School Vouchers for Girls is a school voucher project run by School Choice Campaign for girl children from the North East Delhi region.
The project targets girl children who have completed Class 1 in state run schools and provides them an opportunity to enroll in a school of their choice for subsequent years. The project is slated to fund the education expenses (up to Rs 3700 for the first year, and increasing by Rs 100 each year) of 400 girl children for four years, thus ensuring successful completion of primary education.
School Vouchers for Girls has chosen seven wards of North East Delhi – Welcome Colony, Chauhan Bangar, Zaffrabad, New Usmanpur, Maujpur, Janta Colony, Babarpur – for the voucher project. This region has a high concentration of minority and socially backward communities. In 2009, a survey of this region reported that there were 2583 girl students who had completed Class 1 in schools run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that in economically and socially disadvantaged families, the girl children are less likely to be educated. This project seeks to address this gender-based discrimination through the provision of school vouchers. By targeting a traditionally disadvantaged group – girl children from socio-economically disadvantaged families – this project hopes to demonstrate the empowerment potential of school vouchers.
The first phase of this project was the creation of awareness of school vouchers. With the help of ‘Social Action with Your Assistance’ (SAYA), parents of eligible children were informed about this project and encouraged to apply. Assistance with filling up applications was provided. All children applying for a school voucher were part of an aptitude assessment study, which will function as the baseline for learning achievements. The selection of successful voucher children was done using a randomized computer program on 21 July 2009 in the presence of local ward councilors and leaders. This program is similar to that of a ‘lottery’.
Once selected, parents shall choose a school for their children, based on the list of empanelled schools. After choosing the school, the parents may apply for admission to the school of their choice. At this juncture, parents are distributed vouchers for an agreed amount (eg., Rs 3700 for the first year). The vouchers will consist of four equal amounts, which the parents may use to pay school fees in a quarterly manner. School vouchers are securitized monetary instruments, which cannot be transferred or utilized for any other purpose than to pay fees at the chosen school and will not be accepted after the lapse of their validity period.
The School Choice Campaign strongly believes that quality education is possible only by ensuring accountability in our schools system. School Vouchers are one policy reform tool in the bouquet of School Choice ideas. By providing school vouchers, it is possible to offer choice of school to students. Parents are empowered to choose the best school for their child and, thereby, demand the best quality education. School Vouchers offer a more efficient and transparent method to deliver education. The Constitution of India has guaranteed every child, between 6 and 14 years of age, the right to education. However, School Vouchers are one way to provide the Right to Education of Choice for all children!
Details of voucher payment for the four years of this project are shown below:
|Voucher to be given in
|2009 - 2010
|2010 - 2011
|2011 - 2012
|2012 - 2013
(Wednesday 22 July 2009)
School Vouchers for Girls: Enabling 400 Girls to go to a school of their choice
The School Choice Campaign launched its second voucher project on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 at the Sri Ram Mandir Hall, Welcome, North East Delhi amidst parents, local ward councilors, principals and NGO representatives. The event also saw the awards ceremony of the 400 voucher beneficiaries (girls) of the project who will receive vouchers worth up to Rs 4000 per annum for the next 4 years, ensuring the completion of their primary education in a school of their choice. These girls are from poor families and studying in standard II of state run schools.
The occasion also saw a detailed counseling session for the parents who would be choosing a school for their children for the first time. For the first time in India, perhaps, School choice Campaign also gave a Hand Book to the parents which contained a comparison chart of the services and facilities provided by the schools in their neighborhood. The event, was truly unique in that it not only enabled poor parents to send their children to English medium private schools but also empowered them to exercise their choice in an informed manner by providing them with necessary knowledge.
The event was graced by the presence of local community leaders including Mr Divya Jaiswal (former Deputy Mayor Delhi), ward councilors Ms Uma Gangwar (Welcome Colony), Mr Vipin Kumar Sharma (Janta Colony) and Ms Bimla Sharma (Babarpur).
School Choice Campaign organised a Principal’s Forum on 3 February 2010 at the Jain Dharamshala, Shastri Park, North Delhi as the first in the series of a yearly meet with the principals of empanelled schools of the School Voucher for Girls pilot project.
The objective of the Principals Forum was to provide a platform for these principals to better understand the implementation process and payment transfer mechanism as well as to assist them with major issues in mainstreaming voucher children previously studying in government schools.
The event began with an introduction of all the principals followed by a brief session on the School Choice Campaign and the School Vouchers for Girls pilot by Dr Parth J Shah, President, Centre for Civil Society. Dr Shah then opened the floor for principals to highlight the difficulties the schools encountered in the implementation of the SVG project. Most of the principals used this opportunity to raise their concerns which varied from administrative issues like parents not providing the necessary documents for admission to low attendance of the voucher students. This was followed by a presentation by Mr Deval Seth, Head of Strategy, ACCOR Services, on the systematic steps of “voucher payments”. Ms. Janaki Rajan, Professor at Jamia Islami and former Director of SCERT conducted the last session on the importance of parents counseling and pertinent issues arising during the course of the project.