This is another question often asked. In the initial stages when MVF ran the project with around 50 to 100 children the success of the program was attributed to the fact that the number of children handled was very small. Later even after the project expanded to over 50 villages and over 10,000 children the view was that it was still not large enough to serve as a model. Today the project covers 500 villages and as many as 1 lakh children have passed through the program. Skepticism on the project nevertheless remains in some quarters. No one really knows how large a size needs to be handled before it can be demonstrated as being replicable.
As far as MVF is concerned the fact that so many children and parents have responded to the program is a clear indication of the validity of the principles directing the program. The child labour situation in the area covered by the project is not in any way different from that prevailing in many parts of the country. In MVF’s view there is absolutely no reason why the program cannot be replicated.
A good indicator of the replicability of a program is the extent to which it seeks to replace existing structures. If the extent of replacement is large then the program is unlikely to be replicable. On the other hand it is marginal then it is definitely replicable. The MVF program very consciously attempts to provide for replication by not building up any parallel structures whatsoever. The approach is to utilise the existing institutions, the Government machinery, and the community to the extent possible. As a result apart from short- term camps, which are disbanded once, the camp is over there is no institution building in the physical sense. The reliance is on Government schools and hostels. The emphasis has also been on influencing government policies because MVF firmly believes that there is no way any significant impact can be made unless the government is fully involved.
Thus for instance the changing of admission rules to permit admissions at any time of the year, the de-emphasising of the NFE program and the policy of having NFE centres attached to schools during day time, recruitment of education volunteers under the DPEP and the entire program of “ back to school” run by the government have resulted from this approach of MVF. Government teachers who have formed themselves into BKVV and their total involvement in the program are another indication of the program’s influence over existing institutions. All these aspects contribute to the replicability of the MVF program as many of its components are slowly being internalised within government programs and policies. As a result over a period of time the MVF program has blended with the existing government programs enriching it rather than supplanting it.
Another aspect of replicability that is often raised related to the people who handle the program. A question that is asked is whether a program on the lines of one run by MVF would succeed if ‘ other people’ were to handle it. The answer depends on exactly what the question implies. If the ‘other people’ is someone who does not accept the basic principles that guide the MVF program then the answer is ”NO” However, any reasonably competent person who accepts the basic principles of the program and who implements the program on the lines devised by MVF would be able to successfully run the program.
In other words, the replicability of the MVF program arises not out of the capabilities of the people running the program but the principles behind the program. If these principles are not accepted then, it is MVF’s belief, that no program of dealing with child labour can be successful irrespective of who runs it. However, if these principles are accepted then it can be successfully implemented. As a result it is a question of the principles on which the program is run rather than who runs it. This is just like running any organisation say for example a financial institution.
As long as certain basic guidelines and practices are adhered to the institution will be able to deliver services successfully irrespective of who is at the helm. In this sense it is replicable. However, no one can deny the role of the individuals and there will definitely be some heads of institutions who are more imaginative, exercise greater initiative and hence be much more successful than others.
These aspects of individuals may not be replicable but this does not mean that the institution and the services it renders are not. In brief therefore, MVF believes that much of its success arises out of the clear set of principles that it has evolved and it is this that holds the key to the program replicability.