"YES SHE CAN!" - Uttarakhand, India 2021
"YES SHE CAN!" - Uttarakhand, India 2021
Welcome to Pant Nagar, in the spectacular rural state of Uttarakhand! Here, the Montessori school* provides an encouraging learning environment for children from local communities, under the warm leadership of Headmistress Mrs Rajeshwari and her daughter Rashmi.
This non-government day-time school, with 11 classes from nursery to the 8th grade, receives little to no governmental help. Nonetheless, the school strives to improve its learning environment thanks to the staff’s resilience and motivation. Furthermore, the Montessori school sets itself apart from other institutions thanks to its commitment to promoting girls’ education, as shown by the monthly school fees: a boy’s family pays 600 rupees per month (approx. £6/month) whereas a girl’s family pays 300 rupees (approx. £3/month), if they cannot afford 600. However, school fees represent a substantial financial burden for the poorest families who in times of economic uncertainty often choose to withdraw their daughters from school. Here’s where we come in. We believe the school’s dual mission of helping poor students getting access to school and promoting girls’ education is perfectly in line with the aims of Passport for Education, in particular because we strive to tackle the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #5 for Gender Equality.
This is why we decided to support this school’s mission and provide bursaries for young girls in order for them to stay in school and pursue their education! The funds raised through this crowdfunding will complete or substitute the school fees of girls at Montessori School. They will thus be directly transferred to Montessori School, who will use them twofold:
- to invest in new class equipment;
- to raise the teachers’ salaries.
*The Montessori school does not follow the Montessori method of education, but the Indian National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) instead. In India, it is quite common to name schools, shops, etc. after a successful business or organisation, and this school in particular has no connection with the Montessori Association.
Equitable access to education for all children, all across the world, is one of the biggest and most significant challenges facing the international community today. Passport For Education was co-founded in 2017 by a high school graduate later joined by other young adults, friends, and students, all deeply committed to supporting children’s fundamental right to education.
Our missions fall broadly, but not exclusively, within: Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #4, Quality Education; SDG #5, Gender Equality; and SDG #10, Reduced Inequalities. The charity was started with the aim to create projects which are needs-based, centred around community engagement, and able to engender long-term change.
To fulfill our goals, PFE works towards three thoughtful missions, currently focusing on schools of rural and impoverished areas in Ladakh and Uttarakhand in India:
- Providing supplies and stationery to schools
- Granting bursaries to students with financial difficulties
- Improving educational infrastructures
In 2018, we teamed up with the Lotus Flower Trust (LFT) for our first project in Ladakh, a charity that funds the building of sustainable schools, homes, and skills centres for disadvantaged children and women in India.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, PFE delivered a range of stationery and school equipment in Ladakh, to provide children with appropriate educational tools. Our project enabled us to help 6 schools in Ladakh (stationery and educational tools delivered in person by PFE), and 3 in Uttarakhand (delivered by LFT), amounting to a total of 373 students.
As part of our goal to promote education in less-privileged communities, we began working with the Montessori school in Uttarakhand in the summer of 2020 in order to design a project tailored to the school’s needs and advance girls’ education in an Indian society that, to this day, mostly values men’s education.
For more information about our values, missions, and story, please visit our website at https://www.passportforeducation.org/en/about-us.
The Indian schooling system is one of the largest in the world with a steadily increasing budget since 2014. However, those big budget numbers hide the downward trend in the financing of schools which has come down from 4% in 2014-15 to 3% in 2019-20.
Deep-rooted problems of unequal access to quality education are still prevalent between urban and rural areas and between male and female students. The poor infrastructure and lack of sufficient schools and local transportation are key issues that reveal a wide gap between rural and urban education. Regarding gender disparity, the adult literacy rate was 82% for men versus 66% for women in 2018. Only 7% of 25-64-year-old women in India had a tertiary education degree in 2019, ranking India as 39th of the 46 OECD and partner countries. Nearly 40% of girls aged 15-18 are not attending school, while 30% of girls from the poorest families have never set foot in a classroom. The combination of poverty, gender inequality, and the lack of concern from the state government in providing quality education means that girls in rural areas are in urgent need of help to benefit from their right to education.
Simply put, the vision behind this project is to allow girls from all backgrounds to have an equal opportunity of obtaining as complete an education as boys. Unfortunately, to this day, many view girls’ education in India as less of a priority when compared to the education of boys. Data from the school shows approximately ¾ of recent dropouts to be female. The best way to address the enrolment of girls is by offsetting the burden of school fees upon parents.
Many parents of children at the school have indicated that their inability to afford the full fee of 600 rupees per month is the main reason why they have decided, or are planning to, to take their girls out of education. PFE’s ‘YES SHE CAN’ project aims to match up to 600 rupees of the monthly school fees for girls who would otherwise be taken out of school, thereby addressing the financial barrier to quality education and facilitating these girls’ access to education by covering the difference between what parents can currently afford and the full fee. If we manage to exceed our crowdfunding target, we also plan on covering a part of what some families might already be paying, on top of matching up the fees to 600.
E.g. if a family pays 100 rupees monthly, our goal is to match up to 600 (therefore funding 500 rupees), and if we can, cover a part or the entire 100 already paid by the parents. By overcoming this practical barrier, we hope to halt drop-outs and achieve a sustained increase in female enrolment at the Montessori School. We will also contribute to the school’s finances which will directly benefit from the increased inflow of cash received from the matched-up school fees, enabling salary increases for the Montessori staff who have had to take salary cuts to allow for as much flexibility on fees as possible, demonstrating once again their dedication to this school.
As target beneficiaries of the project, the approximately 100 girls at school, especially those from more disadvantaged economic backgrounds, will be the most actively engaged by YES SHE CAN. We hope this will lead to more female empowerment in the long term, and serve as a basis for widespread consensus that each child’s education is equally important.
The project also hopes to directly engage parents who are unsure about sending their girls to school in order to understand the limitations they face and how we can best aid them in overcoming these. Our aim is to transform this project into a regular one and expand our collaboration with the Montessori school: we hope to be able to set up an annual bursaries system to follow the students that we are helping this year, and offer grants to even more students, depending on the school’s needs.
What is social impact evaluation?
It is a process of assessing how much social change happened that can be attributed to the intervention of an organisation. Impact evaluation is by nature an ongoing process that aims to understand community outcomes by putting their voice at the forefront of the organisation’s drive for further improvement to the intervention strategies.
How are we evaluating our impact for this project?
To ensure our evaluation strategies incorporate the full picture of our impact from broad statistical overview to more individual-specific perspectives, PFE’s Research and Data Team assesses, on one hand, the changes in statistics including dropout rates, gender parity indices, student enrollment, and attendance, and on the other hand the changes in the community’s perception of improvement through tailored satisfaction surveys for students and teachers. These impact measurements are collected over the period of several years post-intervention to best monitor the real long-lasting impact on the students and their community. Frequent and transparent communications with the school are thus at the heart of our impact evaluation strategy.
Allocation of funds
All the funds collected will be distributed to the Montessori School, to complete or substitute 104 girls’ school fees for 9 months. They will help the school invest in class equipment and increase the teachers’ salaries.
PFE does not take a percentage on the crowdfunding funds. Kiss Kiss Bank Bank takes an 8% commission on the proceeds of the crowdfunding. PFE is committed to match the amount of Kiss Kiss Bank Bank’s commission with its own funds. Donations to India are subject to the Indian FCRA Regulations (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act). Accordingly, a small amount of the budget will be allocated to compliance with the Regulations.
PFE is attached to transparency. Hence, reports will be communicated post-project detailing the use of the funds and their impact on the school.
Because your donation matters, it can be deducted from your taxes! To learn more about tax relief eligibility and details, we invite you to click on the link below: https://www.passportforeducation.org/en/faq.
You may have heard other charities repeat the saying that “even small donations can make a difference”. Well, it’s absolutely true!
To give you an order of magnitude, 1 rupee is equal to 0.010 pound. The monthly school fees for girls are 300 rupees, which equals 3 pounds (3.5 euros) ! Therefore, by donating even a small sum of money which you would usually spend on your morning coffee, you can give a girl the opportunity to study for a whole month in the Montessori school. EVERY DONATION MATTERS!
Numbers are always interesting to look at, but at PFE we are committed to placing the individuals we’re helping at the centre of our projects. Charity work is much more than sums on papers, it’s about bonding with people and creating a relationship of trust in order to design programmes that are tailored to the communities’ needs. To this end, we are truly delighted to share with you these short portraits of girls attending the Montessori school. You’ll be surprised how getting to know someone, their interests, and their hobbies, makes you feel connected to them despite the many thousands of kilometers that separate you from them.