As many as 64% of the children in rural India fear they might have to drop out of school if not provided with additional support to cope with the learning gaps in their curriculum, according to a survey published by Delhi-based NGO ChildFund India. Children from rural areas and urban slums, scheduled castes and tribal communities suffer from multiple deprivations.
According to UNICEF, High levels of malnutrition (38.4% children are stunted), poor learning outcomes (only 42.5% children in grade three can read a grade one text), vaccine preventable diseases and child labour persist.
India has the largest adolescent population in the world, 253 million, and every fifth person is between 10 to 19 years. India stands to benefit socially, politically and economically if this large number of adolescents are safe, healthy, educated and equipped with information and life skills to support the country’s continued development.
Government bodies and CSR of private companies and PSUs could turn things around with targeted and strategic interventions. On Children’s Day 2023, we present the top CSR projects that are aimed at improving the lives of children in rural areas and urban slums, and in effect, the future of our nation and the world. These include supporting healthcare, education, nutrition and other needs of underprivileged children in different parts of India.
Coal India Limited’s Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana
Fortis Healthcare has joined hands with Coal India Limited (CIL) to treat underprivileged children suffering from thalassemia, under CIL’s flagship CSR Initiative ‘Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana’. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for this partnership was signed on July 28th 2023 at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, in the presence of Renu Chaturvedi, General Manager (CSR), Coal India, Shobha Tuli, Secretary, Thalassemics India, Anil Vinayak, Group COO, Fortis Healthcare, Dr Rahul Bhargava, Principal Director of Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Fortis Gurugram and other senior dignitaries from Fortis.
In 2017, Coal India had launched ‘Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana’ to support the treatment of underprivileged children affected by Thalassemia. Later in 2020 Aplastic Anemia was also added under the programme.
As per the MoU, financial assistance of up to Rs. 10 lakhs will be provided by Coal India Limited to eligible patients for bone marrow transplants and the treatment can be done at Fortis Hospital, Gurugram. Fortis Memorial Research Institute, has one of the largest and most comprehensive BMT centres in the country with an experienced team of nearly 20 doctors, who have expertise in treatment of all kinds of blood disorders and also perform complicated Bone Marrow Transplants.
Gland Pharma’s Free Breakfast Programme in Telangana
In November 2019, Gland Pharma launched a first-of-its-kind ‘Free Breakfast Scheme’ for nearly 9100 children of 66 government-run schools around our manufacturing facilities in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. These children begin their day with a nutritious breakfast prepared hygienically and supplied by Akshaya Patra Foundation.
This programme was started on 14th November 2019 (Chidlren’s Day). It began with feeding about 7000 children and now they are serving more than 16,000 children from 83 government schools along with 350 beneficiaries of 10 Anganwadi centres in Hyderabad. Of these, 43 schools are in Hyderabad, 40 are in Vishakhapatnam. In these Anganwadi centres, 3-6 year-old pre-school children, pregnant and lactating mothers are the beneficiaries.
Akshaya Patra Foundation, who is the implementing partner for this project, has huge community kitchens in Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam. They have specialised vehicles to convey these meals in hot and hygienic condition to all the beneficiaries.
CSR of Bharat Petroleum
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, a leading ‘Maharatna’ and Fortune Global 500 Company, announced its support for a significant healthcare initiative aimed at profoundly deaf children in Maharashtra in July this year. As part of its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), BPCL has partnered with the Indorewala Memorial Educational & Medical Institute & Research Centre (IMEMIRC) to provide cochlear implantation surgeries for 30 underprivileged children in the state.
Cochlear implantation is a procedure that enhances hearing for individuals who have experienced inner-ear damage and are unable to benefit from external hearing aids. The programme led by IMEMIRC is dedicated to offering early intervention and prevention of hearing loss among economically disadvantaged children who are born deaf.
In February this year, BPCL announced partnership with Sri Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals and enabled free of cost child heart surgeries for needy children with Congenital Heart Disease. BPCL, under their CSR initiatives, carried out this annual campaign on Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day.
Over 4100+ children have benefited from the project and they are expected to treat 9000-12000 children by next year. BPCL has provided all critical medical equipment for the hospital in Mumbai and now pledged to treat 150 underprivileged children who would be treated totally free at Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals in Haryana and Chhattisgarh.
More than 24,000 children from the economically backward families have been treated by the hospitals, since they started, the company announced.
HCL Foundation and Tamil Nadu Police’s partnership for children in urban slums
HCL Foundation, which delivers the corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda of HCL Tech in India, and Tamil Nadu Police announced in August this year that they have extended their partnership to empower children living in urban slums. The collaborative effort, which began in 2011, has been extended till 2026. The initiative seeks to bring about a positive impact in children residing in urban slums across the Avadi, Chennai and Tambaram Commissionerates through the Police Boys & Girls Club, addressing critical societal challenges and fostering sustainable development for marginalised communities.
The project will be implemented across 29 slum communities, benefiting 25,000 children residing in the North and South Chennai areas. This initiative aims to offer a holistic platform for disadvantaged children, providing them with a nurturing environment. The initiative’s key focus areas include after-school and digital education, support services, sports, health, environment, scouts and guides and advocacy for child rights.
Children inhabiting these urban enclaves encounter unique psychosocial challenges, compounded by the intrinsic hurdles of childhood and adolescence. Research shows that concentrated poverty within neighbourhoods substantially restricts opportunities for social interaction, access to positive role models and essential resources such as quality education, healthcare facilities, parks and playgrounds – all crucial components for fostering robust child development.
CSR of SBI General for children with pediatric cancer
SBI General, one of India’s leading General Insurance companies announced in February this year that it has joined hands with Cuddles Foundation to support pediatric cancer patients. SBI General Insurance supports the Food Heals Program by Cuddles Foundation in Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre for pediatric patients in Madurai.
The programme aims to provide counselling, diet planning, caregiver support, nutritional meals and supplements to 250 pediatric cancer patients for a duration of 3 months. The programme focuses on providing counselling and diet planning where nutritionists assess a child’s grade of malnourishment, plan diets and monitors progress. Basis this they are then aided with food and supplements like nutritional supplements, hot meals, in-meal supplements.
This programme also provides caregiver support to patient families with the knowledge to make healthier food choices by organising parent support group meetings, videos, educational talks and more.
CSR of SECL for students in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
SECL’s area of operation being Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the PSU company has taken initiatives to develop education infrastructure in government schools in Chhattisgarh by renovating and rebuilding schools, building hostels, developing smart-classes and providing desk and benches for the students.
With SECL’s CSR support, smart classes have been set-up in 500 government schools of Korba district at an expenditure of about Rs 9 crore through the District Collector of Korba.
The beneficiaries are mainly children belonging to tribal areas and underprivileged background. At least 113 smart classes have been developed through the district administration Raigarh in government schools built within 25 km radius of SECL’s office in Raigarh district. Apart from this, 83 smart-class facilities have been developed in schools in Raigarh, Dharamjaigarh, and Kharsia tehsils of Raigarh district.
SECL has recently announced that it will provide free residential medical coaching to students of Class 12th under its CSR initiative, “SECL ke Sushrut”. The company will mentor and provide coaching to students to help them prepare for the national medical entrance exam – NEET.
The move is expected to benefit students from poor economic background, especially in villages in coal belt areas of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Under the programme, coaching will be provided to a total batch of 35 students in partnership with a Bilaspur-based private coaching institute. The programme will be residential with regular national-level test series and mentoring and will include lodging and boarding facilities.
CSR of Philips India for free medical assistance to kids
Philips India announced partnership with Rotary Bangalore Indiranagar in July this year for providing free medical assistance, surgery, and post-surgical care to 300 underprivileged children in the age group of 2-12 years by the end of 2023.
The collaboration seeks to address the critical need for quality healthcare and ensure access to essential cardiac care services for children from low-income families. Philips and Rotary Bangalore Indiranagar are already in partnership with Jayadeva Hospital, Manipal Hospitals, and Fortis Hospitals in Bengaluru to conduct these surgeries at a subsidized cost.
In India, the estimated number of children born with congenital heart defects (CHD) is over 200,000 per year. Over 70,000 are diagnosed with critical CHD and need specialised medical intervention even before they are one year old. This inherited heart muscle problem can result in sudden death or progressive heart failure. Awareness amongst the underprivileged about genetic cardiomyopathy is also low.
Xiaomi India’s scholarship programme for sports and academics
Xiaomi India, leading smartphone and smart TV brand announced its partnership with the Virender Sehwag Foundation (VSF) for a scholarship programme in September, this year. The programme aims to provide financial aid to underprivileged children for access to quality education in sports and academics. With a special emphasis on sports, the partnership is dedicated to identifying and nurturing sporting talent among underprivileged children. The scholarship programme will support children by providing access to adequate sporting infrastructure and equipment, allowing them to hone their skills and talent. By providing the necessary financial assistance and infrastructure, the programme aims to create opportunities for young athletes to excel in their chosen sports and potentially represent the nation at various levels of competition.
The scholarship will also cover expenses related to school fees, books, pens, uniforms, as well as. To avoid dropouts, the scholarship would be paid at the beginning of the academic year itself..
RR Kabel’s Star Scholarship Programme for children of electricians
RR Kabel Limited, one of the leading wire and cable manufacturer and electrical solutions company in India, announced its latest edition of the RR Kabel Star Scholarship Programme in June this year. The programme, that was rolled out in 2022 is aimed at empowering and helping the children of electricians in India. The company claims that more than 1,000 students were awarded scholarships of more than Rs.1 crore across India in the last one year.
The RR Kabel Star Scholarship Programme is for those electricians’ children who have passed their 10th grade exams this year and are pursuing their higher secondary education. The criteria for applying for this scholarship is that the students must have cleared their exams in the first attempt and their parent should be registered as an electrician on the RR Connect app. Top 1,000 students amongst the applicants will be selected and given a scholarship of Rs. 10,000 each. The applications for this year will go live in June 2023.
CSR of CapitaLand Group for school children in Karnataka
CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand Group (CapitaLand), is collaborating with Pratham Education Foundation to pilot the latter’s holistic learning programme “Hamara Gaon” in 12 more underserved communities in Karnataka state where the children of the two schools supported under the CapitaLand Hope School Programme are from. CHF has committed to kick-start the programme with a donation of S$108,000 (INR 6.5 million) to support the first year’s funding. The funding will also support the ongoing programme in 50 communities located across Devanahalli and Kolar districts, they announced.
Over three days from 28 to 30 October 2023, more than 50 CapitaLand staff volunteers from six countries – India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, United Kingdom and Vietnam – decorated the school classrooms and common areas with hand-painted wall murals, enhanced the play area with a sandpit, and added more shelves and books in the reading room. They also organised CapitaLand’s “Little Architect Programme” workshops to broaden the students’ knowledge and interest in architecture, sparking their imagination and creativity.
Government Kannada and English Medium Higher Primary School is one of three schools in India under the CapitaLand Hope School Programme. The other two are Government Hi-Tech Kannada and English Medium Higher Primary School, also in Bangalore, and Government Marathi Medium Higher Primary School, in Pune.
CSR of Sami-Sabinsa Group for mid-day meal in Bengaluru
Sami-Sabinsa Group, the multi-national health science company headquartered in Bengaluru, through its philanthropic arm, the Dr. Majeed Foundation, donated Rs. 50 lakhs to The Akshaya Patra Foundation. The contribution will help support and provide mid-day meals to the less fortunate school children in and around Bengaluru.
To commemorate the activity, Dr. Anju Majeed, Director, Sami-Sabinsa Group, along with Mr. Anant Arora, Chief Sustainability and Communication Officer, Akshaya Patra, flagged off the meal distribution vehicle in October in Bengaluru, Karnataka. From their kitchen at Rajaji Nagar, Akshaya Patra feeds about 75,000 schoolchildren, covering 477 schools.
Larsen & Toubro’s Vidya
Without causing any break in the education of rural underprivileged kids during the pandemic, Larsen & Toubro Public Charitable Trust (LTPCT) has taken education at the doorsteps of underprivileged children in rural areas across multiple states through its flagship CSR programme ‘Vidya’.
As the pandemic has forced India’s schooling system into a digital divide, Larsen & Toubro’s charitable trust has collaborated with SAP’s CODE Unnati – a corporate-to-citizen, digital literacy and IT skills development initiative by SAP India through community and parental engagement model. NGOs Pratham Education Foundation and Agastya Foundation, joined hands in conducting digital educational activities and science education programmes.
Project Vidya conducted online summer camps, special radio programmes for tribal students in the hinterlands of Talasari, a tribal block in Palghar district of Maharashtra. It also conducted online classes for class 10th students in Gujarat and engaged in innovative science education in Talasari, Ahmednagar, Talegaon in Maharashtra, Kharel, Navsari, Hazira, Surat, Vadodara in Gujarat, Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Faridabad in Haryana as well as Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
Vidya leveraged on the parental engagement in Talasari. This model involves appointing ‘Cluster Resource Persons’ (CRP) and Sancharaks, who are either mothers or young graduates from the same community, trained in early childhood content, parenting, counseling and digital education. They are assigned families in the area to whom they provide support through calls and home visits. The CRPs, Sancharaks connected with the students and local community through WhatsApp groups and conducted digital summer camps.
ITC’s Primary Education Programme
Working among the lower income communities around its operations across India, ITC’s Primary Education Programme with versatile teaching approaches of playing and learning is encouraging children to come to school, thereby stemming dropout rates and improving learning outcomes.
To create an atmosphere conducive to learning, the CSR programme provides infrastructural support to government primary schools – desks and chairs, lights and fans, classrooms and other structural improvements, textbooks and notebooks, sports kits, etc. Sanitation infrastructure is a top priority – separate toilets for boys and girls, drinking water and handwashing stations, etc – are backed by a proactive approach to developing hygienic habits among children.
To make learning more stimulating, ITC’s Primary Education Programme partners with education providers to introduce modern teaching and assessment methods that help children to achieve higher learning levels and better results. For example, Read India Plus in partnership with the NGO Pratham focuses on enhancing reading and mathematical ability among 6-14 year olds. Supplementary Learning Centres in villages provide coaching to help weak students keep up in school and drop-outs to return to the school system.
IIFL Group upgrading Maa Baadi centres
IIFL Foundation, the CSR arm of diversified financial conglomerate IIFL Group, is collaborating with the Government of Rajasthan for transforming Maa Baadi centres as a ‘Child Friendly Model Maa Baadi Centres’ for over 1500 children.
Maa Baadi centres governed by SWACH Project are an undertaking of Tribal Area Development Dept. (TAD), Government of Rajasthan. In its first phase, IIFL Foundation is redeveloping Maa Baadi centres located Udaipur (Sarada Block) and Pali (Bali block). The foundation is also conducting repair of the structure, improving sanitation facility, and building play area for students.
The CSR initiative aims to enhance the academic learning of the students through introduction of ‘Digital Tools’ (Multimedia based teaching over TV & Android Tablet), access to healthy sanitation facility, development of play area and upgrading Maa Baadi as a ‘Green Structure’ through installation of solar panels. On occasion of Gandhi Jayanti 2021, the ‘Model Maa Baadi’ centre developed at Kharbar panchayat, at Sarada block of Udaipur was handed over to the department upon upgradation.
Vedanta Nand Ghar
Nand Ghars are a transformative leap dedicated to benefit rural children and women in India. A measure undertaken by Vedanta under the Anil Agarwal Foundation Initiative, together with the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), the project aims to ensure that rural India is not left behind in India’s march towards progress.
The infrastructure is being utilized in the morning for children’s education and nutrition and in the afternoon for skill development of women. Today there are more than 2300 Nand Ghars are running across 11 states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Odisha.
Tata Motors addresses malnutrition
A unique partnership and convergence model was developed to address undernourishment, by improving health and nutrition, among children in these villages around Sanand (Gujarat) by focusing on their health and nutrition, and educating mothers on nutrition and hygiene. The project was planned and executed by Tata Motors under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme of the Government. Its implementing partner, Manav Seva Trust was given the primary responsibility of building a rapport with the mothers of malnourished children.
Representatives made home visits during cooking hours when information was shared on healthy and nutritious food practices. The focused approach of the intervention ensured that children attended aganwadis during the day where they were fed five nutritious meals a week, which brought about a quick recovery in their health status. Mothers now have better understanding of the components of a nutritious meal, besides having acquired new cooking skills and knowledge on hygiene.