Last March, Henry Wijaya received his acceptance letter for a master’s degree program at Columbia University’s Teachers College.As a 26-year-old from Salatiga, Central Java, with a heart for teaching, he was overjoyed, but he could not avoid the money problem: tuition plus the cost of living in Manhattan could total over $80,000. After months of fruitless searching for a scholarship or loan, he had to turn down the college’s offer.Henry is not alone in his plight. Many students who are qualified to receive high quality education are barred from doing so by the hefty price of education abroad.
In response, the Riady family has pledged $1 million to fund scholarships for students from Southeast Asia to study at Teachers College of Columbia University. The Riady Scholars Fund will provide support over 10 years for up to three master’s or doctoral students annually to study at the college.Teachers College of Columbia University is the oldest and largest graduate school of education in the United States. In last year’s US News & World Report’s annual rankings, the school ranked as the fourth-best education school in the nation. It offers 60 programs and about a third of its students are studying teacher education. Some of the school’s programs focus on teaching arts, music and philosophy.
The fund will provide full tuition plus room and board for qualified recipients, for an annual fellowship of $70,000 per year, per student. Once a student is selected, funding for the fellowship would renew for a second year based on the student’s program of study at the college.Recipients of the Riady Scholars Fund will be selected by the Teachers College’s admissions office and fully subject to its rigorous admissions process. The first awards will be made for the academic year beginning September 2012, and recruitment for scholarships will begin this fall.The college had about 65 applicants last year from Southeast Asia, primarily from Singapore, said Tom Rock, executive director of enrolment services.I think this gift will help us to attract even more applicants.
The Riady family has contributed to Teachers College’s annual fund, which manages the largest private education foundation in Southeast Asia covering nearly 40,000 students, and gave $1 million to the Columbia University Global Center in Beijing.Through the Pelita Harapan Education Foundation, the Riady family also funds thousands of local schools in Indonesia as well as Pelita Harapan Univeresity’s Teachers’ Training College.The foundation, which was established in 1992, plans to establish a total of 10 prestigious schools, 100 schools for students from middle-income families and 1,000 schools for lower-income students in the country.Education is the basis of nation-building. It can, through developing a nation’s human resources, improve the nation’s welfare, and this is how my family and I can contribute to that, said James T. Riady, CEO of Lippo Group and the Pelita Harapan Education Foundation.