Corporate drive for education

Updated on: Dec 22, 2013
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For the corporate world, education and philanthropy seem to be becoming synonymous today. From Birla to Ambani, Premji to Munjal, all are into education— not as part of their corporate affairs, but in their personal capacities.

The motivation, they say, is the urge to give back to the society.

Education and skill development are areas that not only make for good philanthropy, but also offer long-term benefits for business houses. The oft repeated complaint is that graduates are not employable, creating an obvious gap in supply and demand in the job sector. . No wonder, some business houses are taking it upon themselves to seal this gap.

For the Munjal family, it is not a new thing either. The family has been in the education industry since 1963, says Akshay Munjal, Executive Director, BML Educorp Services.

However, now the family is upping the ante as it feels the need to be more “research-focused”. Changing policies are making it easier for private entities to enter the field, says Munjal.

The Hero Group’s BML Munjal University School of Management has tied up with the Imperial College of London so that “students get the best of both worlds”.

However, Munjal adds they try and keep the courses as affordable as possible. With their MBA course fee at Rs 3 lakh, and IT courses at Rs 2 lakh, this is not far off the mark. Compared to this, the IIM-Bangalore’s two-year post-graduate course has a fee of Rs 13 lakh.

It is estimated that through its various educational initiatives, the Munjal family, which is also the founder promoters of the Indian School of Business-Mohali, has educated over 200,000 Indians. “In our case, it is a family fund,” he says.

Others in the category include O.P. Jindal and Shiv Nadar. The Shiv Nadar Foundation also has several educational initiatives such as the Shiv Nadar University and the Vidya Gyan schools in rural India.

Nita Ambani’s Reliance Foundation is another major entity in the education business. The foundation is offering local schools logistical and financial support, and also building teacher capacity and infrastructure.

Education to more than 15,000 children across 12 schools has been provided through the foundation. “Through the Dhirubhai Ambani Scholarship, the foundation supports meritorious students across the country, including the differently abled,” says a spokesperson of the foundation, adding these scholarships have benefited more than 10,000 students.

Within the school education system, the foundation is focusing more on secondary education. According to a study, ‘Secondary education in India: Development policies, programmes and challenges’, only 16 per cent of India’s education budget is spent on secondary education compared with 62 per cent for primary education.

While so far the Reliance Foundation has mostly been involved with developing school education, it is now also planning a university in Maharashtra.

While the big names are getting into education, those tracking the sector say the reason for their involvement is simple: they are getting to tap talent. But they face challenges as well. Lack of clear-cut norms/policies for private sector participation in higher education has been an issue, says an industry association.

Lack of clarity on funding pattern, incentives, and regulatory oversight has been another deterrent.

But now, the Government has been seriously addressing these issues, in order to provide a clear road map to the private and corporate sectors. The result, as an educationist said, will benefit the students – who can avail themselves of wider canvas to decide from and not everyone needs to cross the oceans to get a degree.

Published on November 23, 2017

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