Kusuma Young Researchers Award

Skilling up students to do educational research

“When we’re tackling important social issues, we need to base our work on solid, independent research,” says Soma, Kusuma Trust’s Executive Trustee. “Until recently, there have been limited studies conducted and published about the quality of education in India. But this evidence is essential – not only to the programmes we fund, but also to ensure our work has the widest possible impact.”

In 2009, Kusuma Young Researchers Award was set up to recognise the research of young professionals. It focused specifically on papers covering education and vulnerable children. For example, the 2009 award went to Dr. K. Arockia Maraichelvi who wrote a paper on ‘Facilitating the Subsistence of Street Children Through Life Enrichment Education.”

In 2013, we reimagined the programme. This second phase included training and mentoring for young professional in NGOs and colleges to develop their research skills. “The aim was to give them the opportunity to conduct research on education issues of national importance and that fit with Kusuma’s strategic priority of access to opportunity,” says Soma.

  • Kusuma Young Researchers Award was set up in 2009 and gave a cash prize for the most effective research. In 2013, the programme trained young professionals working for NGOs and colleges in research skills.
  • The five Fellows selected in 2013 were a secondary school teacher, two MPhil research graduates, a PhD student and a statistician.
  • Research topics were chosen to help improve secondary and higher education, and educational policy.

Mentoring, training and help to publish

Five Fellows were chosen to define an area of research relevant to secondary and higher education and employment opportunities in the States of Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. They each received comprehensive mentoring and training in research methodologies to complete their research.

Research topics included:

  • Absenteeism among girls in Grade 9 in Hardoi
  • Access to educational loans
  • Teaching and learning English in a multilingual context
  • Employability of graduate and postgraduate students.


Kusuma Young Researchers Award was set up by Kusuma Foundation and later worked in partnership with the International Institute for Population Sciences in Mumbai (IIPS). IIPS is the hub of population and health-related teaching and research in India, playing a vital role for planning and development of the country.

Mentors from the Institute guided Fellows in writing the papers and helped them to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals. In September 2014, Fellows presented their research findings to peers, faculty members and Kusuma Foundation staff.

“Fellows successfully completed research projects on a wide range of topics relevant to the work of Kusuma and the education system in India. Fellows said that the scheme helped them to understand how to use research evidence to tackle important social issues.”
Dr Christine Oliver, Head of Research, Kusuma Trust UK

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