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.
Indian companies funding CSR in education
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.
Education CSR spend: Rs. 123.52 crore
Wipro spends a major portion of its annual CSR budget towards education and skilling initiatives as well as scholarships and grants. Systemic Reforms in School Education is the first-ever corporate social responsibility initiative by the IT major back in 2001. The programme supports organisations doing good work in primary education and also pushes other social organisations to implement education projects. Another education initiative is tailored for children with disabilities. It integrates not only tutoring but also assistive technology, health and nutrition.
Wipro Earthian is the company’s flagship CSR programme where Education meets Sustainability. It is India’s biggest sustainability education CSR initiative. Earthian has two components: the pan India outreach programme and the CEP (Continuous Engagement Programme). The year 2020 marks the 10th anniversary for this successful event. The idea is to get young people to care for the environment and come up with new solutions.
Azim Premji University lends a hand to the Education sector and overall Development of India through its courses and need-based scholarships. The univ has an explicit commitment towards social change, using education as a vehicle.
Wipro takes a distinct approach towards scholarships and fellowships for sustainable development. Rather than mere monetary assistance, WASE and WiSTA expose STEM students to the latest tech. Santoor Women’s Scholarship has been fostering girl child education in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka.
Education CSR spend: Rs. 95.25 crore
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. Mahanadi Coalfields Limited
Education CSR spend: Rs. 69.41 crore
Although this public sector company is in the top 5 for funding CSR education, the funds are distributed in a manner that is hard to track and scrutinize. It appears to give importance to the government’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao andolan by supporting girl child education in various backward districts. Most of the programmes are conducted at the primary and lower secondary levels in government schools in regions where the company operates.
6. Tata Steel
Education CSR spend: Rs. 66.52 crore
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.
7. Hindustan Zinc
Education CSR spend: Rs. 51.4 crore
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.
8. HDFC Bank
Education CSR spend: Rs. 48 crore
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.
9. Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited
Education CSR spend: Rs. 44.26 crore
HDFC Ltd. implements its CSR initiatives through the HT Parekh Foundation, named after Founder Chairman, H T Parekh. The foundation goes the whole hog for education, from pre-school to PG degrees, to teacher training modules.
The company spent 33% of its CSR budget on education this year. With the goal of better learning outcomes, HDFC Ltd. was a resource for social organisations involved in e-learning and holistic development, those identifying school dropouts and mainstreaming girl child education, since children tend to drop out of school as they move to higher secondary. The company’s CSR offered scholarships and career guidance to students from underprivileged households. Children with special needs got the benefit of a specially designed curriculum and assistive therapy.
10. Mahindra and Mahindra
Education CSR spend: Rs. 40.76 crore
Mahindra & Mahindra has been funding CSR in education for three decades. The programmes range from vocational courses for youth from low-income families, to allowing meritorious students to pursue higher studies at reputed universities abroad, to scholarships for remarkable students at Mahindra United World College in Pune.
Project Nanhi Kali is the flagship CSR project of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M). It is India’s largest and most effective programme for girl child education. While the Company supported 18,974 young girls, the Mahindra Group supported the education of 66,348 girls. The project provides 360-degree support to girls from Class 1st to Xth, including two free hours after school remedial classes every day. The team also works to sensitise parents and communities on the importance of educating girls and to become their collective guardians.
Another highlight of M&M’s CSR in education is the Mahindra Pride programme. Mahindra Pride Classrooms crossed the 100,000 outreach mark in 2020. Through 2,597 Mahindra Pride Classrooms, 1,19,349 youth from ITI’s, Polytechnics and Arts & Science colleges were trained in English, life skills and job preparedness, across 14 States in India, out of which 79,566 students were supported by the Company.
11. Ultratech Cement
Education CSR Spend: Rs. 36 crore
Ultratech Cement is an Aditya Birla Group company that’s engaged in the manufacture and marketing of cement. Education is a core area of focus for corporate social responsibility there. Their units support the cause of Girl Child education through their engagement with the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhyalayas (KGBV) – residential schools for girls. So far, 532 girls who had dropped out from their schools in the villages were re-enrolled. The company distributed uniforms, books and bags to 14,546 children in rural areas while schools received visual educational aids and lab equipment.
Other interventions include the school enrollment programmes, talent search programmes, free coaching classes and computer education.
12. Tata Consultancy Services
Education CSR Spend: Rs. 36 crore
Tata Consultancy Services runs Best in Class literacy programmes like ALP, Launchpad and Project InsighT. Lab on Bike is a quality education programme for government school kids, run in partnership with Agastya International Foundation. An instructor goes around schools on his bike with a compact kit to conduct science experiments. In the process, children learn new concepts in Physics, Biology and Chemistry.
Launchpad began in 2016 as a gamified free online course for higher secondary students, and is making impact on scale in 2020. Students get a basic foundation in computer programming languages. It has reached out to more than 18,000 students since its launch while Project InsighT has helped more than 24,000 students across India and Muscat get a glimpse into the IT world.
Adult Literacy Programme (ALP) is a flagship CSR programme of TCS. This successful programme was started 20 years ago, and is still taking literacy to the rural masses using Computer Based Functional Literacy (CBFL) software developed by the company. It won the India Digital Award for Best use of technology to drive CSR in India.
13. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited
Education CSR spend: Rs. 31.53 crore
Hindustan Petroleum Corporate Limited supports Unnati, Project Adapt, Nanhi Kali and STEM education as part of CSR in education. Unnati takes computing knowledge to students in semi-urban and rural schools. It works in partnership with NIIT Limited for promoting computer education. Project ADAPT supported 300 Children living with Special Needs to pursue their education, skill development and therapies in 2019. Under Project Nanhi Kali, HPCL collaborated with K.C. Mahindra Education Trust to support 13,000 girls from backward and tribal areas in pursuing academics. HPCL supported 28,000 school students under project Agastya for development of scientific temper and conceptual learning through mobile science labs.
14. Bharti Airtel
Education CSR Spend: Rs. 30 crore
Bharti Foundation, the CSR arm of Bharti Airtel, implements and supports all the programmes in primary, secondary, and higher education. The flagship Satya Bharti School Programme, launched in 2006, provides free quality education to underprivileged children in rural India across six states, with a focus on the girl child. Since 2013, the Foundation has also been working in partnership with the government to improve the quality of overall schooling experience for students in government schools through the Satya Bharti Quality Support Program.
As the education sector battled school closures due to COVID-19, the school education programmes have supported teachers to continuously engage students with education, while remaining at home. The Satya Bharti Schools’ teachers worked with parents to ensure optimum learning during the lockdown. They reached out to the students and have connected with them over phone through class-wise WhatsApp groups or voice calls.
The higher education partnerships and CSR initiatives of Bharti Airtel are designed to meet the education paradigms of the 21st century. Bharti School of Telecommunication Technology and Management (IIT, Delhi), Bharti Centre for Communication (IIT, Bombay) and Bharti Institute of Public Policy (ISB, Mohali) are part of the CSR mix for this company.
15. ITC Group
Education CSR Spend: Rs. 22.78 crore
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.
16. Northern Coalfields Limited
Education CSR spend: Rs. 26.01 crore
This public sector company has a no-nonsense approach to education initiatives. Northern Coalfields conducts CSR activities in its surrounding areas based on the need of the hour. Constructing a school building is not enough when the quality of teachers is poor. Scholarships and bicycles will improve access, and hence attendance, so that getting to school is not a struggle. Public sector companies are by far dodgier than private companies in disclosing exact details about their CSR modules and beneficiaries. Although Northern Coalfields spends a significant amount on education programmes, the specifics are missing for the most part.
All we know is that the company undertakes education under the Sab Sakshar Project. Interventions include deficit grant, constructing aanganwadis, classrooms, conference halls and laboratories. Northern Coalfields CSR also develops playgrounds and supplies furniture and lab equipment to government schools.
17. Larsen & Toubro
Education CSR Spend: Rs. 22.69 crore
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.
18. Cadila Healthcare
Education CSR Spend: Rs. 21.55 crore
Cadila Healthcare has a wellness-oriented approach to corporate social responsibility, so some of the initiatives for education may overlap with health and wellness programmes. Either way, all the education programmes are clubbed under the ‘Shiksha’ chapter. Cadila makes Mid Day Meal contributions to the NGO, Akshaya Patra Foundation, for government primary schools in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The purpose is to eradicate malnourishment among rural children and ensure their retention in schools.
19. Hero Motocorp
Education CSR Spend: Rs. 20.33 crore
Hero Motocorp aces funding CSR in education because Team Hero works in tandem with the Indian government’s schemes to ensure barrier-free access to education. Most schools see 100% attendance, zero dropout rate and regular attendance from teachers as well. The CSR team’s partner organisations conduct remedial classes for students who cannot cope with the demands of the curriculum. These classes are helping students learn better and improve their performance across subjects. Likewise, through the ‘We Care’ remedial centres, the team ensures that girls do not drop out of schools due to community pressure and other socio-economic challenges.
Additionally, Hero Talent Search project focuses on supporting government school students who score more than 60% in academics and have the potential to do better if they enroll in free extra classes. The project started as a pilot in Jaipur, Rajasthan, and now supports hundreds of students who enthusiastically attended classes on weekends. The Midday meal programme supplies free lunches to children in primary and upper primary classes in government schools. As part of the global CSR programme WASH, there’s a special focus on inculcating the handwashing habit in young children especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
20. Grasim Industries
Education CSR Spend: Rs. 20.28 crore
Corporate social responsibility at Grasim Industries considers education a great leveller. The focus is on inclusive and equitable quality education. Through the schools in and around its facilities, the company provides quality education, scholarships, technical and vocational education to children. Grasim is educating almost 49,061 students through schools, scholarships, adult education programmes.
This list is important because funding CSR in education will help build the nation back better from the ravages of the pandemic and existing threats of poverty and unemployment.