Corporate social responsibility in education has always taken the lion’s share of the funding. Although there is a bigger focus on health projects due to the COVID-19 pandemic, funding CSR in education is still top priority for Indian companies if we look at the latest sustainability reports and annual declarations. Access to quality education is fundamental to the growth of India, and India Inc. has not forgotten that.
We present the companies in India currently funding CSR in education in the biggest way.
1. Reliance Industries
Education CSR spend: Rs. 526.66 crores
RIL tops the list when it comes to funding CSR in education. Reliance Foundation Education and Sports for All supports the education of underprivileged children by partnering with 14 NGOs and working at the grassroots level. These NGOs focus on encouraging sports, literacy, and life skills among the children. Under this initiative, a Digital Learning Van, embedded with technology, has been providing quality education to more than 4,000 children from 10 government schools in Mumbai and Thane districts. Together, these initiatives have positively impacted 0.2 million children.
The Dhirubhai Ambani Scholarship (DAS) is aimed at promoting academic and leadership excellence and are awarded to meritorious students who emulate the vision and values of Dhirubhai Ambani, Founder of Reliance Industries Ltd. Dhirubhai Ambani Scholarship (DAS) programme has so far provided financial support to 12,285 meritorious students to pursue graduation in any stream and institution of their choice. Almost half of the DAS scholars are girls, while one-fifth are specially-abled students.
Reliance Foundation Schools are committed to providing an enjoyable and enriching educational experience to children. There are 13 Reliance Foundation Schools, which are located in Jamnagar, Surat, Vadodara, Dahej, Lodhivali, Nagothane, Nagpur and Navi Mumbai, educating over 14,500 children annually.
Education CSR spend: Rs. 132.03 Crores
Educating tomorrow’s bright youngsters is a duty that NTPC deeply cares about. The annual NTPC Utkarsh scholarship is given out to 7,300 students every year from the secondary school to the engineering and medical college level. Mobile science labs ignite a passion for science in government school students. Personal computers with academic materials for standard VIII to X were given to poor students of standard VIII in selected schools in Mumbai.
3. Larsen & Toubro
Education CSR spend: Rs. 95.25
Larsen and Toubro’s CSR projects in the field of education are focused on ensuring sustainable development of communities and contribute to strengthening education and social infrastructure. These initiatives, which mostly cater to children from 3-18 years belonging to marginalized sections of society, provide support for better learning abilities of young minds and supplement learning in schools.
The projects not only cover academics but also touch various other facets of education which includes nutrition at the pre-primary level, setting up of basic infrastructures such as smart classrooms and soft skills to supplement textbook education. They also help train teachers in STEM education and hence make a difference in the entire education cycle of the child.
In 2018-19, L&T supported more than 400 schools and reached out to over 2.4 lakh children with its education initiatives pan-India.
Education CSR spend: Rs. 95.25 crores
Infosys has been the flag-bearer of improving education standards in the country. The dropout rates in primary schools are very high as children from low-income families need to earn to feed themselves. Infosys foundation collaborated with Sri Ramakrishna Vidya Kendra in the Bannerghatta Forest area in Bengaluru to provide free meals to children belonging to BPL (Below Poverty Line) families and hence promote education among them.
Infosys partners with other non-profits like Avanti Fellows who are working in the domain of helping students from low-income groups studying in government schools, to achieve stable, high-paying careers in STEM. In 2014, Infosys Foundation partnered with Avanti Fellows, a non-profit which works on a unique “peer learning” pedagogy, which has been developed after 20 years of research at Harvard University. Avanti Fellows has helped 40,000 students achieve their dreams of good quality education in the last 8 years. The partnership has helped underprivileged students get access to quality STEM education and achieve their dreams of getting admission to the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) and National Institute of Technology (NITs).
Infosys Foundation started the Spark-IT programme in September 2014. Specifically for engineering students, the three-month course aimed to provide technology and communication skills training to those who consistently performed well academically. Infosys Foundation also tied up with a number of institutes in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Pune in order to gain a wider reach
5. Tata Steel
Education CSR spend: Rs. 66.52 crores
Tata Steel has been funding CSR in education for decades. The award-winning 1000 Schools project was launched in January 2015, with the goal of creating a replicable and scalable model of universalisation of elementary education within the Right to Education Framework. The 1000 Schools programme has demonstrated success by bringing more than 8000 children from two tribal blocks, Noamundi and Jagannathpur, of Jharkhand back to school. The bridging programme that takes children out of labour and puts them back in school presents the best stories of transformation. Girls and boys whose lives were once broken, have regained their dignity, health, and education, and this has sparked in each one of them a fierce aspiration to build a brighter future.
6. Hindustan Zinc
Education CSR spend: Rs. 51.4 crores
Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) is funding CSR in education through multiple CSR projects for primary, secondary and higher education students. Flagship project Khushi is a unique tri-partite Public–Private–People initiative. The project is in its fourth year and directly reaches 60,000 children in 3,089 Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) in select Blocks of Ajmer, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand and Udaipur districts. The AWCs are important grassroots village level institution that cater to the health, nutrition and pre-school needs of children. Last year, two AWC workers, Rukmani Bhoi and Vimla Kunwar were awarded with ‘National Awards for Exceptional Achievements’ by the Ministry for Women & Child Development.
Nand Ghar project provides a child-safe and friendly learning environment with amenities like safe drinking water, uninterrupted supply of solar power, digital learning facilities, etc. In 2019, 264 Nand Ghars were constructed taking the total to 314. Shiksha Sambal project aims at quality teaching of Science, Maths and English (SEM) subjects and is now reaching out to more than 7800 students in 60 Government schools.
Jeevan Tarang focuses on more than 800 children with special needs who have hearing/visual impairment or have special intellectual need. The objective is to make the children self-reliant through improved education opportunities including technology-based learning. Hindustan Zinc provides merit-cum-means scholarships called ‘Yashad Sumedha’ for youth pursuing engineering education. In 2019-20, 111 students received this scholarship. HZL also provides full scholarship for girls from villages around its operations to pursue higher education at Vedanta Post-Graduate Girl’s College, Ringus. The Company supported 51 girls in the year 2019, taking the total to 98 girls.
7. HDFC Bank
HDFC Parivartan, the CSR umbrella of the bank, puts focus on inclusive and quality education for all. Efforts in the area of education include teacher training, HDFC Bank CSR Parivartan scholarships and career guidance, infrastructural support, such as building toilets in schools and improving classrooms.
Project Disha is an initiative that has helped achieve higher levels in numeracy, reading and science in the remote and rural areas of India. Project Disha was initiated in 2016 and is currently spread across four states in India; namely Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The project has been able to provide quality education to about 18,000 children.
Educational Crisis Scholarship Support (ECSS) educates children from economically and socially disadvantaged groups who are most at risk of dropping out of school due to sudden financial crisis. ECSS Parivartan scholarships help students navigate difficult situations without affecting their education.
Teacher training provides teachers with alternative teaching pedagogy, improves their soft skills and promotes innovation. One of the innovations is Navachar Pustika (Innovations Handbook), a compilation of innovative teaching ideas contributed by teachers themselves. These zero cost, high impact ideas are part of HDFC Bank’s ‘Teaching-the-Teacher’ (3T) programme under #Parivartan. The 3T programme is run in partnership with Sri Aurobindo Society. This programme is in line with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the Government of India and SDG 4.
8. Ambuja Cement
Ambuja Cement Foundation (ACF) trains Balmitras to work with slow learners in order to help them achieve their academic milestones. Balmitras also promote the involvement of children in preparing and using various teaching learning materials. ACF has supported several schools before and during the pandemic in imparting teaching through electronic mode and by injecting educational resources and tools into classrooms to help children learn more, faster.
One of the biggest programmes from ACF, the CSR arm of the company, is a special education school. Called Ambuja Manovikas Kendra (AMK), the school in Ropar, Punjab is meant for a section which is considered a last priority in the education sector: differently-abled children.
Bharat Petroleum believes education is a basic right of children and a tool of empowering them for India’s future. This is the reason quality education is a core thrust area for corporate social responsibility there. The CSR Department monitors successful programmes across units and scales them to be replicated on a larger canvas. In this manner, it has been successful in educating 8 lakh students through its programmes. There are two flagship education programmes in progress: CAL and Saksham.
CAL is a flagship CSR project of BPCL for digital literacy of deserving school students. CAL has made 1 lakh kids literate in Uran, Lucknow, Mumbai and Jaipur since it was launched. Another aspect of CAL is that it has managed to reduce dropout rates in government school kids, who are otherwise easily distracted with the pen-and-paper mode of learning. Computer education has added another dimension to their learning. Girls are especially empowered since they aren’t always allowed access to Personal Computers at home.
Saksham is another flagship project that works towards empowering school principals and teachers, who do the thankless job of educating rambunctious children, day after day. Government school teachers are especially in need of help since they do not get the benefit of upgrading their skill and knowledge base regularly.
Beside these two flagship programmes, Project Akshar is an early age education intervention for children from tribal families. Akshar covers schools in 1,059 villages in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. BPCL CSR supports a new hostel block for women at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) where young women are encouraged to pursue a career in STEM. Nirmaan is an infrastructure-based intervention in government schools. It is currently working on facilities for 30 primary schools in the Aspirational District of Darrang.
10. ITC Group
Eduation CSR Spend: Rs. 22.78 crores
The ITC Group’s Primary Education Programme is directed at kids from weaker sections of society in ITC Group’s factory catchments. The programme covered 1.15 lakh children in 24 districts of 14 states last year. In all, around 6.91 lakh children have been impacted. The education programme improved the infrastructure in 199 government primary schools. Boundary walls, additional classrooms, toilets and furniture were installed. As of last year, a total of 1,802 primary schools have benefited.
Funding CSR in education will only help build the nation back better from the ravages of the pandemic and existing threats of poverty and unemployment.