The community participatory method known as "Wealth and Well-being Ranking" is used to identify recipients in particular localities for development interventions. This methodology has been adapted to suit the purpose of selecting the children from the poorest families in a village as assessed by the community itself, so that biases are avoided and that the result will be transparent. Briefly the steps of the process are as follows:
- Select the poorest district / division based on secondary information from government Census and Statistics
- Select the poorest sub-division, again based on secondary data available
- Select the poorest villages in consultation with the respective local public officials (Grama Niladharies)
- Obtain the household list pertaining to selected villages from the Grama Niladharies
- Preparation for the Community Participatory Exercise:
- Prepare 3 sets of the householders list in three different colour cards for each village
- Train the field team with regard to the process to be followed in the field
- Contact the Grama Niladharies of each selected village for getting a minimum of 30 householders to participate at the community meeting on a date agreed upon by the Grama Niladharies and the Sella Katharagama Maha Vidyalaya (local college official) coordinating the process for the Trust
- Community Participatory Field Exercise:
- Address the gathering of community members and explain the purpose of the exercise
- Brainstorm with the community members on the criteria as they perceive in identifying the poorest, richest and average categories in the village considering wealth (economic status) and well-being (living conditions and family situation). The results were visualized on large sheets of paper and displayed on the wall as reference criteria
- Divide the community into 3 groups for each village (using counting method of 1, 2, 3) - The 3 groups per village sit separately.
- Distribute the pre-prepared household lists in the three colour cards, one to each group (both villages separately)
- Screen the household list for identifying families with school-going children and the others are eliminated from the categorization exercise (for our purpose)
- Ask each group to "pile sort" the household list with school-going children into categories as follows: First group to do the pile sorting as poor, average and the rich (3 categories). Second group to do the pile sorting as very poor, poor, average and the rich (4 categories). Third group to do the pile sorting as very poor, poor, average, above average and rich (5 categories).
- Six trained facilitators assist all three groups in each village and the representative from the SHGST oversees the process
- Documentation of Results: Format 1: Giving weighted score to group 1 as poor (100), average (66) and the rich (33). Giving weighted score to group 2 as very poor (100), poor (75), average (50) and rich (25). Giving weighted score to group 3 as very poor (100), poor (80), average (60), above average (40) and rich (20). Format 2: Arrange the scoring according to household list number and calculate the average divided by 3. Format 3: Based on the average score per household arrange according to the descending order from 100. Format 4: Eyeball the list and decide on the cutoff points as very poor, poor, average and rich. Based on Format 4 the households that fall into the different categories can be identified and displayed in public, so that the children from the poorest category can be selected to receive scholarships.
- In the event of any disagreement decisions can be further checked by observational visits to the particular family disputed (it is very rare as triangulation takes place during the group exercises with lot of discussion among themselves until they come to an agreement). For example, sometimes even if the householder is economically better off, the family may be large in number and may have disabled children or elderly parents who are ailing and require economic support. These well-being conditions are taken into consideration during discussions and they place that particular household into the relevant category based on those perceptions. These decisions are very often uncontested as the facts of family circumstances are well known in the community.
The selected recipients were awarded the scholarships. When the number of children in the selected family is more than one, the parents are allowed to select the child who should receive the scholarship. They do so when filling the application form and are certified by the Grama Niladhari and the Principal of the school where the student attends. They were also required to certify that child attends Sunday school in temple (Buddhist), or Kovil (Hindu), or Church (Christian) according to their religion.
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