percentages, courses are offered in; Science, Education, Management, Nursing, MBBS, Electrical, BBA/MBA, Hotel Management, Health Assistant, Humanities, IT (Computer), Travel and Tourism, Assistant Nurse Midwife, CDS/BDS (Dentistry).
Recently 72 former scholars attended a conference run by NZHT. All of these graduates are working in Nepal in a range of impressive jobs, with 24 working in medicine and dentistry, and 2 with Doctorate degrees.
Students from very poor homes would have received full scholarships, those from more affluent homes would have had a parental contribution. Following the death of Sir Edmund Hillary in 2008, seven extra scholarships were set up.
The George Lowe Memorial Scholarships are specifically for one boy and one girl for Class 11 and Class 12 from Bung School, which is a remote school where the village is spread over 7,000 feet of steep terraced hillsides. These GL Scholarships are funded by George’s family. A specific staff member at the office of the Nepal Himalayan Trust deals with the administration and meets all scholars on a regular basis.
(Funding contributors – NHT/NZ: HTUK (Lowe family): American Himalayan Foundation: The Great Himalayan Foundation: Larry Witherbee (USA); Benoit Chamoux Foundation (France); SEHF (Canada); SEH Stiftung (Germany).
Voices of Scholarship students;
Shekhar Karki, studying science in class 12; As I was District topper of Solukhumbu District in SLC, my name was at the top of scholarship list. My college fee was very high. I pay around 3000Rs per month tuition with extra charges for lab fee etc. I used all my scholarship from American Himalayan Foundation to fulfil my basic needs. This scholarship has supported me as well as other students like me who are from a weak socio-economic and remote area like Solukhumbu. It would not be an exaggeration in saying that this scholarship has been the pillar of my educational upbringing so far.
My name is Yubaraj Katel, working as a Director in Dept. of Civil Registration under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development. Because of my schooling in an excluded and inaccessible village of Solukhumbu, my focus in service career has always been destined to far-flung areas where people are in abject poverty and deprived from the basic services of the state. I am one from among many students getting financial assistance from Himalayan Trust. Many students’ destinies of life might have been changed with the help of Trust.