There is no dearth of young talent in India, however, due to lack of financial support, lakhs of students are unable to pursue their interest and talent. They drop-out from formal education system due to varied reasons, bringing the higher education GER in India down to 22. The CSR policy of Indian Corporate Community is changing the avenues of CSR Education initiatives to tackle this situation.
Post 1 April 2014, with CSR policy in place, many corporations, such as Indian Oil, HUL, L’Oreal India, Marubeni, DLF, have started supporting meritorious, underprivileged students with CSR Education scholarships. Going by the trend, these scholarship programs have garnered a positive response from all education stakeholders i.e. students, parents, teachers, institutions, education ministers etc.
CSR Education: Why do we need corporate scholarships?
Empowerment of education: Organizations these days choose scholarships as their CSR Education initiatives to promote education among underprivileged children, who cannot afford to pursue formal education.
Customizability: Scholarships can be aligned with the mission and vision of the organization. Timeline, eligibility of awardees, amount of scholarship, disbursement, everything is customizable.
Trust building with the target customer: Funding education being the basic need of building a developed nation, channelling CSR Education through scholarship initiatives helps organizations build a stronger bond with their target group. L’Oreal India, with a large female clientele, has a scholarship program that supports girls with an aspiration to make a career in the science field.
Loyal employees: In the long run, the supported students can be nurtured to become an asset for the organization. They can be absorbed within organization with employment and be trusted to work efficiently, eventually building a better future for them.
Mentor for next scholar: After the scholars complete the course of education leveraging the scholarship, they can mentor and motivate more scholars. The benefited students can guide the next lineage of meritorious students through the application process and help them pursue education. A new scholar community would be created by helping each other. Isn’t this what CSR Education and Education Philanthropy all about?
CSR Education Challenges for providers
While scholarships come with innumerable benefits for the society, they also pose a number of challenges for the organization launching them. Some of the challenges include:
Promotion of scholarship: Just launching a scholarship is not enough. It needs ample promotion, both online and offline. Without channelling a huge investment for promotions, the initiative tends to fail to get the relevant traction. This might lead to extended budgets and under-utilization of the funds.
Technological support: A scholarship initiative that is backed by technology is beneficial for both the stakeholders, seeker as well as the provider. Since technology is ever-evolving, developing the right platform is a time taking and expensive process. Success of any CSR Education Initiative is directly proportional to the technology that enables it.
Monitoring of scholarship fund: A mechanism needs to be put in place to check whether the allocated funds have reached the right scholars and are being utilized well for education purpose. It is difficult for an organization to monitor it. There have been cases, where scholarship awards get misused for non-educational purposes. If CSR Education has to really enable to the development of nation, it has to reach the right seekers.
Setting up a team: Scholarship involves multiple stages starting from planning to disbursal of funds. To ensure smooth functioning in a transparent and accountable manner, organizations need to set up teams with wide understanding and skillsets. Managing human resource, dedicated to this purpose becomes a tedious task and often ends up becoming a huge liability.
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