Friday, May 5

Hope for Primary Education

As the state abdicated its responsibility to provide primary education a glimmer of hope has shone through thanks to corporate sector coming forward to fulfill its social obligation. The dismal primary education scene in Punjab has got the attention of a family with Ludhiana roots-Mittal brothers. In a strong signal for other corporate groups the Mittals -Rakesh, Sunil and Rajan - have pledged Rs 200 crore from their personal wealth to set up primary schools in villages across the country.
Beginning with Ludhiana a few hundred primary schools will be opened up in the next 18 to 24 months all over the country. Bharti enterprises is already talking with panchayats in Ludhiana and around to get the land or appropriate buildings to set up the schools.
The initiative, to be carried out through the Bharti Foundation, will provide mid-day meals, uniforms and one computer will be provided at no cost to each student. The students will have to pay Rs 10 a month to learn at the schools. This "nominal" charge is also to be returned in the form of scholarships. Special focus would be given to disabled children and girls. The schools would be up to class V and state board curriculum would be followed. This would also provide employment to the women in the village who would be engaged to prepare the mid-day meal scheme.
Every Bharti school will house 75 to 150 students in a one-, two- or three-room setup for which land is to be donated or leased out at lower prices by village panchayats. Bharti's partners and suppliers like Warburg Pincus and IBM have also pledged $1 million each to the foundation. The foundation, which will focus mainly on spreading education in villages and small towns, has 13-member governing board headed by BE CMD Sunil Mittal. The bulk of Rs 200 crore has come from BE promoters including its vice chairman Rakesh Mittal and JMD Rajan Mittal. The board includes other prominent industrialists like Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman of Hero Corporate Services and Analjit Singh, chairman of Max India.

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