Field Visits for Project ACE
Interaction with ACE scholars, at a personal level, was a felt need since the scholars were selected on the basis of records without conducting interviews in 2003-04. The Secretary undertook field visits spread over two months of January and February 2004; covering 44 of the 50 TANA Foundation sponsored ACE scholars. Government Junior Colleges (GJCs) where the students are studying and their homes were visited. A questionnaire was canvassed with scholars, parents, principals and lecturers to elicit information. The following observations are made:
- Over 40% scholars live in very remote areas and spend about 4 hours daily on travel to college.
- 90% are from rural areas. More than 50% of them are girls. Fathers of 15% of ACE scholars are no more.
- 25% of the fathers and 50% of the mothers are illiterate. Another 50% of fathers and 30% of mothers have elementary education. 65% of siblings of scholars have education only up to secondary level.
- Average family income is below Rs. 12,000 per annum. The scholars are spread all over the state.
- All sections of the population irrespective of caste, creed and community are represented.
- In government educational institutions contract lecturers were often appointed towards the end of September for a period of five months, in lieu of the full year.
- The teaching faculty of all institutions have appreciated the ACE program. Many teachers have volunteered to work for BREAD.
- For most of ACE scholars, the teacher is the role model.
- Awareness about the avenues open to ACE scholars for higher studies needs to be created, so that they could take educated decisions.
- To sum up, in view of the inherent talent that the ACE scholars are endowed with, continuation of their higher education,surmounting all difficulties, is the best way of poverty alleviation for their families.
Secretary visited homes of 64 BREAD Scholars during January – March 2007 to ascertain the economic background of scholars’ families. Please see Scholars’ Homes 2007 under downloads for more information.