The Sharana Back-to-School Sponsorship Program houses two sponsorship models: individual sponsorship that sponsors individual children’s education, and collective that financially supports entire communities. These programs have been running since Sharana was established in 2000.
The individual sponsorship model supports children who are either already school dropouts or unlikely to continue their education due to alcoholism in the family or very difficult financial circumstances. Social workers carefully evaluate each beneficiary’s case, making several visits to their homes to ascertain the nature and extent of the difficulties involved, and to motivate both parents/guardians and children to do what it takes to resume formal education. Identified children typically come from communities with a very low socio-economic status.
Sponsored children receive:
• Regular counselling;
• notebook, uniforms, and other required scholastic material;
• tuition fee support;
• tuitions and help with homework via the Homework help centre;
• medical attention as needed and routine medical checks;
• regular check-ins and assessments from the program’s dedicated social workers.
• Access to taking part in the annual summer camps
• Access to weekly events/sessions at Sharana, where several activities such as art therapy, awareness sessions through sports and games etc are held.
Many of the families of the program are from the fisherman communities North of Pondicherry near the Coast, such as Vazhaikullam, Vaithikuppam, Kuruchikuppam, Solainagar and others.
Individual Sponsorship Program’s primary objectives are:
• The primary aim is to send the child to school with support but always keeping in mind that the eventual aim is to withdraw as and when deemed appropriate the dependency on material support and eventually counsel and guide parents well enough so that they become the primary care and material providers of their children.
• To support the children during the time of an emergency or sudden alteration of their familial circumstances, such as the death or abandonment of parents, lack of physical security, a fire accident in which family members are hurt or the home is destroyed, or other exigent circumstances.
• To provide the children with psycho-social care for their well-being
• To give value-added activities such as art therapy and awareness through sports and games to help the overall growth and development of the child
It may be noted that some of the children covered in the back to school programmes come from back grounds even more precarious that living in streets and slums such as graveyards, open grounds and traffic signals.
The Collective Sponsorship Model pools funds to financially support the education of select groups or/and an entire community of children. Sharana identifies communities or villages where the majority of the young inhabitants are not at school and so the families need external support to educate their children.
The village of Angalakuppam comes under the Collective Sponsorship Program, run by Sharana since 2000. It ensures that all the children in the community (100%), after having completed the Crèche, continue their education till the 10th/12th standard (Baccalaureate) and do not drop-out of school. The children, most often first-generation school-goers, receive professional support (material, social and emotional) during their schooling period.
In the case of Aranganur Government Primary School, all the children of the school come under the Collective Sponsorship program. A total of about 250 children are under the Collective Sponsorship program from both the villages.
The Collective Sponsorship Program supplies the following items for eligible children:
• School supplies: notebooks, school uniforms and other supplies provided as and when mandated and possible
• Counselling from social workers if needed and educational guidance as to which course/college to choose.
• Workshop and different awareness programs in the schools with special organisations (such as Azim Premji Foundation and International Volunteers).
• Medical check-up once a year
• Value-adding activities like art therapy, awareness through sports and games, wall-painting sessions
The main program objectives are:
• To reintegrate school drop-outs and children from vulnerable rural and socio-economic backgrounds into mainstream schools.
• To work as needed with families, schools and local communities to ensure rights to education and reduce the number of school drop-outs.
The philosophy behind the Collective Sponsorship falls to a large extent in line with the philosophy of the organisation wherein Sharana makes detailed plans of aims and objectives and money drawn out of a collective fund helps achieve the plans.
The cost of quality college education is rapidly increasing in India beyond the means of many families, despite the support and allowances provided by the government. In response to the growing number of requests from socio-economically disadvantaged children therefore, Sharana’s Higher Education Initiative aims at enabling students to pursue a college education and, in so doing, guarantee a complete education and marketable skills for future job opportunities.
The beneficiaries of this program are children who would otherwise cease their education at the 12th standard level, without further financial assistance. The higher education program shares the cost of college studies with the parents and families of the children; it is a joint investment in each eligible young adult’s professional future.
The Higher Education Program’s main objectives are:
• Today many students do receive financial support but our aims in to gradually reduce and eventually withdraw the supplementary financial aid to candidates enrolled in private institutions.
• To offer them educational support and career advice until they become economically and socially independent adults.
• To offer then psychological support during these formative years of adulthood
Sharana has been organising summer activities for unprivileged children for the past 17 years with the main aim to organize educational and entertaining activities for children during their school holidays.
For our children in Angalakuppam we organise day long activities for the children along with a snack and lunch. The rest of back to school children will avail of the same in their respective centres.