Education

Why a solutions-focused approach to literacy is crucial for India – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is steadily evolving in India since the Companies Act, 2013. The Act brings CSR at the forefront as a mandate for companies with more than five crore rupees of annual profit. This initiative opened doors for many small and large Indian NGOs working towards literacy programs in the nation. But, the truth is many upcoming NGOs have not benefited from it due to lack of initiative, inconsequential understanding of the government CSR scenario, and no significant network.

In a recent session, D-talks, the Global Dream Literacy Forum, discussed solutions to this persisting problem. The focus of the discussion remained the crucial question — Why is that CSR-oriented companies focus only on established NGOs for funding?

D-Talks forum conducts tete-a-tete sessions where experts offer interested insights on improving the education landscape in India to help impart quality education to every young and old citizen of the nation.

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This recent discussion touched base with several relevant issues on the subject matter and brought forward the addendum that the corporate sector doesn’t prefer to take risks. Established organizations do not entrust their funding with new NGOs even if they have proven their mettle by running successful projects.

Several small NGOs display brilliant works; however, they are unable to sustain or expand due to a severe lack of funds and growing oversight by CSR funding initiatives. The talk also focused on building a sustainable relationship between corporate CSR and NGOs working towards literacy drive to build long term outcomes in translating into an overall meaningful impact.

The primary challenge faced by small NGOs is that CSR companies expect them to house an HR policy, thematic experts, and a track record to come across as a capable entity of implementing a sizable literacy project resulting in desired success.

Many implementing non-profit agencies do not have digital data to enable a funder not to think twice before engaging them. Additionally, small NGOs cannot deliver the maximum efficiency that corporate organizations expect, which in turn prevents CSR initiatives from visualizing a long-term relationship with them.

How can a change be brought about? Backed by my experience in the education scenario in the country, we can meet the gaps by implementing the following:

* Recognizing smaller players in the social change arena for impactful projects they have conducted

* Government must set an amount apart for the capacity building of NGOs * Education is a prolonged process and must be envisaged as long term partnership and not just funding

* Transparency and accountability must be in place while sticking to timelines

* The digitalisation of reports is imperative * NGOs must deliver success stories to the funders from time to time * Verified reports to be displayed on the NGOs website * NGOs’ social media presence to establish funder trust for a sustainable relationship

Working on innovative pedagogy and literacy, evidence and research, we’d would like to tell the NGOs that it is essential to maintain the dial of discussing transparency with the donor agency and have honest communication with a high level of integrity. You can also do capacity building with a lot of interaction. With the digital era, it’s easy to collect data and can be implemented throughout the process. The report must showcase improved results to gain the trust of the funding company.

We must achieve foundational literacy for everyone in India at the earliest. The government authorities must support the NGOs and spread awareness among the communities highlighting successful programs capable of making foundation literacy available for all.

Indian citizens must be made aware that complete literacy in the nation is achievable within two to three years. Moreover, this initiative is backed by the Global Dream initiative that managed to achieve literacy in 30 hours.

While contributing towards the betterment of society, college students must put a foot forward and volunteer service for at least a month to implement successful projects all over India. It is also a unique way forward in giving back to society and will result in a powerful impact.

While we are looking for a change, we must take a step forward and fuel that change. It is about time the corporate CSR starts achieved impactful work, not by the size of the NGO, but by the depth of change it.

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