A decade after the Right to Education Act 2009, which made education free and compulsory for children between 6 and 14, India still struggles to provide basic primary education to all its children. Among them, girl children are the most neglected section as they already face discrimination in society, and a large section of society does not give importance to girls’ education. So the role of government gets increasingly more important as they not just have to educate girls but work towards alleviating their status in society. The government has been forming rules and launching programmers, but Private Players have recently started contributing through their CSR initiatives.
In a recent path-breaking move, Vedanta Ltd. has launched Project Panchhi, a talent acquisition program to recruit 1000 girls from remote areas in its operational zones across India. The metals, mining, and oil & Gas Company focuses on girls from marginalized communities who are underrepresented in these industries. The initiative aims to increase diversity in the company’s workforce while providing opportunities for young women to pursue higher education and professional careers.
The selected girls will be supported in their higher education at leading institutions and join Vedanta’s operations as graduate trainees after graduation. The program’s first phase began at Vedanta’s Alumina Refinery operations at Lanjigarh in Odisha, where 40 girls were identified. The Chairman of Vedanta, Anil Agarwal, expressed his confidence that Project Panchhi would give young girls wings to soar and enable them to empower themselves financially. Meanwhile, Ms Madhu Srivastava, Group CHRO of Vedanta, called Project Panchhi a unique initiative towards inclusive development aligned with the company’s vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Moreover, their initiative is not just based on completing the two per cent quota of their CSR expenditure, as the research they did behind this program is quite phenomenal.
Contribution by Non-Government Organizations
CSR initiatives by Private Companies and Non-government organizations are fast filling the gaps left by the government. For example, NGOs working for education provide early childhood care and child education to marginalized children. As per government estimates, NGOs that run child education programs have provided education to 3 to 20 million children in India. The programs include direct intervention in areas without government programs or to improve the quality of government programs. The initiative mentioned above by Vedanta Group is not one of its kind, as various leading corporates, such as Aditya Birla and Piramal Group, are taking up these initiatives and launching programs based on similar lines.
Finally, in a vast country such as India, relying on the government for every development task may be disappointing as providing the last mile solutions requires ground-level interactions and a lot of capital. However, the government, with its programs such as Anganwadi centres (courtyard shelters) across rural areas which provide health, nutrition, and education to children from minority groups and economically vulnerable groups, is doing what it can do. Still, there are many scopes for Self-help groups and private firms to play their role in filling the gap in the education sector.