Designing a School for Impoverished Children

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by Indo-Canadian, May 15, 2013.

  1. Indo-Canadian

    Indo-Canadian New Member

    May 15, 2013
    Likes Received:
    o/ Hail Comrades

    Hopefully I'm posting this in the right subforum. This is my first post. I am an Indo-Canadian university student studying engineering and business. One of my goals in this short life is to design and build a sustainable school for the poor in my ancestral land of Punjab. If successful I would like to expand other states. What I see in many developing countries is that parents don't allow their children to go to school (even if it's free and publicly funded) because if they do then the children cannot help the parents at work and thus the family will go hungry. So the solution I thought is that we need schools that act not only as a teacher for the children, but also an employer for the parents.

    The requirements for my school are as follows:
    - Must provide free education for families under the poverty line
    - The core structure of the school must be able to function without donations and gov't help (however donations and gov't help would be greatly beneficial).
    - The school should offer employment to parents under the poverty line.
    - The school should be able to fund itself (i.e. excess output of the school can be sold to pay for operating costs)
    - Must be environmentally sustainable

    The way I envisioned how it would work is like this:
    1) There has to be a big initial investment to build the school, gather supplies, and filling up seats.
    2) The children learn in school while the parents earn income working in business owned by the school (farm, shops, restaurants, auto shops, etc.)
    3) At the end of the month the school fees would be deducted from the parents pay checks. The profits of the school-owned business also go to the school. Their after-deduction income should be high enough for them to live above the poverty line. If this is not met then they'll go back to the same situation as described above.
    4) After paying for operating costs, the excess cash can be either saved, invested, or used to evenly expand the school and businesses so more children and parents can be accommodated.

    A few stats and calculations of India I've come up with. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    Total Youth Population: 574,357,749
    Youth Under Poverty Line: 171,158,609; 29.8%
    Money Spent on Education: 642,510,000,000 USD
    Money Spent on Education per Child per Year: 1,119 USD
    Average Teachers' Pay per Year: 5,737 USD (This is for public school teachers. I've heard that private school teachers in Punjab are paid as low as $220 per year.)

    Yearly Cost of 1 School of 450 Students:
    ** Lets assume there are no utility costs or taxes to keep it simple
    *** Assuming there are 15 years of education (Kindergarden, 1-12, University Level, Adult Education) with 30 students in each grade.
    **** Assume there is 1 teacher per grade from K-9, and the same 12 teachers from 10-13, plus A. (From Grades 10-13 and Adult teachers only get 1/3 of their annual pay because of the trimester class setup so they only work 1/3 of the year in rotation.)
    ***** Also the school can be build in phases so not all the costs need to be upfront. (i.e. Facilities and equipment are built for K-6, then three years later 7=9 equipment and facilities will be built, etc.)

    Equipment Costs:
    $45,000/450 Students/Year
    Teachers' Costs:
    $5000/for Lower Level Education Teacher/Year
    $1666/for High Level Education Teacher/Year
    $50,000/for 10 Lower Level Education Teachers/Year
    $20,000/for 10 High Level Education Teachers/Year

    Total Pay of 20 Teachers per Year: $70,000
    Schools' Total Operating Cost per Year: $115,000
    Student Fees/Child: $255.56

    Assuming a poverty line of $2/day (International Poverty Line is $1.25 but I still would't call that livable), each household needs to make $730 a year to stay above it. They would need to be paid $985 for their work in the school-owned business of which $255 will be deducted for student fees. This would mean that all the school-owned business needs to at least have a profit $443,250 in order to pay the salaries, and this doesn't include operating costs. In other words, whatever goods and services these businesses produce needs to make at least $443,250, and enough to pay for operating costs, to make sure they don't go under. This seems like a lot of money needing to be paid out but keep in mind that the salaries paid are mostly cycled back into the school as households would be spending much of their income buying from other school-owned business.

    I would discuss what's would be taught later on but we should make use of many free online learning resources. One of the major ones is Khan Academy, and the beauty of KA is that videos and lessons can be downloaded onto a hard drive for free and distributed so internet is not required.

    This is crude theoretical calculations and ideas. I would need to do some more research before even attempting to implement a small scale test version of this. These are the things I'll need to research more about.
    1) Cost of building a school that can house 50 people, and 500 people.
    2) Taxes, fees, and hidden 'under the table' payments.
    3) Utility costs.
    4) The actual start up cost for the first 3 years. (I guess the top three fall under this).
    5) Easy to operate local business which can also serve as education tools (i.e. a school owned restaurant can also teach children how to cook).
    6) How to raise funds for a test project and for the real project (would be nice if I was a millionaire, which I'm not, but I do have access to my grandfather's 2 acre farm and my uncle's shop both which are not used).
    7) Back up plan in case of utter failure.

    Feel free to provide your input and critique. If there are any piece of info that I got wrong or something I should read feel free to provide info and the source. Also helping me research about the 7 points above would be a great help.

    parijataka and Known_Unknown like this.
  3. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

    Apr 21, 2009
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    Great idea. However, there is one thing that immediately comes to mind:applicable government laws and regulation. Educational institutions can be private and not-for-profit, however, I have never heard of any educational institutions owning private businesses outside of teaching. This is likely because there might be relevant tax laws and/or regulations that do not permit shifting of income between these businesses.

    Secondly, the idea may be difficult to implement in practice because essentially, you have to create two jobs for every student you admit, while not charging a dime for the education itself. So this might limit the amount of students you are able to admit, and in periods of downturn in the auxillary businesses, you will not only have to lay off workers, but also suspend children from school.

    Lastly, you cannot teach whatever you want in the school (such as stuff from KA). Educational institutions are legally obligated to teach curriculum approved by the state or central government.
    Last edited: May 15, 2013

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