Ashish Dhawan: Bringing quality education to underprivileged kids



(April 17, 2023) In 2012, Ashish Dhawan, quit his job and a two-decade-long career as a private equity investor, turning to philanthropy instead, setting up the Central Square Foundation to enhance education standards for underprivileged children. Two years later, he became the co-founder of Ashoka University. Dhawan explained that he made a conscious decision to opt for philanthropy rather than impact investing for CSF, as he wanted to maintain the purity of the initiative. So far, the Global Indian has pledged 50 crore from his personal funds to support the organisation.

“My time at Yale University in the US made me realize how different the higher education system was in the US, as compared to India. In India, we have been following the British system, which is quite restrictive and does not offer a broad perspective. On the other hand, my experience at Yale was all about developing a passion for learning and honing critical thinking, writing, and communication skills. I felt that this was the missing link in higher education in India. Thus our decision to establish Ashoka University and CSF was nothing short of a dream come true.” the co-founder reminisced.

Ashish Dhawan | Global Indian

India is home to the largest school system in the world, with over 250 million children in the K-12 system. This is CSF’s focus, and the organisation works to provide universal access to primary and secondary education. According to Dhawan, is there’s a lot of learning around what actually works in education as it’s very complex to understand what is suited for the Indian classroom, as mere copying another country’s education curriculum does not work in India anymore. “I feel like my philanthropic work or life’s work is about building institutions in a foundation or non-profit like Central Square Foundation which works in school education,” Dhawan told Forbes.

“The prime objective of the foundation is to ensure quality school education for all children of India. I see Central Square Foundation playing a critical role in helping us achieve universal quality education, help in decreasing the drop-out rates and increase the gross enrolment ratio of girls or women, which are the precondition of lifting a significant percentage of our population out of poverty, get jobs and lead better lives,” said Ashish.



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