CHENNAI: Corporate contribution towards education can be the tool that could vastly improve the quality and penetration of education and literacy in the country – this was the almost unanimous verdict from speakers at the UNICEF and CII’s CSR Conclave on education that was held here on Wednesday. Using CSR initiatives as a tool to improve educational infrastructure, especially in backward areas, was the prime focus
With several eminent speakers from both academia and the corporate world speaking on the subject, the one theme that recurred was that corporate contributions to education could only be for the good. The infusions of capital, said speakers, would only serve to fast-track the advent of better educational infrastructure in the country. ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ was used as the new catchword to attract corporate workers towards contributing to society.
The first session of the conclave, which dealt with education and its relationship with sustainable development in particular, threw up several interesting observations from speakers. According to Madhavan, associate director of KPMG Advisory Services, who set the tone for the session, the enacting of the Right to Education Act, opens up several opportunities for the fast tracking of Indian education, and corporate, undoubtedly, could play a huge part in that.
“Now that the RTE has been enacted, the Indian government has made the right to education a fundamental right for every child. Free, compulsory and quality education though needs supporting infrastructure and that is one area where the CSR initiatives can address,” he said. This, he went on to say, was also an excellent opportunity for India to accelerate the process of achieving universal primary education and that it provided a great platform for the CSR initiatives to expand their educational development programme.
The conclave also had a session on investments in Education with several prominent members of the corporate community pointing out the issues and opportunities inherent in CSR in education – both for education institutions and corporate workers.
Among the prominent speakers at the conclave were M Anandakrishnan, Chairman of the board of governors, IIT-Kanpur, Aruna Rathnam, UNICEF India Education Specialist and N K Ranganath, Chairman of the CSR sub-committee of CII Southern Region.