Updated March 28th, 2024 at 00:49 IST

Beyond Jobs: Corporate investments in children education goes up 19%

Bal Raksha Bharat has raised Rs 229 crore in 2023 from multinational conglomerates like P&G and Synopsys, partnering for better education initiatives

Reported by: Gauri Joshi
Education for Children | Image:Flickr
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Responsibility for growth: Corporate funding for child welfare has gone up 19 per cent, impacting the lives of close to 14 lakh children in 2023, data shared by Bal Raksha Bharat reveals.

The 106-year old foundation, which enables Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives for corporates, also saw a 7 per cent jump in institutional funding, indicating an increase in the intent for impacting children’s lives through them.

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The Scenario of Corporate Social Responsibility in India

As part of Corporate citizenship in India, the 2013 Companies Act by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs mandates for profitable enterprises to spend 2 per cent of their profit over the past three years in social welfare.

Companies which have either Rs 5 crore in net profits, Rs 500 crore in net worth or Rs 1,000 crore in turnover are part of the bracket as per the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

As per the Ministry data, companies spent Rs 26,278.81 crore across 40 states and Union Territories in 14 sectors in the 2021-22 fiscal.

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 Republic Business spoke to American consumer goods major Procter and Gamble, and semiconductor design company Synopsys about their initiatives for child welfare, especially pertaining to education initiatives in Rajasthan and Assam.

Empowering Education for the Girl Child

Procter and Gamble, which started its India operations in 1967, operates in about 49 blocks across seven districts of Rajasthan for initiatives in female education.

“We have about 50 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBVs), and about 35-36 schools additionally which we are a part of, impacting the lives of around 7,000 girls,” Enakshee Deva, Head of Corporate Communications and CSR at Procter and Gamble India told Republic Business.

The company has been working towards educational initiatives for CSR for the past 18 to 19 years, launching P&G Shiksha as a flagship program to provide children from underprivileged backgrounds access to holistic education.

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Looking at the data back then where the need of the hour was to provide access to schools since the schools to child ratio was completely skewed, was how we started working on Shiksha for constructing schools and providing access to underserved communities with school facilities, she added.

The program has now expanded to enhance the quality of education beyond concrete infrastructure, as part of a three-pronged approach  for improving learning outcomes and empowering marginalised communities.

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When asked about how their partnership with Bal Raksha Bharat has supported this cause, Deva said the organisation helped them with network and community association in the cause.

We started our association with Bal Raksha Bharat with a program on learning outcomes for girls in Rajasthan specifically, which focused on improving their learning, getting the focus on foundational language and mathematics learning outcomes, as well as working with the community around to mobilize and get more girls into schools,” she said.

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Bal Raksha Bharat, which was known as Save the Children before, has been in partnership with P&G for their educational initiatives for girl children since 2011.

The association has given way to STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) labs which is inculcating scientific curiosity in girls at a young age.

There are about more than 40 per cent STEM graduates in India, but they don't make it to these jobs, Deva said, adding that only 14 per cent of the Indian workforce has a representation of women. 

In the juxtaposition of having awareness around courses like engineering versus having a scientific temper for areas like STEM, Deva said the starting point for initiating these courses was to inculcate scientific curiosity in young girls for them to see themselves for the long term in a career in this field

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But apart from empowering them with learning skills, the endeavour has also played a role in driving awareness with these girls on their own rights and building their confidence to have a say, which has taught them to approach the right authorities to speak up for themselves.

In terms of impact, Deva shared the proportion of girls who are able to perform at grade level in subjects like mathematics has jumped quarter-fold from 25 to 99 per cent. 

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The partnership has ensured innovation with compliance, Deva added.

Taking STEM Education to India’s Corners

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs in 2023 issued a notification to highlight the regional disparity in CSR contributions, with only 1 per cent of them going to the seven North East states combined.

American chipmaker Synopsys Inc's Indian arm, Synopsys India chose Assam’s Darrang for developing STEM labs in 10 districts of these schools. 

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Darrang, being an aspirational district marked by NITI Aayog, and Bal Raksha Bharat was involved in the North East, Synopsys as a science and technology company implemented the project in line with CSR linked to Business.

Bal Raksha Bharat helped Synopsys in Business Continuity Process and due diligence for taking the partnership to the tough terrains and unpredictable weather conditions in the region, according to Bijay Chowdhury, Group Head - CSR and Philanthropy (Asia Pacific) · Synopsys Inc.

“This project was not just a checklist for us, and this is not just a one-year partnership. The next year already we have the discussions going on in the same schools. The schools will be transformed and refurbishment activities will be taking place for infrastructure and waste segregation,” he emphasised.

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The company is training 2,000 students and providing them with exposure to science and technology as part of the partnership. This also aligns to provisions of the National Education Policy’s emphasis on skilling people and getting employable skillsets. 

Synopsys said it has invested approximately $950,000 into CSR initiatives in India this year, with an outlay to increase to over 10 million with an addition of 10-15 per cent by 2025.

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Pertaining to investments in the project with Bal Raksha Bharat, they stand at Rs 45 lakh, Chowdhury outlined. 

The process, Chowdhury said, is streamlined in terms of creating a scientific environment in  schools, followed by strengthening the infrastructure of the 10 schools in the next year.

By the time the partnership reaches its culmination, the schools “have a different shape altogether as compared to what it was before we intervened with Bal Raksha Bharat,” he added.

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Beyond Assam, Synopsys is carrying out CSR operations in regions where it has its established offices - namely Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Noida, and Delhi.

The company also has employee volunteering initiatives every week for employees and their families to be part of bigger change as part of the process, Chowdhury said.

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Towards Viksit Bharat 2047

Continuous education, despite calamities like the pandemic-induced lockdown and natural calamities in prone regions of the North East, calls for investing in children's capability and access to technology.  

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Bal Raksha Bharat has raised Rs 229 crore in 2023 from multinational conglomerates like P&G and Synopsys, partnering for better education to children in Rajasthan, and Assam respectively

Sudarshan Suchi, CEO for Bal Raksha Bharat said that as part of their initiatives, corporates have shown big trust in the wisdom based on their conceptualisation, and creating a proof of concept “in a place where normally nobody else would step in.”  

The CSR veteran, who has 37 years of experience in the field, elaborated how corporates tend to look at interventions from the perspective of projects, and from the perspective of profits and balance sheet.

As a corporate foundation, Suchi said, Bal Raksha Bharat has built a ground presence credibility and relationships to build a backup of knowledge systems, the product services, and complex intervention designs

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This perspective is broadened from a calendar year activity to long-term impact after the partnership expands to a couple of years.

Bal Raksha Bharat has engaged with 10 lakh children till March 31, 2023 and has already provided interventions for 5 lakh children by February this year.

Even as their reach is more than impact, Suchi said impact takes more time since it is a lifelong journey. 

“One of the biggest challenges in most development interventions has been about collective impact at a certain scale, because when you look at the larger country situation, that scale also impacts the overall context,” he said.

Speaking on P&G’s partnership for female education in Rajasthan, Suchi said it fits into the picture of Viksit Bharat 2047 when disruptive developments happen by way of accelerated growth.

“Because it's not about installing a smart board or STEM education, it's about unlocking limitless potential in those girls. They are not going to stop when we stop, because the whole system and the method are accessible to them,” he said.

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Published March 21st, 2024 at 15:25 IST