What is Assist a Student?
The Assist a Student program gives you the opportunity to provide the funding to support the education of a student in one of our partner countries for one year.
In many Asia Pacific countries, poverty means talented individuals lack opportunities. The education of a person develops self-esteem and skills and in turn has a positive effect on their community. Education is a key to enabling an individual to support themselves, their families and their communities independently in the future. In our partner countries, local St Vincent de Paul Society members select students from families in need to be assisted by the program. Selected students receive assistance for one year with money donated contributing to their education needs, which can include course or school fees, uniforms and books.
The Program commenced in 1986 as the Adopt A Student Program as a pilot program in Victoria providing $70 per student sponsored in Australia’s Twinned countries. The program became national in 1995.
Prefer to donate offline? Download a donation brochure
In 2019, the National Council of Australia requested a review of the AAS Program and engaged Coffey International to conduct the review. The purpose of the review was to examine the impact of the program, and the effectiveness of procedures and systems used in administering the program. The review included written surveys with all current partner countries Kiribati, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Fiji, India, as well as a visit to Kiribati and Indonesia. Focus groups, interviews and surveys were also conducted with Australian stakeholders including members of National Council, State/Territory Presidents and CEOs, fundraising teams and State/Territory AAS Coordinators. The review report was accepted by the National Council in February 2020 and the program was endorsed.
The main findings of the review were:
• Current AAS program partner countries see a strong correlation between receiving an effective education and being able to obtain employment and get ahead. The emphasis on supporting students in partner countries to improve educational outcomes is therefore seen to be highly relevant.
• There was a very clear message from partner countries that the AAS program is important and valued by them, and that providing direct and targeted support to disadvantaged students is appropriate.
• There is evidence that the AAS program does assist children to attend and perform better at school, by:assisting with attendance and completion of school (for example by contributing to school fees or transport to and from school); allowing students to fit in at school and want to attend (for example by providing them with uniforms and materials, helping them to feel supported in their education by the broader community); and improving outcomes at school (by valuing them and their education, and by requiring them to demonstrate commitment to obtain support where this is a requirement).
• The current model, which supports individual students, is appropriate and effective.
• Both overseas and Australian stakeholders felt that the program could be enhanced by increasing the continuity of funding and the monetary amount of support provided per student.
• Systems are largely in place in partner countries that ensure accountability, but additional support in some countries could strengthen effectiveness.
• Coordination and administration arrangements in Australia are adequate, but could be enhanced to be more streamlined and better engage donors.
Some Changes to the Program
The following changes to the program have been deferred to the last quarter of this year, because of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Sponsorship of the Program will increase to $100 per student. As is the case now, any amount can be contributed to the program and this will allow any donors who wish to increase their donation immediately to do so.
The online donation page will be updated to allow donors to give automatically every month. So for one student per year, the amount is $9 per month. It is hoped that this change will provide more consistency in funding and also allow donors to better budget their giving.
While certificates will continue to be provided on an ‘opt in’ basis, they will no longer include the name of a particular student. This is to ensure that the Society is meeting its obligations to protect vulnerable people. The certificate will include the country of the donor’s sponsored student, and will include case studies of a student who has been sponsored in that country. To include these changes there will be a slight change of design of the certificate.