Mr. Snout “R”, my snobbish colleague, had been staring at his laptop for hours. Quite an unusual sight as Mr. Snout often cunningly palmed off most jobs to us. What really was keeping him busy today? I had to ask him casually. “It is admission time in Delhi, and I am shortlisting schools for my kindergarten child, he said. Ah ha!! I thought to myself. There was Snout, doing his own things in office. “So what exactly are you looking for in a school?” I asked. Snout replied leaning back on his swirling chair, “Well it’s difficult to get everything in a school. It should have a balance of reputation, infrastructure, opportunity to excel and all basic facilities.” Oh well, this is probably the requirement of most urban parents in India. And every year parents put up quite a fight for those few precious seats in good schools, in an attempt to pave a bright future for their children.
AS I moved away from Snout, and back to my seat, I thought to myself. In contrast to this, the reality for our rural children remains pretty grim. A very large percentage of them cannot afford basic education. And those who do attend government run schools witness the lack of basic infrastructure, low quality in teaching and aids, lack of amenities like toilets, access to water and other basic facilities. This often leads to a high dropout rate or absenteeism in schools, especially among girls.
To tackle this problem, in January 2011 Coca-Cola India and NDTV launched the ‘Support My School’ (SMS) public service campaign in association with UN-Habitat, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and other partners. ‘Support My School’ is a public private partnership to empower underprivileged sections of society by providing the necessary water and sanitation facilities along with the basic infrastructure required in any school. ‘Support My School’ has been instrumental in focusing public attention on the state of affairs in rural schools in India.
Since its launch, several partners such as Plan India, World vision India, SRF Foundation and others has joined and strengthen the campaign. The campaign has raised funds and support resulting in revitalization over 600 schools across India into schools with clean and separate toilets for boys and girls. Other basic amenities such as playgrounds, sports facilities, and, above all, clean and sustainable sources of drinking water, have also been provided depending on requirement.
The campaign will now reach 1000 schools, in 23 states, benefitting 300,000 students. The initiative, which adds to the ongoing efforts of the Government, in realizing the ‘Swachh Bharat, Swacch Vidyalaya’ campaign, will also build barrier-free toilets for differently-abled children, going forward, thereby further deepening its impact.
On November 30th, 2015 celebrities such as Sourav Ganguly, Venkatesh Kini and Ranveer Singh came together for a 6-hour telethon with Vikram Chandra to raise funds for the Coca-Cola-NDTV Support My School campaign. They ended up raising Rs. 20 crores over the 6 hour show, which will now help the campaign revitalize 1,000 schools in 23 states, benefiting over 300,000 students in rural and semi-urban India. It would focus on providing (1) access to clean, drinking water (2) sanitation facilities for boys and girls (3) playgrounds and sports equipment (4) teaching aids including library and computer facilities. In Madhya Pradesh alone 5427 students are benefitting from this initiative in 21 govt. schools.
Glad there is an attempt to revitalize neglected schools across the nation and curtail the number