The campaign aims to contribute to the government’s efforts under the ‘Swachh Bharat, Swachh Vidyalaya’ initiative, by improving basic amenities in government schools
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | November 17, 2014
NDTV, Coca-Cola India and UN-Habitat’s multi-partner program for happy, healthy and active schools, ‘Support My School’, will now scale up its effort to touch 1000 schools and 3, 60,000 students in the next two years. The third season of the program, an effort that started in 2009, aims to contribute to the government’s efforts under the ‘Swachh Bharat, Swachh Vidyalaya’ initiative.
The launch took place at Sonkh Government Middle School, Nuh District, Haryana. Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma, Venkatesh Kini, President Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, and Vikram Chandra – Group CEO, NDTV, launched the ‘Support My School’ (SMS) season three, in front of 1000 students, teachers, principals and partners of various schools that have been revitalised under the SMS campaign.
‘Support My School’ is a WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) initiative that aims to improve basic amenities in government schools like separate toilets for boys and girls, and access to water. The campaign is also committed to developing the overall infrastructure like playground and a clean environment to encourage a holistic learning environment. The campaign, in its first four years, has already revitalised 370 schools in 20 states, across the country impacting nearly 120,000 students. The schools were revitalised with contributions of nearly Rs 20 crore. The schools revitalised under the campaign have served as model schools in several districts and have led to enhanced community engagement and higher emphasis on attendance and enrolment.
Suresh Reddy, Director, SRF Foundation, Jayakumar Christian, National Director, World Vision India, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India (NGO Partner), Meenakshi Batra, CEO, Charities Aid Foundation India (NGO Partner), who are all core partners of the SMS campaign, were present on the occasion and spoke about the need to scale the program up and take it to more schools.
Kini said, “We believe that businesses today should join hands with the government and civil society to create a lasting positive impact on the communities in which we operate. In addition to our focus on environment and water, we have also been focussed on education, because we believe that education is the basis of social change. Over the years, ‘Support My School’ has grown from being an initiative to a campaign that has more than 100 partners in 20 states across India. Today, we announce the launch of the third season and are committed to revitalise 1000 schools by 2016, and impact the lives of 360,000 students. We are thankful to all the partners for having believed in this campaign.”
On being a part of the initiative, Sharma said, “I am very excited to be here today and celebrate Children’s Day in this particular school that has been revitalised by the ‘Support My School’ campaign. Today, when we as a country have had so many achievements at the global platform, it is disappointing to see that basic sanitation amenities are lacking in the country. After seeing this school and the changes this campaign has brought about, I am very happy to know that SMS is being taken to 1000 more schools in India. We need more such initiatives that focus on students’ needs of clean water, proper sanitation, facilities for sports and libraries, so that these students get a holistic and hygienic upbringing, just like we all did.”
Education in rural India suffers from several issues where lack of sanitation is a key reason for absenteeism and dropouts amongst students. This is especially noted in young girls who are forced to quit as they enter adolescence, due to a lack of clean and functional toilets. SMS campaign began as a response to several studies which indicated that a large number of schools in rural and semi-urban areas lacked basic amenities leading to accelerated student drop-out rates. The campaign has been creating awareness about the conditions of schools in these areas, fostering a private-public partnership, where corporate organisations step in to reinstall basic facilities in these government-run schools.
Chandra of NDTV said, “At NDTV we have always been committed to initiatives that bring about positive changes in society. We are proud to partner with Coca-Cola for this campaign and extend our support to the students’ needs of adequate hygiene and sanitation facilities. We hope that the campaign successfully revitalises the 1000 schools it aims to, in the next two years, and that we can extend support to many more such schools in the country in the future.”
Reddy of SRF Foundation said, “We are proud to be a part of the ‘Support My School’ campaign which has brought about a positive change to education and sanitation in many schools in India. We had taken learnings from season one to ensure that we provide a holistic development infrastructure to schools in season two. There are many schools where the enrolment has increased post the work done under SMS and it is great to see that. We look forward to another great year ahead under season three.”