Education at NEEV is not just about acquiring a certificate. It is a more kaleidoscopic movement, that criss-crosses many groups, levels, dimensions and interests and as NEEV’s name suggests it is pioneering “New Education Visions”
Recently, I prepared a dossier for the Rural Kids Sponsorship Program, which I sent to the sponsors who joined our program this year. After preparing it I realized that this document captures some of the key and distinguishing features of NEEV School and the Sponsorship Program, so I am sharing the same with all our friends of NEEV.
Dossier for the NEEV School – Rural Kids Sponsorship Program
The Impact You Create Through the Sponsorship Program
Thank you so much for being part of the NEEV School Rural Kids Sponsorship Program. This also means that you are part of a much wider and profounder movement of evolution of consciousness.
For at the core of NEEV’s philosophy is the evolution of human consciousness through education, spirituality and social entrepreneurship. While we have different initiatives to address each function independently, it is the NEEV School which marries and blends all three aspects of education, spirituality and social entrepreneurship.
By sponsoring a child in NEEV School, you are not only causing an irreversible transformation in the life of an individual, who would have found it extremely difficult to get quality education otherwise; you are also causing a social transformation by spreading the light of education to marginalized sections of society. Today education has become a tool for unjust social stratification and class formation rather than being the great equalizer. Your sponsorship helps in shattering this artificial and obnoxious barrier society has created.
But the most profound impact you would create is something which is not at all immediately tangible. It is about evolution in consciousness. This is an impact at the level of the collective humanity. You may not have thought of this but for us at NEEV, this is the heart.
For humans are not just body, mind and intellect. They are also, and more fundamentally, imperishable soul and spirit. The purpose of true education is to make us aware of who we fundamentally are and what the purpose of humanity and life on Earth is. Unfortunately, these fundamental questions, which should form the basis of our living, have been clouded by a modern culture thickly veiling our higher consciousness and, involving it in a dark materialism instead of elevating it to the luminous heights of spirit.
At NEEV School we are undertaking this multidimensional and multifaceted journey, and a challenge, at several levels. The children in NEEV School are not only cultured through intellect, but also, and more importantly, through the soul. Your participation and support is indispensable for this journey, because you may have realized by now that this effort is not only individual – it is social and universal.
“Small is Beautiful” and “High Living and Simple Thinking” – The Working Philosophy of NEEV
In a nutshell, these two pithy statements capture the working philosophy of NEEV. We run a school in a very unpretentious building with threadbare furniture and the whitewash peeling from the walls. We are using the premises of a school which was deserted by the previous management and had taken up the school in its near death stage, when it had fifty children remaining. It is not that we are against a beautiful building with gleaming exteriors and classy furniture, but we have to make a decision between investing the precious little money we generate through fundraising, either in giving an opportunity of education to a rural kid, or to invest in infrastructure. Our wisdom dictates us to go with the former.
Today there are a little over 150 kids studying in NEEV School and about 15 teaching and non-teaching staff, with modest academic credentials. The fees for the general (unsponsored kids) are half the fees of other schools. At present we have about sixty students which are sponsored. Our teachers draw an average salary of Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 3,000 a month, so you may appreciate the conditions in which we work. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the school runs on the sense of mission and sacrifice in the hearts of teachers. This sense, in the modern world, is very difficult to create. However, NEEV has stumbled and struggled to foster a sense of mission and sacrifice in its teachers.
We are not interested in growing the school beyond a manageable limit and would like to give our complete attention and energy to a few children rather than operate a mass production “factory”. To run a small school for poor children is an oxymoron and a financial catastrophe. Only the government can manage something like this. Well, it should have done this, but sadly the state of elementary, junior and senior school education of government run schools is abysmal. So, it is for institutions like NEEV who shoulder the Herculean task of educating the poor. And NEEV manages this with the funds it receives from sponsors like you.
Being shorn of resources, working with absolutely minimum infrastructure, means a great deal of multitasking. So, unlike a plush NGO which has got separate staff for fundraising, documentation….etc, here I have to manage fundraising, correspondence with donors, data maintenance, administrative matters in school as well as taking classes every day (which means correcting copies, setting question papers, preparing Report Cards etc.) I felt a need to share this specifically with you because this dictates the way I manage the sponsorship scheme and, your experience with NEEV’s Rural Kids Sponsorship Program. I could have chosen to do things differently. One of the ways would be to raise large volume of funds from institutional donors. But I do not do this specifically for two reasons
1. I see my primary role as a teacher and educator, and as an educator I cannot create a change in consciousness if I am not personally in touch with the souls of children. I would not relinquish this soul contact with children for taking up the role of a manager, administrator or fundraiser. These roles are subsidiary and supportive to my main role as an educator. This is a very difficult challenge that I have self-imposed in line with the mission of NEEV.
2. I would not like to raise funds from institutions and organizations because organizations and institutions are impersonal and do not have a heart. Relationships between organizations lack the soul. All dealings are mired in considerations of money and selling power. They are bound, tied and moulded through paperwork, useless procedures and documentation, so much so, that almost all NGOs set up separate departments to handle paperwork. ( All these observations are from my personal experience)
3. The interactions between individuals who are friends, who know each other and who are inspired or motivated by a common reason are of a deeper, more lasting, profound and of a more transformative nature. All people who become part of NEEV are not “donor agencies” but friends, comrades, fellow travellers, inspired supporters or kindred souls fired by a mission. So at NEEV, we have stopped raising money from impersonal organizations. We raise money only from individuals who feel inspired by our vision and mission and have faith in our work.
Communication from NEEV related to your Sponsored Child
1. When you sponsor a child for the first time, we shall send you a very short bio-data and picture of a child. The bio-datas and pictures are usually prepared with the interns who come to work at NEEV from different parts of the world.
2. At the end of every academic year, we send you a report card of your sponsored child so that you may know of his academic progress
3. As soon as you become a sponsor we make you a member of NEEV Google groups through which we disseminate information about various activities taking place at NEEV School and other NEEV Ventures. It is a platform for not only disseminating news about activities but also philosophical musings that throw light on Integral Living principles. Through these you may be in touch with the pulse of NEEV and even share your own thoughts, comments and suggestions etc. with me.
Some Disclaimers Related to Your Sponsored Kid
1. Sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances, your sponsored child may leave school in the middle of the session or may be absent from school for a long duration. This is something which is to be expected with Rural Kids whose parents do not have a stable livelihood or even at times a stable family life. In such cases we intimate this to you and assign a new Rural Kid to you.
2. Since we do not follow a policy of selection and elimination in our school it is not necessary that your sponsored kid may be academically bright, or he may even perform under average levels. This may happen despite the enormous efforts of the school. Academic performance, especially for poor rural kids may get impaired due to a plethora of factors which the middle, upper middle and the rich class of the society are totally oblivious of. For instance our kids have to deal with drunken fathers, absence of enlightened and nurturing parents, continuous strain and disruption in family due to financial instability, no availability of resources and climate for study outside school etc. They also have to battle frequent health problems due to improper nutritional diet and adequate access to healthcare facilities. These result in frequent and sometimes long absences in school.
3. Under average academic performance however does not mean that education has gone waste. Education is actually a very broad term which we unwittingly tend to associate or equate with academic performance. In almost my two decades of being an educator I have seen so many children who were not good in academics but who turned out to be fine human beings and some who even became quite successful later in their lives. Even some of my own friends who are sponsors of Rural Kids today, were back benchers and poor academic performers in school.
4. Education is about character building, confidence building, empowerment and most of all a positive stimulus for the soul. At NEEV we do not give up till the last, with any child who simply makes his way to the doorstep of NEEV School. We keep the temple of learning open because we never know when the soul within gets ignited. This requires a great deal of patience in our teachers and a capacity to be extremely flexible with systems, policies..etc.
5. We request the same patience and flexibility from our Rural Kids Sponsors with their sponsored kids in terms of their academic performance. The Report Cards we send you are a true snapshot of the child’s performance, not cosmetically engineered to appeal to you. We believe that it is truth that prevails in the long run even if it is not comfortable or beautiful to look at.
Our Humble Expectations from You
1. That you continue the sponsorship for as long as it is convenient for you. The amount for the sponsorship is precious little compared to most of our incomes today and more so, the impact created by this amount of money is far greater than the mere economic value of the money. Once a child is admitted to school, it becomes NEEV’s responsibility to see through the entire (12 long years of education) of the child. If for some reason, you discontinue the scholarship it becomes incumbent on us to search for new donors. A steadiness from your side helps me spend more time with matters related to education rather than fund raising.
2. That poor academic performance of your sponsored child does not become a consideration for you to withdraw your sponsorship, for the reasons cited previously.
3. That you spread the vision and mission of NEEV amongst your interested friends and relatives so that we can grow the family of NEEV.
4. That you gradually get interested in NEEV’s mission and vision as a whole, which is Integral Living. This would happen if you regularly read the postings from NEEV Google Groups. This may motivate you to think of deeper and richer engagements with NEEV. Being a multifaceted and Integral organization, there are several ways in which you may think of contributing to NEEV apart from money. Such a relationship would be based on a shared passion for inner growth paired with a soulful contribution to the betterment of the world. I am just listing some of the possible alternatives of voluntary work with NEEV. But these are just some ideas. The sky is the limit
· Designing syllabus and curriculum for the school
· Fund raising through collaborating with friends or hosting charity events/dinners etc.
· Helping in Marketing of NEEV Herbal Products
· Spreading the Vision and Mission of NEEV through Social Media
· Suggesting interns to work with NEEV