Education is the key to awareness and knowledge, which in turn are the keys to reformation. So, it is correct to believe that if the society has to be reformed by reducing the divide between social and economic classes in India, education has to become the prime priority of not only the government but also of every citizen.
Realizing that education is a comprehensive solution to improving the standards of the Indian society, the government has launched several initiatives. However, the problem is with the quality of implementation. Lack of resources and trained personnel are becoming the main reasons for inadequate education. One way to bridge the gap is to divert private investment into the education sector and make it possible for every child to have access to good education. Corporate Social Responsibility can become the key element for improving the quality of education.
Access to basic infrastructure
Children belonging to economically backward sections struggle for basic amenities such as uniform, stationary, books, bags, shoes and socks. Schools lack furniture and other essential amenities. The lack of these amenities discourages children from going to school. CSR funds can ensure that children have access to these facilities so that they do not lose interest in attending school.
Access to passionate teachers
Teachers define the interest and enthusiasm that children have towards studies. Donations from the private sector will enable good quality graduates to educate children and develop a keen interest in them towards learning. Often, the poor quality and lack of enthusiasm among teachers in these schools contribute to the collapse of the schooling system for these children.
One example of this benefit is seen in the work of an NGO called Teach for India. This NGO has branches in various cities. The basic work that the NGO does is recruit passionate, motivated and intelligent graduates who wish to volunteer to teach academic concepts to children in government schools. These individuals are assigned to different schools in various parts of the country to empower children with quality education.
Access to modern technology
Education should make children ready to survive and win in the current world. So, in the present scenario, education is incomplete without equipping children with the knowledge of modern technological advancements such as computers and Internet. Furthermore, with private funding, children can get access to educational videos, webinars and seminars from different parts of the world.
Access to skill development programs
In the highly competitive world today, mere academic knowledge is not enough. Students also need to rank high in soft skills and employability skills. Unfortunately, such skills are not an integral part of the Indian education system. CSR initiatives can play a major role in making qualified trainers accessible to children so that they can obtain the benefits of an all round personality. CSR can also enable children to go on field trips and industrial visits so that they can experience the real world that awaits them in the future. Children can get access to abacus training, yoga and other such programs that help them develop into strong and skilled assets to the society.
Lead Nation, a training and skill development organization based out of Bangalore, has a vertical called GUARD in which they channelize private sponsorships to develop soft skills, life skills and conduct personality development trainings for the underprivileged children. They assign highly qualified and experienced trainers to underprivileged schools to empower children emotionally, mentally, socially, psychologically and physically.
Udaan is another Not for Profit organization that trains children in government schools in computer skills and spoken English.
Access to higher education
Despite awareness about the importance of education, the school dropout rate remains alarmingly high in India. One of the main reasons is financial constraints and lack of adequate resources. CSR can bridge this gap and ensure that more number of students are completing their schooling and going on for higher education. CSR can also help children enroll in vocational courses that can help them have a dignified career.
Several foundations and NGOs such as CRY (Child Rights and You), Barefoot-College India, Pratham and Make a Difference are committed to empowering children using CSR activities.