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How adopting technology in its working helped Smile for All become one of the most transparent NGOs ever
June 27: India runs the most extensive free education program for children under 14. India has also implemented a right to education act for underprivileged children to enjoy inclusivity and study in a private school.
Yet, according to the union education minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, approx. Fifteen crore children were out of school as of 2021. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/15-cr-children-out-of-school-atpresent-union-education-minister/articleshow/85268637.cms
For a long time, NGOs have been frowned upon for lacking transparency in the utilisation of their funds. One of the reasons most NGOs have only been able to do a little good is that there is limited public participation from those outside the NGO's Ecosystem. Keeping this in mind, We keep transparency and accountability at the centre of everything we do at SFA. SFA is running a public participation program trademarked "Happiness Subscription", where donors take the onus of becoming mentors to a child living in a makeshift home, which happens in a transparent and accountable environment.
Patrons bear a subsidised fee for educating the child in a private school. SFA adopted the world-famous Netflix subscription model and redesigned it to facilitate communication between the Patrons, Parents, the schools and the children and ensure trust and accountability among all parties pivotal for continuous and quality education of the children.
Now, What makes SFA's "Happiness Subscription" so transparent is the personalised dashboard, which allows each donor to:
1. Track the child's monthly progress and attendance in the school,
2. Fetch the receipts of the payment to the participant school,
3. Get in touch with the child, parents and teachers in a supervised environment.
People can visit SFA's website and register as a contributor; they can scroll through a list of children awaiting sponsorship and log in to their account to follow the child's progress.
Behind the scene is a massive team of 6000 SFA volunteers making it all happen. Carrying out awareness drives, Conducting evening classes in Slums and remote areas, Convincing parents, Doing family interventions, Identifying children in need, And Keeping a constant eye on children's progress, are some of the responsibilities carried out by SFA volunteers.
Starting in 2019, from Chitransh Public School, Jaipur, with just 42 children, SFA has enrolled more than 1700 children into private schools as part of its Happiness Subscription program.
More than 125 schools from 12 states in India, including Rajasthan, Bihar, J&K, Jharkhand, Punjab, Haryana, and West Bengal, have joined the cause and enrolled more than their share of RTE admissions to accommodate as many children as possible.
Currently, 700 Happiness patrons are mentoring 883 children using the SFA platform, and SFA bears the school fee on its own for the rest of the children. This is nothing compared to the number of children in need of intervention, and only with support from an overwhelming number of Happiness Patrons SFA plans will be able to help as many children as possible.
Leadership also plays a significant role in SFA's success; led by Bhunesh Sharma as
CEO of the organization, SFA leadership is taken care of by 24 state leaders and 250 city leaders who consistently thrive on learning & work for accountability, management of learning centers, admission of volunteers, school onboarding etc.