The Fairtrade premium amount is an additional sum of money given to producer organizations that farmers and workers use to invest in projects of their choice. South Asian Sourcing Pvt. Ltd. (SAS) is a Fairtrade-certified organization that has been cultivating sustainable and non-GMO cotton since the 2014-15 season. Initially starting with a limited area, SAS gradually expanded its cultivation by controlling the organic seed through testing and process control. The Fairtrade cotton producers belong to two focused communities in the villages of Haroonabad and Fortabbas, located in District Bahawalnagar. As of today, the majority of students in the farm area attend primary schools run by the provincial government. However, there were various obstacles that had a severe impact on the children of the farmers. Hence, the organization decided to utilize the Fairtrade premium amount received for the education of the children.
In the year 2022, South Asian Sourcing Fairtrade Farms (SASFTF) as part of the General Education Assistance Program extended benefits to all children of Fairtrade cotton producers and 100% of the students in government schools situated within the Fairtrade producer’s community. A total of 4,381 school kits were distributed under the Education Assistance Program of 2022. Each school kit contained essential items such as notebooks, pens, sharpeners, erasers, colour pens, scales, paper boards, ink pens, pencil cases, geometry boxes, lunch boxes, water bottles, face masks, and sanitisers.
In addition to these benefits, SASFTF took an additional step to promote education by distributing school shoes in the next phase of the Education Assistance Program. The SAS team visited each school to measure shoe sizes for every enrolled individual, ensuring a proper fit. SAS sourced genuine leather from the national market to provide shoes made of the highest quality materials. South Asian Sourcing conducted also distributed school uniforms to school students. It was noticed that most students only had one pair of school uniform as it was not washed/cleaned due to unavailability of a rotational pair of school uniform. Hence, a team of trailers met with the students for measurements and local manufacturer was recruited for the same.
The impacts created through these projects as part of the Education Assistance Program are as follows:
- Improved Quality of Education: By providing quality consumables to primary students for the entire academic session, the program helps enhance student retention and interest in school life.
- Level playing field/equal approach for gender and income group: The Education Assistance Program ensures that every student in the schools, regardless of gender, caste, or the profession of parents, receives the facility. This promotes equal access to education for all students in the community.
- Improved Student Lifestyle and Self-Respect: By providing quality gear for school life, the program enhances the students’ overall lifestyle and self-esteem.
- Improved Academic Results: The availability of quality stationery with every student allows schools to impart education more effectively. It also satisfies parents and students, as they have the necessary tools for homework and classwork. In addition to this, equipping students with quality school shoes creates a conducive learning environment, leading to improved academic performance and increased satisfaction among parents and students.
- Social Exposure for Young Students: The program promotes healthy interaction, competition, and social interaction with other schools, providing valuable social exposure. The distribution of school shoes promotes healthy interaction, competition, and social interaction among students, fostering a sense of equality and unity.
- Enhanced Discipline, Unity, and Uniformity: The provision of school shoes promotes discipline, unity, and uniformity within the classroom, creating a positive learning environment.
- Increase in Overall School Enrolment: The Education Assistance Program has had a significant impact on school enrolment. When non-school-going children and their parents witness the support provided to school-going children, they are more inclined to enroll their own children in school.
- Benefiting parents: Education Assistance Program especially benefited the parents of the students as a financial burden of school expenses is lifted.
The Education Assistance Program with the premium amount received by Fairtrade NAPP by the organization has been transforming the educational landscape in the Fairtrade cotton producers’ community. The provision of quality consumables, including school kits and school shoes, has not only improved the quality of education but also promoted equality, enhanced student lifestyles, and fostered a sense of unity among students. The program has significantly contributed to increased enrolment, improved academic performance, and a reduction in the disparities among students. In this way, the investments made with the Fairtrade premium are often directed towards initiatives to improve the community, provide training and allocate resources for the betterment of the farmers and workers.
“In South Punjab we have larger families as compared to central Punjab and Expenses on Stationery and uniform are impacting measurably on low family income. It’s a blessing for us”” Aftab Bajwa, Fairtrade cotton producer
“It’s a great support for farmer parents to provide them relief from annual stationery expenses during inflation era. We are thankful to Fairtrade” Abdul Ghaffar, Fairtrade cotton producer
“It’s a Great Initiative BY SAS to promote literacy and supporting lowest income tier of society. We have observed smile on students face we never had before. Thanks to SAS and Fairtrade.” – Zareena Ali, Head Teacher.