Delhi’s slum children to get Australian degrees

Delhi's slum children will now be able to study in Australia under an exchange programme between the University of Melbourne and voluntary organization Asha, officials said here on Tuesday. “This is going to be the first-of-its-kind Asha model as we focus on urban poor, mainly slum children, to give them access to higher education from a country other than India,” Asha founder Kiran Martin said. A new India-Australia partnership to support the needs of Delhi's urban poor will operate in three areas – research, education and community engagement. “This is going to be a unique programme in terms of catering to the needs of the urban poor, who can't even afford the basic education. We also aim at finding solutions to the needs of urban poor as we begin interacting with the students,” said Amitabh Mattoo, director of the University of Melbourne's Australia India Institute. The collaborative programme will fund 40 projects during 2011 across areas such as resource and environment, contemporary India, regional relationships, health, education, economics and business. “A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne, and Asha community health and development society has also been signed,” added Martin. The programme will be launched by Human Resource and Development Minister Kapil Sibal here on Wednesday.