“Good quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies.” – Desmond Tutu. How education implication could affect the corporate world is an important issue concerning the giants of the blues world.
I am sure most of us have heard or read about The Companies Act, 2013. The section of this Act that is more popular among people deals with Corporate Social Responsibility.
Under this, the government of India has made it mandatory for companies to spend 2 percent of their three-year average annual net profit on CSR activities in each financial year, starting from Financial Year 2015. The law applies to companies having at least Rs.5 crore net profit or a turnover of Rs.1000 crore or net worth of Rs.500 crore.
The Act also gives the corporates various choices of sectors to invest in. Among the ten available sectors, “Promotion of education” currently receives the highest fund allocation by companies. And why shouldn’t it? After all, education is an enabler, which has a ripple effect on so many other aspects.
I am not saying other sectors should get lower funding, but imagine educating someone. He can not only make his own life better but also of those he comes in contact with, be it his family, friends, colleagues or the society at large.
This one sector, if improved, automatically improves some other sectors under the CSR mandate such as promoting gender equality, women empowerment, environmental sustainability, and protection of national heritage.
How education implication has wide implications on a different aspect
1. Social implications
Education implication sensitizes young minds on critical issues such as discrimination based on gender, caste, color, income levels, etc. I still abide by the value-based education I received in school!!
Few perks of education implication
Educated women can stand up for themselves against anti-social elements like dowry, the gender wage gap, molestation, domestic violence, sexual harassment at the workplace.
It also builds a rational mindset, which is free from superstitions and pseudo-scientific biases.
It hugely reduces the societal burden of theft, rape, con-men, beggary, organized crime, drug dealing, fraud, human trafficking, and terrorism.
An educated student has greater chances of leading a healthier lifestyle and staying away from chewing tobacco, smoking, consuming drugs and becoming a burden to his family and society.
Education helps bridge the gap between genders, castes, incomes, regions, and religions.
It acts as a helping hand to the government who always ends up allocating lesser than the required funds to this sector (currently around 3% of the GDP as opposed to 6% recommended by Kothari Commission).
I can already imagine a social utopia! And it just keeps getting better as we enter the political arena.
2. Political implications
We often complain about our politicians not being educated enough and coming from a criminal background. What can be done about this? The simple solution to this lies in education. This is another education implication we have.
Politicians are a product of the society and an educated society will give birth to educated politicians.
A well-educated policymaker understands the importance of education and makes laws in that direction, further taking the sector in the right direction.
Educated policymakers fight and debate on issues that are relevant to the masses – employment, economy, social welfare, international relations, farmer problems, environmental degradation, gender issues, hunger, poverty, etc.
A nation’s true strength lies in its economic clout and investing in education goes a long way in building this clout.
3. Economic implications
If we look at the developed nations of today, one similarity we find is their high percentage of the educated population. How are all their politicians so educated? Why are all the top universities in the world located there? There is a direct relationship between education levels and economic growth. For India to become an economic superpower, it must divert more energies toward education. Education is the base of every nation’s growth pyramid and unless it is strengthened, the future growth is imbalanced.
NSSO estimates that 85% of the Indian population is employed in the informal sector. Thus, there is a huge scope of formalizing the Indian economy.
The “job problem” in India is not only unemployment but also of unemployability due to poor education standards. To produce a talented workforce, it becomes imperative to improve the quality of education.
India is a victim of “brain-drain” i.e. talented minds leaving the nation for foreign opportunities. A primary reason for that is the lack of world-class institutes for higher education in India.
All is fine till now, but the icing on the cake would be protecting the degrading environment and investing in education can do just that!
4. Environmental implications
I am a hardcore environmentalist. No, not the kind to hug trees and fast unto death to prevent mining outside my house, but I am aware and responsible towards it.
Due to the teachings, I received about our nature at an early age, I am still conscious about littering, keeping the lights and water tap on, and being kind towards animals.
I am aware of industrial pollution destroying our water bodies and the air that we inhale.
I am also the one to be surprised when world leaders deny Climate Change and Global Warming, something which I learned in grade 8!!
Human-caused species extinction pains me.
The pollution of the Ganga troubles me.
I am sensitized by the perils of fossil fuel burning.
The repairing of the Ozone layer due to the Montreal protocol pleases me.
Tesla making electric vehicles excites me.
Seeing windmills on unexpected road trips amazes me.
Reading about the government’s target to increase its solar generating capacity fills me with hope.
I want every citizen of this world to feel this to protect our only home, and education is the easiest path towards imbibing this feeling.
Now, what’s in it for the companies?
1. Monetary returns
Companies such as ITC advertise on their stationery items that a certain part of their revenues would be invested in education. Some others like Tata, Wipro, Reliance, L&T, and Asian Paints invest heavily in various education programs. This builds goodwill among consumers, leading to increased sales of company products.
2. Flourished business
A well-educated and developed society with little socio-political instability is always good for business. Ever wondered why the war-torn nations of the Middle East have little industrial development and no big global businesses?
3. Brand Equity
Employees prefer working for companies that have a positive brand image and this attracts the right talent. Happy employees further lead to happy consumers.
4. Skilled employees
They get a talented workforce in the form of an educated and skilled pool of applicants. As the brain drain from India stops, it is left for the Indian corporates to absorb.
As income levels of consumers rise, the demand for the company’s products also increases.
When investors see the company has met or surpassed its CSR targets, it boosts their confidence.
The demographic dividend of India if properly educated can become a boon to the country and the world, and if not it can turn into a burden.
Finally, how can companies direct their investments in education?
The plethora of options to improve the status of education in India:
1. Improve the infrastructures such as classrooms, hygienic toilets, playgrounds, and school buses.
2. Set up Digital classrooms with smart boards and internet connection.
3. Classrooms can have cameras to promote the child’s rights policy and protect the child against harassment.
4. Companies can establish science laboratories and incubation centers. When it comes to higher education, they can invest heavily in research and development.
5. Companies can provide App-based learning modules for students as well as teachers.
6. They can also grant fellowships and scholarships for the bright and underprivileged.
7. Mentoring and career counseling of students to guide them on the right path.
8. Providing skill development to make them industry-ready as they know what the industry demands are.
So, what’s the wait for? The next financial year is just around the corner.