For the past 23 years, retired UWindsor librarian and sessional instructor in economics, Tad Venkateswarlu’s Tenali School Project has provided 190 orphaned and marginalized children in India an opportunity to earn a high school diploma. Now Dr. Venkateswarlu is showing the greater impact such programs have on the economy and the widespread benefits of investing in education.
In his study Socio-Economic Effects of Tenali School’s 190 Students, Venkateswarlu says that such programs impact more than the individual student. Of the 190 students who have graduated -sixty percent are girls- many have either continued their studies or pursued such business opportunities as sewing and soap production.
“The investment has ripple effects caused by our students’ interaction with the global economy,” he says.
Venkateswarlu’s study calculates that future income earned by the 190 alumni throughout their lifetime will total about $28.9 million Canadian.
“They will use this money for investment purposes, to consume goods and services and to pay taxes, boosting the gross domestic product (GDP) of India,” he says.
“…This seems to be a favorable return on the original $815,000 Canadian dollar investment. More so when we consider the net social return of roughly $3.4 million Canadian dollars, in the form of paid taxes to the Indian government.”
Venkateswarlu says first world investment in third world education programs averages less than four percent of GDP. Allocating foreign aid money for education can benefit such countries as Canada, particularly considering that one of three jobs in Ontario depends in one way or another on India’s exports.
“If developing countries are not allowed the opportunity to grow, foreign countries may lose their exporting power and suffer. In other words we create jobs locally by giving aid to third world countries.”
Venkateswarlu is planning future visits to India to deliver a series of lectures on his study’s findings, with the aim of encouraging others to learn from his experience and perhaps follow his example. He is also working with his three children to introduce a scholarship to further support the Taneli School and to honour his late wife and parents.