FIAPS: Enlisting recent graduates to professionalize a new breed of schools in India
Oglethorpe University graduate Ember Melcher recently left for Hyderabad, India on a new fellowship program designed to support the development of private schools in India. But these private schools only serve the poor. As one of the inaugural FIAPS – or Fellows for India’s Affordable Private Schools – Melcher, an economics major, will spend nine months improving the management of one affordable school. Typically, these schools charge approximately $5 a month. They are believed to offer higher quality education than most public schools.
The fellowship program builds on the work of Gray Matters Capital (GMC), a foundation established by entrepreneur Bob Pattillo. GMC has helped affordable private schools gain access to working capital since 2008. Now, with FIAPS, the foundation is looking to further strengthen these schools.
The program, a partnership between GMC and Oglethorpe University, gives young professionals the opportunity to work alongside local school entrepreneurs. They will be placed in schools in Hyderabad based on GMC’s evaluations of the school’s financial management, student academic achievement and teacher performance. The fellows are in demand: 30 schools applied for the first 10 fellows, who will develop and implement marketing, accounting and performance evaluation plans as well as improve strategic planning and management processes.
GMC hopes to have evaluated 10 times as many schools by this time next year and to support 50 to 100 FIAPS in 2011.
For Melcher, the adventure is just beginning. She’s particularly excited about becoming friends with her co-FIAPS. “These are relationships I am really looking forward to,” she said.
Photo: Oglethorpe University