Building A Better Future: CSR And The Indian Education Sector

India is home to more than 400 million children. This is 30% of the country’s total population. Out of these, over 100 million have never been to school. This means that one in every four children in our country has had no access to formal education.

But the problem doesn’t stop there. The world average literacy rate stands at 84% and India’s average lies well below that number at 74%.

According to UNICEF studies, the dropout rates in India are unusually high. Around 80 million children are not even completing elementary school and 8 million others drop out at various levels. In fact, the dropout rate amongst adolescent girls is as high as 63.5%. This means that more than a fourth of our country’s future workforce will not be capable of holding the jobs meant for them.

How can CSR help change the education scenario in our country? And why should companies use their CSR money in education? Let’s take a look.

Securing Your Business’ Future

Most businesses strive to impact areas which have a correlation with their own business goals, and education is usually an important part of their plan. By sponsoring educational activities, companies can hire students that show high potential. Building a more educated workforce is extremely important and by doing this organisations can move towards specific goals and targets in the education ecology.

Project Genesis, run by Infosys, helps in developing the skill of the non-engineering graduates to ensure that they meet industry requirements. Through this scheme, they enabled 16,762 students to gain access to jobs in the IT sector.

Creating An Impact That Lasts

A key aspect of CSR in the education sector is following up on monetary and infrastructural handouts. For example, the Mahindra Satyam Computer Literacy/Distribution Program not only distributed over a 1000 computers to government/corporation schools, but also sends volunteers to conduct computer training programs for both students and teachers in these schools.

And in a bid to rapidly improve their workforce’s skill base, HCL’s Teach At Office program provides support staff with a range of workshops on basic etiquette, financial management, and health and hygiene. They are also taught basic computer skills and are trained in conversational English. This not only helps them become more dedicated employees, but empowers a section of society that is increasingly neglected in a tech-dominated world.

Raising The Infrastructural Bar

Investment from private and public companies can dramatically enhance the quality of education in a very short time. Especially since the biggest factor when driving nationwide educational reform is financial backing, needed to strengthen the educational infrastructure in underdeveloped regions.

Corporate India can contribute towards a change as it is equipped to provide these skill set rather than the NGOs and Govt. They can also provide highly effective teaching aids and other resources, and through partnerships with the government, play a vital role in higher education too. Cognizant, for example undertakes extensive infrastructural projects like rebuilding classrooms and setting up teaching labs. In 2011, they undertook 146 such projects across the country. But they aren’t the only ones investing in India’s educational foundations.

IBM, with the help of its Reinventing Education Program has integrated Information and Communication Technology and pedagogy tools in 50 government schools to make learning fun and simple. Aside from that, with the Transformed Classroom model, they have managed to empower over 600 teachers and given over 7000 students in 90 schools a better standard of learning.

A Multitude Of Returns

Most educational CSR initiatives can assist companies to sustain long term growth and profitability and increase their level of acceptance among local populations. Through this they can meet their CSR requirements and can potentially operate with an increased ability to hire and retain employees, fulfilling growth targets at a much faster pace.

Apart from the fact that involvement in educational development brings in heaps of goodwill, corporates also have the opportunity to raise public awareness about issues faced by our education system.

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