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CSR in Education: Complement rather than Substitute
Roughly 40,000 Crores of rupees are spent on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan by the central and various state governments of India each year. Progress, at best, has been modest. Much of the inefficiencies can be attributed to mismanagement, leakages and indifference of the officials. The roots could perhaps lie in incompetence and weak monitoring programs. If the efficiency of the program could be improved by as little as 2%, it would lead to savings (or effective added contribution) of more than INR 800 crores per year. Clearly, investing a small sum of money in improving the effectiveness of the Abhiyan can give huge dividends. And it is not difficult to improve the efficiency by 2 %.Read full article
India needs as much support as it can get in improving her statistics on primary education. We have a huge population that does not send their children to school. Many of those who send them are disappointed because quite often the schools are broken down shacks with no teachers or facilities. We cannot think of growth, progress, prosperity and equity without improving the condition of our schools. Therefore, it is encouraging to see that many companies spend a large part of their CSR money in building quality educational institutes. Some organisations use relevant criteria like needs-based assessment or strategically choose catchment areas close to their factories in under-developed regions for intervention, while some others are guided by factors such as the promoters’ association with the region or the area of operation of the NGOs that approach them first. While the degree of impact may vary based on the merits of these criteria, every good educational institute is likely to have a positive impact.
However, instead of building new schools or educational institutes, can we use our little CSR money more effectively in order to enhance its impact on the education sector? Can the businesses, for instance, adopt existing government schools, and thus redirect their funds on teachers’ training, developing effective pedagogy and syllabus, upkeep of buildings and other facilities, monitoring and evaluation, instead of exhausting a major part of their CSR funds on land procurement and building construction. In such cases, CSR money will be spent towards maintaining higher standards in government schools. There could still be a better way, as is discussed below.
Last year alone, INR 42,000 Crores were spent on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan by the central and various state governments of India. Progress, at best, has been modest. Much of the inefficiencies can be attributed to mismanagement, leakages and indifference of the officials. The roots could perhaps lie in incompetence and weak monitoring programs. If the efficiency of the program could be improved by as little as 2%, it would lead to savings (or effective added contribution) of more than INR 800 crores per year. Clearly, investing a small sum of money in improving the effectiveness of the Abhiyan can give huge dividends.
Companies that are able to contribute to CSR have generally a proven track record of good management skills & efficient operational capabilities. These capabilities can be pooled & offered to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan through a clearly defined process of cooperation between the State & the businesses. The impact of the amount spent on it will be much more than the impact one would achieve by setting up a few new schools or even adopting some schools. A consortium of companies must get together & engage with the Government to help in execution of its social sector programs. It would be a form of Private & Public sector partnership for social sector development. There may be some resistance initially from bureaucrats in allowing private hands to interfere in government schemes. But if the two are able to work in tandem to leverage mutual synergies, the results could be impressive.
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