Education is the biggest aspiration of the poor. Despite lacking the means to consistently eat full meals, consume clean drinking water or use a toilet, India's poor prioritize their children's education. They often take high interest loans from the moneylender to send their children to private school as they view the government schools as insufficient. They perceive education as both the means and the ends to building a better life. Education does empower individuals to improve his/her own situation by putting them in a position to earn and provide for their family. Children are the future of any country, and for a country like India, this is especially true. Developing the education, awareness and talents of underprivileged children is the key to the progress of the entire nation.
Recognizing this need, Parinaam's strategic partner Ujjivan Financial Services Private Limited, provides an education loan, which covers its customers' children's education until the 12th standard. However, aware that the loans cannot match the high cost of education in decent private schools, Parinaam decided to go beyond that by refunding the customers' the interest paid on these loans through donor funding. The refunding of the interest is based on stringent criteria, for example upon the mother's loan repayment rate, the student's performance and the student's enrollment in next year's term.
Sadly, under the mistaken notion that we do this program to support Ujjivan's education loan, rather than the fact that we support the poor to manage their greatest aspiration (quality education for their kids), we struggle to find kindly donors to provide the funding for the Educational grant initiative. A grant that refunds the interest for one student ranges from Rs.400-700.
As a snapshot of the program's impact: The Educational grant initiative has turned out to be the one program that is most loved by the women, who are so grateful that someone is giving them money and not taking it away from them. We have often found ourselves teary eyed as they eagerly tell us what they will do with the windfall. In North Hubli when we returned the interest amount to Ujjivan customers, one women stood up in front of everyone and told us that her daughter was sent back home from school because she was unable to pay the nominal school fees. This mother was very grateful for the interest refunded and said that the first thing she was going to do was to use the money to pay the school so that her daughter could continue with her education.
To raise funds for this program, one of the things we have done is to approach schools in Bangalore. A kid in one of these schools very aptly said "Rs.700? That's just one meal at KFC for me." While it is true that for some of us Rs. 700 is just one meal at a fast food restaurant, for others it can mean sending a child back to school.
Since its start in mid 2010 until the beginning of 2012, over 4000 students had been helped through this initiative.
To sponsor students with educational grants Please click here