In India, we often bemoan that the youth is unemployable and kids studying in 10th do not know even basic English and other subjects knowledge is equally zero. But the blame lay on lack of teachers. Children living in remote villages have Govt schools but rarely do they have teachers; no one wants to take a posting in a remote village and the victims are the children.
Ashok Leyland is trying to correct this in its small way. It has launched its Road to School programme where the task is to improve learning levels in 153 government schools in and around Hosur, Namakkal and even in suburban Chennai. The company works with the principals of these schools to screen the children and identify those lagging behind either due to inadequate teacher attention or due to learning disabilities and conduct remedial classes during school hours right within the school premises.
It commissioned Boston Consulting Group to research the subject. The next step was to identify a partner who would implement Leyland’s strategy in the identified schools. NGOs were the obvious choice and Delhi-based Learning Links Foundation (LLF) was chosen through a competitive bid that was evaluated by a committee.
LLF would employ resource persons (teachers, in another name) from the same area who would teach the children picked up for remedial learning in the three subjects of English, Tamil and Mathematics. LLF is reimbursed all costs, including the salary of the resource persons of around Rs.15,000-20,000 per month, teaching materials etc. and a service fee.
As an added incentive to the parents and children, Leyland has recently started providing breakfast to the kids comprising of bread, bun and cookies. Drop out rates have almost come down to nil after this initiative. The children are provided lunch under the government’s mid-day meal scheme. On the Govt’s part, children do get free uniforms, books, note books and even school bags though no one has been able to ensure that teachers stay and teach.
If more and more companies take such initiatives, surely we will have a very empowered India!