Mumbai: With a view of tapping Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to improve school infrastructure, the Maharashtra government is mulling a proposal to have industries adopt state-run schools.
Under this scheme, the corporates will be given the responsibility of improving the infrastructure and other amenities of various schools for a period of five or 10 years as part of their social outreach. These schools could be named after their respective benefactors.
There are around 62,000 government schools, catering to around 50 lakh students across the state.
The proposal, mooted by the School Education Department, was approved on Tuesday by Finance Minister Ajit Pawar and is now awaiting a green signal from the Chief Minister and the state cabinet.
Announcing the initiative at an event in the city to award teachers on the occasion of National Teacher's Day, School Education Minister Deepak Kesarkar said, "There are a large number of industries in the state, which give their CSR funds to non-government organisations (NGOs), which in turn use them for various experimental projects at schools. However, many of the schools lack basic infrastructure such as paint and audio-visual equipment. Hence, the schools should get CSR money to improve their facilities."
Kesarkar added that the companies will be incentivised by letting them attach their name to the school's existing name. The government also hopes that a healthy competition among corporates and their adopted schools will prove to be beneficial to the state's public education sector.
Pawar, who also spoke at the event, said that the scheme will help the state retain part of CSR funds allocated by the industries based in Maharashtra. "Many corporates spend their CSR money outside the state, often in the hometowns of their executives. But if some of it is spent in Maharashtra, it will help improve the schools," he said.
Francis Joseph, a city-based educationist, wants the government to tread cautiously while seeking private funds for its education institutes. "For Public Private Partnership (PPP) to work, the government and the private entities need to be on the same page. There should be sufficient safeguards put in place to ensure that public resources are not exploited by the corporates. At the same time, the conditions for any pact between the two should be fair to corporations," he said.
The CSR funding can only be a temporary aid as it's affected by a number of factors including changing government policies and the health of the business. The government institutes should be able to stand on their own feet," Joseph added.