We have a four-pronged strategy for raising funds -
- support from house guests, direct in Rupees into our donation box;
- donations from UK via Esther Benjamins Trust in sterling, with Gift Aid added, direct into our State Bank of India FCRA bank account;
- from Indian commerce and industry and Indian friends (including Rotary - see below), by Rupee cheque into our State Bank of India Rupee bank accounts - one for running costs and one for building costs;
- and from the pupils themselves in a fees system graded on ability to pay, in rupees, into the Head Teacher’s cash box.
The longer term perception is that eventually the school will become self-sufficient, in that, say, after fifteen to twenty years, when children from most of the families have left and got decent jobs, almost all families will then be able to pay for their children’s education and, once we have proven ourselves and established a reputation, we shall be able to charge a more realistic monthly fee. Running costs will then, we hope, be covered by fee income and only development will need to be covered by outside donation. This is a heartening situation.
It is axiomatic that because our purpose is to educate every child in the village, should any refuse to pay Rs 100, we cannot turn them away. We have to be patient until our quality speaks for itself. The heart-warming thing is that they are all so keen to have education that none has even hinted at such resistance.
Initially, because it fell into place easily, we relied on UK Charitable Trusts and donations from guests passing through our Guest House at Tikli Bottom.
Now that we have Indian Charitable status tax alleviation under section 80G of the Indian Tax Law we are starting to tap corporate India for support, because it is they who will benefit from a better educated workforce. A new Trustee, Raghu Kanudia, is leading with some success in this direction, and six of our teachers are now funded by Indians. This is a great step forward. Patience is being rewarded.
With GoI "Right To Education Act 2009" promising all children from age 6 to 14 years of age a state funded free education, once registered (application in) we have hopes of getting some funding eventually from that source.
In greater detail, we have enjoyed the great good fortune of having had the chief trustees of two UK Charitable Trust passing through our guest house and who, on seeing the project at first hand, decided to support us. Four Acre Trust and Steel Charitable Trust between them gave us GBP 7,000 in the first year to support the running costs, and GBP 9,000 between them in the second year. This has been the backbone of our support. We had hoped that they would grow with us, but sadly Four Acre Trust said that their recent donation will be their last. This is a blow, with 290 children in hand and ten teachers to pay. We shall be forever grateful for their support at the critical launch phase.
Concerning student fees, families who have some land, or a family member in permanent employment, are asked to pay Rs250 (GBP 3) per child per month, and Rs 1000 for the uniforms and Rs 500 for books annually; interim families pay Rs 100 per month, while other poor families pay Rs10 per month, and uniforms and books are free. We (the teachers) have just completed a village social survey which will enable us better to judge how to pitch future fees.
Our usage of funds is divided simply into running costs and, building and equipping costs.
And it has emerged that Charitable Trusts prefer to give for running costs, while individuals have preferred to give for permanent structures or equipments; that was until we introduced the teachers’ sponsor scheme, which now has four contributors. This suits us admirably because of the more stringent accounting practices demanded by the Trusts, are easily satisfied when all payments are by cheque or bank standing order.
Offshore, our most notable benefactor has been Sir John Major, who is giving us five class-rooms (four now built) at a rate of GBP 3,000 per annum. Long may Sir john and cricket survive; they go so well together.
ROTARY’s Contribution - over the years Rotary has contributed enormously to our development programme.
Projects with which it has helped or covered in entirety are - - funding the boundary wall
- sinking the well to provide on-site water
- providing sanitary ware for the girl’s toilet
- jointly via a matching grant scheme with an Australian Club, initiated by the ever-helpful Thomlinsons who stayed with us at Tikli Bottom - providing USD 16,000 worth of Montessori equipment for the nursery school, provided by Kido Enterprises of Bangalore.
- a drinking water dispenser complete with cooler.
All of these have contributed enormously to the ease of management and the quality of life at the school. Rotary is doing a great job in supporting this village project, and we are most grateful to them. Long may they stay with us.
ANZA - Another major contributor is ANZA, the antipodean diplomatic club in Delhi - they have to date provided us with all of the school uniforms. They visit us regularly and having such on-going associations is invaluable to us. Many thanks ANZA.
Jo Williams - And finally, the bookish Jo William’s contribution must be acknowledged. She has provided the school with library books, which as children gradually become literate are getting used, and she introduced us to a Story Telling workshop, which Sheela and Patsy attended, and this had made an enormous difference to our approach to literacy. Well done Jo.
On June 27th, due to the magnificent efforts of Caroline Compston who did the work, and Nicholas Coates who provided the venue and champagne, we raised just short of GBP 20,000 at a party hosted by Sir John Major at the Traveller’s Club. Words simply cannot thank adequately those mentioned, for what they have done for B E T.