Topden at Primary School
Topden came to Sikkim Himalayan Academy in 2008. He was a friendly and affectionate boy.
Academically he shone from the start, and eventually passed an exam to enter the Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS) in Tashiding, West Sikkim. EMRS are government funded. They started in the year 1997-98 to impart quality education to tribal children in remote areas, and unlike other state schools pay for accommodation. There are four such schools in Sikkim.
Topden at Secondary School
In 2018 Topden contacted us to help him with his dream of becoming a doctor. He was then in his final year of secondary education. To study medicine, he had to pass the NEET (National Eligibility Test) at the end of this last school year.
He was studying sciences with a view to passing his Year 12 exams in March/April, then taking the NEET in May 2019. The NEET-UG is an entrance examination for students who wish to study graduate medicine or dentistry in India . Successful candidates are funded by the government. The NEET is extremely competitive – in 2018 there were more than 1.3 million applicants. So it is very difficult to get a place on the national list, but Sikkim also has 8 state medical course places awarded based on the results of the NEET.
We supported him by paying for accommodation costs while attending a preparation course for the NEET in Gangtok.
Topden at University
Topden did very well in the NEET but came 21st on the Sikkim list, so did not qualify for free medical school. However he did qualify for a program of counselling. Finally his counsellor suggested various options, one of which was taking a degree course in Optometry. This is not free but it is subsidised, and it is a three year course instead of the longer medical qualification. We agreed to fund this.
So in August 2019, Topden started at Uttaranchal (P.G.) College of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital in Dehradun, Uttarakand state – known as UCBMSH. Uttarakand state is north of Delhi in the foothills of the Himalaya. In that respect it is similar to Sikkim, but the culture is quite different and Topden is 1000 km from home.
The Covid-19 pandemic has provided many challenges, but Topden has remained in Dehradun, even when the college has been closed and giving online courses only. He seems to be doing very well, and we are supporting him as best we can.