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ICB Visits TREP

~ Tammy Jifri, ICB Charity Liaison

On a Saturday earlier this year, 6 members and 4 children from ICB visited the Total Residential Education Programme (TREP), a part of Sai Shankar Loving Lights - one of the charities supported by the ICB.


TREP is a 5 year residential programme for 61 girls and boys. They have to go through a rigorous admissions process to be accepted into the programme. This includes oral and written exams, a trial stay in the dorms, home visits by the faculty and more. Children are taken into the programme on merit and need (they come from the poorest homes). Once accepted they get their grade 6 to grade 10 education for free. The programme is much more than academics. At TREP they pride themselves on providing a value based education with a spiritual focus. Another unique feature is that the children must be fluent in English by the time they graduate. This is quite an achievement as many of the children come into the programme speaking very little English. 



The visit to TREP started with an ICB sponsored lunch with the students and staff. We enjoyed a simple, wholesome, vegetarian meal sitting outside in the courtyard. It was a chance for the ICB members to start to get to know the kids. The children were very chatty, curious and confident. They wanted to tell us about their experiences at TREP and also wanted to know about us. It was a very enjoyable and engaging meal time.


After lunch we had a chance to walk through the building where the children live. It’s a

two storey building with girls on the top floor and boys on the ground floor. We were really impressed with how neat and clean and organised the living areas were - the children very clearly take great pride in their environment and were really happy to show us their rooms. 


Our visit ended with observing the unique monetary system they use in their programme to make the students more responsible and self sufficient. It’s called T.I.M.S., which stands for TREP Incentive Monetary System. The system percolates into every part of student life, where the students are given various responsibilities such as being a floor monitor, librarian, banker, hygiene checker etc. Based on how well they do their job they earn points which translates into T.I.M.S currency, which can be earned and saved to be spent for themselves, family or

friends in a bi-yearly TREP auction and/or at the in-house Fancy Store. This encourages healthy competition and it also builds community and a sense of doing something for the greater good; for example the children get points for keeping their rooms clean, waking up on time etc. However, they will only earn points if all four members of the room they live in wake up on time each day. If one of them is late that room won’t get any points for the day, so it is in their interest to help each other. This was also evident with the older students taking care of the younger students. 


A note of thanks & appreciation from the TREP family on a handmade card

Every Saturday the students receive the currency they have earned for the week. Again, this is not just handed out to them, they have to be able to do some pretty complicated mental arithmetic as their points are counted. ICB members were able to observe this process with much fascination and awe. Many of us could not do the mental arithmetic as quickly and accurately as the TREP students. Some of the members had a go at calculating the points earned by each student, which was a lot of fun. 


All the ICB members who attended felt it was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the talented and confident students of TREP. Bobji and Seethamma who run the programme have done an exceptional job in creating an environment and giving the children an opportunity to grow, thrive and flourish into young adults who live conscientiously and want a better tomorrow. 


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