At the onset of each year, the PEF selects a batch of students deemed suitable to receive funds to improve their level of education. In 2008, to get the ball rolling, we advertised in local Sri Lankan newspapers. Thousands of applications flowed through the office door and so begun the preliminary selection of children who were living in poverty and whose parents were unable to support them through school. The team in the Sri Lankan office gets involved in short-listing the children who are most suited to obtaining the fund.
In 2008 the application forms for the preliminary selection of children were sent to school principals from the districts of Monaragala and Nuwara Eliya – two of the most poverty stricken districts in Sri Lanka, to nearly 2800 schools. The school principals passed on the applications to the children deemed most suitable to receive the education grant. Subsequently, all the applications were assessed and certain criteria had to be fulfilled in order for the children to be ‘shortlisted’
- Marks obtained in the nationwide Scholarship Exam.
- Academic position (1st, 2nd or 3rd) in the school and in the home district.
- Things which suggest that the family is considered as low-income (i.e. the children are exempt from school fees).
- Level of income of the family.
- No. of siblings.
- Extra curricular activities of the student.
- How far away the school is from the home of the child (if the child is having difficulties getting to and from school).
- If the student is disabled.
- If the student is displaced by ethnic conflict (this is relevant if the student is selected from the war-torn areas).
- If he/she lives in a very rural and remote area, and has no access to facilities.
- Father or mother died/left/disabled.
- Father or mother ill/partially disabled.
- Condition of shelter / housing.
- Entitlement to the governments scholarship aid (a one-off amount of 500 rupees if the student has come first, second or third in his/her district).
The selection criteria were based on the marks the students received for the Grade 5 Scholarship Examination* and based on an assessment of the familys financial situation. When Proporta set up the charity, we decided to support children who demonstrated skills and potential as we take the view that these are the young people who will live to be the future of Sri Lankan society.
The staff in the Sri Lanka office personally paid unannounced visits to the short-listed students at their schools and in their homes to verify the details given in the application forms. They spoke to the parents and to the children to find out what kind of difficulties the children and the families were facing in relation to the education. The obstacles are many and varied so we review each case according to its own context.
We are constantly reviewing the process by which we select the students which means that changes are likely to happen in the near future. We will continue to keep you updated on the PEFs and on the students progress on this website.
*The Scholarship Examination also known as the Grade 5 exam is a highly competitive Sri Lankan examination conducted by the Department of Examinations of the Ministry of Education. It is optional for students to undertake it during the final year of primary school Grade 5, usually ages 9-10. Based on the results of the exam, students could transfer to prominent national schools. The exams are held in three mediums: Sinhala, Tamil and English.
(Source – http://www.museumstuff.com/learn/topics/Grade_5_Scholarship_Examination )
Visit to Monaragala and Nuwara Eliya, June/July 2009
As part of the selection process, some of the Sri Lankan staff visited the districts of Monaragala and Nuwara Eliya to personally meet the families of the children and to verify the details given, to ensure that the most suitable children were selected. Public transport was used to reach these areas as the company wanted to minimise overhead costs. Below are a few pictures taken during the visits to Monaragala and Nuwara Eliya.
Visit to Uva Province , November 2010
In November 2010, Proporta went on a field trip to Uva Province to visit six students at three different schools as part of an evaluation of the PEF. Proporta was accompanied by an anthropologist who carried out interviews of students, teachers, parents and others directly involved with the charity. The visits were unannounced and Proporta visited the schools as well as the childrens homes.
This gave Proporta a chance to hear what the parents had to say about the PEF, what the students had to say, as well as the teachers and the headmasters. It was an opportunity for us to listen to feedback from those who are affected by the PEF on a daily basis.The fieldtrip showed us six children and their families who are clearly benefitting from the PEF grant in very different circumstances. Some are using the grant for extra-curricular activities (for example to improve their English with extra tuition after school), some are using it to cover the cost of books, paper and pens for school, while others are saving up for their O’ Level Exams.
The evaluation was an important aspect of the work we do in Sri Lanka and it has shown us that the PEF is run in a practical and highly efficient way. It has given us a chance to look at ways in which we might be able to take on more students in the future, as well as suggesting a number of improvements to the running of the PEF including the student application process.
We came away from the trip with an enormous sense of privelege at being able to help people in such simple and practical ways as well as with a firm belief that the PEF is doing exactly what we had hoped – giving a little help exactly where it is needed most.
PEF Ampara district – 2011 Scholarship students
Its January 2012 when we decided to have the PEF student selection for the year 2010 scholarship batch, after discussion with the committee we fixed our eyes on Ampara District, a district that was badly effected in 2006 Tsunami and suffered with war.
We received more than 300 applications. After carefully assessing day and night our team of volunteers managed to filter it and short list 40 students to visit.
In early February a team of 4 set off at dawn to Addalachanai in Ampara. They traveled by train from Addalachanai, a team of two went visiting – the whole weekend the team tirelessly visited the students and gathered all information to select those 19 eligible kids.
It was by luck that the team found a very helpful tuk tuk driver named Riyaz, who took the team all around and even gave and helped gather information about the students. He was also a great help in organizing the inauguration in the same area 🙂 – this man again proved that selfless deeds still exist in this world.
The team managed to select 19 eligible students from the information gathered and set aside a date for the 25th of February 2012. A team of 6 traveled to Addalachanai early morning with all the gift hampers which had a year of school supplies. When the team reached the destination almost everything was setup for the inauguration by the help of the kind tuk tuk driver Riyaz.
The students and their parents were overwhelmed and apparently few of them were spotted with tears – it was a well worthy cause. The inauguration ended up successfully and PEF yet again took 19 more kids under its wings, and is getting ready for the next batch in order to achieve its goal.
PEF Ratnapura district 2012 Scholarship students
Ratnapura AKA the land of gems, in Sri Lanka was chosen to seek eligible students to give away our 2011 scholarships. As the initial step we sent letters to the schools in July, in August we short listed a list of 40 students from 185 applications we received.
As scheduled we set off to visit the students by bikes :). Four teams went to check on the actual conditions of the students in order to identify the most eligible candidates to receive this very important scholarship. It was not at all an easy task to ride a 110 something KM traveling by Bikes and find the addresses, yet it was a well worth effort to discover the eligible students to give them a chance to build up their life.
The riders spent their weekend checking up on the students and the team sat to select the most eligible 20 students off the 40 that were visited.
Finally 20 students were selected and a date was set aside for their inauguration. The team called in all students and informed them to be present at the Proporta SL office premises on the 11th of November 2012 at 9.30 AM.
The whole staff body of Proporta SL were present and were busy organizing the inauguration. Sorting student registration, meal and the gift packs for students which included a year worth school supplies for them.
Students started coming to the premises as early as 8.00 in the morning with their parents/ guardians and they were very excited and eager to be at the ceremony. As scheduled the ceremony started at 9.30, there were speakers from the volunteer committee who spoke and emphasized on the motive of PEF and its value. Students and a couple of parents spoke about how happy and fortunate they feel to be chosen and supported by PEF. It was a day filled with loads of excitement, happiness and mixed feelings.
It was a tiring and a busy day for the staff of Proporta SL but it left them all with a great feeling of satisfaction to be able to take part in this event and it was well worth the effort.