A 2017 survey called the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), shows that more than half of the students in fifth grade are unable to read a second grade text book. This problem can be traced back to the alarmingly low number of children attending school in rural areas.
Children are either not going to school because they have to work, or dropping out due to absence of facilities like clean drinking water and washrooms and proper infrastructure. Low attendance of children is also a consequence of declining attendance of teachers and increasing instances of single classrooms being used to educate students from more than one grade. This problem occurs despite a national policy for compulsory primary education in India.
The problem is about more than getting children to go to school daily. This situation can potentially end up making another generation of India’s youth spend their lives pursuing conventional ‘occupations’ like farming or unstable jobs in their localities. Recognising the mass-scale penetration of the problem in the country, Coca-Cola India’s plan was to challenge the status quo.
That’s when back in 2011, ‘Coca-Cola NDTV Support My School’was launched, in collaboration with various partners, with the aim of filling opportunity gaps right from their childhood.
However, the Company realised that the execution of a country-wide project would require more than a plan to ensure its sustenance and scalability. That’s when Support My School started collaborating with District Education Officers, Panchayats, local elected officials, teachers, parents and community members.
With every school the project reached out to, the Company realised how the numerous partners have been contributing to the expansion of Support My School over the years. Coca-Cola India also collaborated with the Government of India when they launched the ‘Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya’ campaignin 2014.
From ensuring access to potable water to providing basic infrastructure like libraries and separate washrooms for male and female students, the Support My School movement triggered many changes. The expertise and domain knowledge of the various partners involved played a major role in transforming an initiative into a nation-wide campaign.
The project has helped increase enrolment in schools from 6.95 per cent (2013-14) to 14.77 per cent (2014-15). By 2015, Coca-Cola India was a lot closer to achieving its target of reaching 1000 schools across India, having benefited nearly 2 lakh students. Into its sixth year now, Support My School exemplifies how joining hands for a common cause can have a profound impact on our future-our children.