How CSR can add value to primary education in India?

By Manish Kumar Singh

India’s primary education delivery system has indeed transformed from its Gurukul to Macaulay’s education system in 20th century and now Free and Compulsory education system. No one can deny that despite lots of challenges, India has achieved huge milestones in education sector because of its consistent efforts in last many decades by current and successive governments. There is significant access in schooling, increase in enrolments and development of infrastructure in education sector in different part of India.

In existing education service delivery system, there are 3 sources to provide primary education; Government established schools, Government aided schools (run by private institutions or societies) and Private schools. The primary responsibility to provide elementary education to children in country is lies with Government of India with support of their State counterparts. In current scenario Government schools are still largest source to access primary education while numbers of private schools are increasing too.

Some interesting trend emerges from the Annual Status Report 2016 (ASER). Enrolment of students has increased in comparison to its last year tally, the learning ability to students have increased too. The infrastructure has improved in Govt. schools, teacher pupils’ ratio has reached to the desired level, the ratio of gender parity has improved, most of schools are having sanitation facilities etc.

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But still, it’s not enough to reach out to the goal for providing Free and Compulsory education to each and every child in the country. In spite of the massive expansion of educational facilities and efforts made for qualitative improvement of elementary education, the problems of access, participation and quality in respect of elementary education continued to persist. This, together with a variety of new challenges and social needs made it imperative to evolve a new design for education.

In my opinion, only few modifications in existing policy would not make any difference until there is paradigm shift in whole education approach. There is no any coherence between existing educational framework and potential employment sectors which is resulting into massive skill initiatives by Govt. After main stream education program, large chunk of youth are going for additional vocational skilling programs to acquire new skill sets to get employment. If, it would have been synced with their main stream education programs certainly they would have reduced time and effort to get employment and even Govt. might have reduced its exchequer on skill projects too.

Indian Inc may play a very crucial role by engaging with various stakeholders and may deliberate upon formulating a new education delivery mechanism. In new system, corporate may invest their earmarked CSR budget to strengthen, school infrastructure, supply teaching learning materials, capacity building of teachers, designing integrated curriculum and course content, use of technology in monitoring, assessment of schools and most important mobilization of students to improve enrollment and attendance. To make govt. education system lucrative to its customer, corporate may add value by bringing lot of innovative practices from their business experiences.

So my take on this subject, there is need of developing synergy between education policies, course content, service delivery with taking India’s growth (next 25-30 years) in the consideration, especially being attentive to absorb its demographic dividends. For any strong nation their foundation (children) to be strong as well and this could be achieved only by providing quality education to the children and linking education with nation growth plan. Indian Inc has to think beyond conventional education projects to transformative education projects in various streams.

(About the Author: Manish Kumar Singh heads Corporate Social Responsibility at Everest Industries Limited)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are solely of the author in personal capacity and does not in any way represent views of any institution, entity or organisation that the author may has been associated with.

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