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CSR is key to Education in India

Education enables socioeconomic mobility upward and is a key to escaping poverty. It has to grow above being a popular slogan or phrase and should have many interventions on the policy and philanthropic front

An intricate and delicate thread connects education to sustainability and the economy of any country. As an educator, any community has a much larger role to play, and it will, as they have done for many past generations. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will be a key player. The nation and society cannot be developed and become advanced without education. This is why around 33% of the CSR budget focuses on Education development in rural and urban areas. For example, the Reliance Foundation has taken many initiatives in the education sector, such as “education for all” and “girl child education” under this, have constructed many primary and high schools in rural and urban areas. With more than 50% of the Indian population living in rural areas, growth and development in rural areas are directly proportional to India’s economic growth. The United Nations’ vision for education is one of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) with 169 targets. Goal 4 of SDG aims to: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” India is a signatory to these goals to be achieved by 2030. UNICEF and CII joined hands to help corporates effectively structure their CSR activities in education; Tata Strategic Management Group (Tata Strategic) has conducted a study to identify best practices of CSR in education. Taking its inimitable CSR stance forward, Chennai Airport, in collaboration with Samabhavana (NGO), has set up Mini science centres (MSCs) in five selected Government Schools in the vicinity of Chennai Airport under Airports Authority of India (AAI) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Scheme. Mini science centres work best at schools by simplifying fundamental science concepts for students with demonstrative methods while imparting quality and curiosity in them and their curriculum. STEM Learning was conceptualised to empower underprivileged children in rural India with basic STEM concepts.

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, on many public platforms, has pointed out that the CSR activities of CPSEs should focus on using technology to improve learning outcomes in educational institutions in the aspirational districts because it is only with the use of technology that quantum jump can be made in the field of education especially languages and science subjects. Indian companies have spent at least ₹2,669 crores of CSR funds in the education sector in 2019-20, according to the latest official data. Of the total amount spent on education, while ₹42.73 crores have gone towards special education, ₹2,626.69 was spent on mainstream education. Aligning Education and Skilling in the CSR Agenda, a Team Lease Education Foundation Research report January 2022, gives us a future of CSR spending on education.

Current CSR Spends

95.83% of companies direct their CSR funds towards Education, Vocational Skilling, and Livelihood Improvement, 50% to Health, Eradicating Hunger, Poverty and Malnutrition, Safe Drinking Water, and Sanitation, 45.83% of funds, are also dedicated to initiatives that promote Gender Equality, Women Empowerment, Old Age Homes, Reducing Inequalities.

Challenges in the skilling ecosystem

  • 70% of companies mentioned that connecting the right candidates to the right opportunities is their major perplexity
  • 42% at tributed to lack of infrastructure as a cause for distress
  • Even the pandemic hindered the organic implementation of CSR programs.

CSR towards education/ skilling

  • 46% of the companies stated that they deploy more than
  • 50% of their funds towards Skilling and Education
  • Companies are directing a majority of their funds towards imparting employability skills to School or College Dropouts (22.8%), Women (20.4%), and People with Disabilities (18%)

The future

  • 70% of India Inc. plans to increase their CSR funding towards skilling/ education in 2022
  • 85% of companies have already revamped their CSR initiatives, aligned to COVID impact
  • 80% of companies have taken up special initiatives already to monitor and measure impact closely
  • 40% are even spending more to analyse impact better

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