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, 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 could turn things around with targetted and strategic interventions. On Children’s Day 2021, we present the top CSR projects that are already improving the lives of rural children, and in effect, the future of our nation and the world.
Top CSR Projects for Rural Children
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.