TELSA initiated a project of providing free bicycles and tricycles to students from poor families attending Zilla Parishat High Schools in remote villages of the former state of Andhra Pradesh in 2008, continuing it year after year. The program remains active in the two Telugu speaking states after the State of Telangana was carved out last year.
From the beginning, the program has been a big success with hundreds of schools and thousands of students taking advantage of it. All Telugu speaking districts have been beneficiaries of this program.
Over these years, over four hundred schools, some of them every year, requested and received help from TELSA in implementing this program.
The student whose family could afford it, or a group of teachers or a local donor is required to contribute a small portion, often no more than 10% of the total cost of the bicycle. Every student signs a pledge to not to sell or fail to maintain the bicycle given to her or him for at least three years besides making every effort to improve class room performance and also take a vow to help someone in need when he or she becomes an earning adult member of society.
The distribution of bicycles with a logo of TELSA imprinted is always done in the presence of the entire school, the local media and an invited guest. Press clippings and pictures are sent to TELSA along with suppliers’ receipts, students and their parents’ acquittance signatures.
Merit, need, based on family income, and distance from school are factors taken into account in selecting beneficiaries. Girls receive slightly higher preference. Girls to boys ratio has generally been 54/46. Telangana schools have generally taken greater advantage of the program with better response rates in submitting applications and the required documentation.
A team from TELSA has paid unscheduled visits each year to a randomly chosen set of 15/20 schools to meet the students at their schools along with their bicycles and also obtained performance evaluation feedback. These visits have covered all 23 districts and the program’s success is in the high 90s.
The number of beneficiary schools and students is 425 and 4200 respectively. Over 80 students with physical disabilities have received hand pedaled tricycles.
Over $200,000 have been raised and distributed on this program. No intermediaries are used in its implementation.