An overriding issue with all of BSI’s support in 2021 is the severe adjustments necessary to usual activities due to the COVID pandemic. Besides the drastic changes required to safely provide instruction, there have been severe declines in the ability of students’s families to pay their school fees. Funds continue to be necessary to run the schools and provide other educational services.
Mata Balak Utkarsha Pratishthan (MBUP)
BSI is supporting three initiatives with MBUP. The first, and most important, is supplement income for operating the Utkarsha Vidyala (UV) school. The school serves 900 students from K through high school with a high quality, multi-dimensional education. The BSI funds will help to offset the decline in student fees collected.
A second initiative is the program of teaching an organizational guidance for self help groups (SHG) in the taluka (local region surrounding Sangola). There are about 100 SHGs with over 2,000 women enrolled in it. By borrowing small sums from a pool of funds provided by the participants of each SHG, individuals are able to develop income producing, small scale, cottage businesses. MBUP staff goes to the villages to provide on-site education and ongoing oversight for establishing and operating the SHGs. These women gain financial independence and contribute to the well-being of their families.
Finally, the financial foundation for the long-term future of MBUP will be inaugurated in 2021. This is called the MBUP Corpus Fund (CF), which is an endowment pool. When sufficient funds are built up in the CF account, income will be generated for operating the MBUP Utkarsha Vidyala school. The target for the CF is Rs. 2 crores, or USD $300,000.
The CF will provide supplemental income for Utkarsha Vidyala school allowing less advantaged students to continue to be enrolled with fees adjusted or eliminated in proportion to their family’s situation. It is anticipated that it will require up to 5 years to raise the level of funds needed to start distributions. Initially all earnings will be retained to be invested in the account. BSI has agreed to “round upward” each locally donated Rs. 1,000 to make it become Rs. 10,000.
Jnana Prabodhini Harali (JPH)
BSI will be supporting JPH with operating funds for the coming school year. An attempt to partially reopen towards the end of the last school year, had to be cancelled because of another wave of COVID infections in the area. On the positive side, the remoteness and rural setting of the school reduces the pandemic risks.
BSI will be matching funds raised from other sources for each initiative. Besides salaries, materials and some additional, remote learning devices (e.g., tablets and hot spots) for the JPH students, some funds will go to support JPH’s outreach to other schools in the neighborhood.
The fees typically collected from JPH’s students are between 25-50% of the costs of running the school. Approximately 60% of the students pay less than full fees. The current, local economic conditions will significantly reduce income for the new school year. Without support from BSI and other, local donors, the financial situation would be dire and dangerous.
The stressful financial situation has not decreased JPH’s desire to care for its community. The current plan is to continue remote teaching and to implement a new program for the children of itinerant workers who cut sugar cane. The program would involve teachers going to locations, where the sugarcane workers live and work with children in small “pods.”