The National CSR Data portal shows education received the lion’s share of CSR funds between FY15 and FY17. As many as 5,952 companies contributed Rs 4,277 crore to education in 2016-17 (The total CSR fund for the year was Rs 13,464 crore).
But there’s a predictable curve to this corporate engagement in the sector. According to the organisation Samhita’s 2014 analysis of CSR programmes of the top 100 companies on the Bombay Stock Exchange, much of the engagement leaned towards providing infrastructure and scholarships while there was less support for systemic reforms or interventions focusing on learning outcomes.
“Infrastructure is still dominating,” says Anushree Parekh, who heads research at Samhita. The current trend is technology in education—broadly digital classrooms—considering governments too are pushing for this. Parekh says the challenge is to make these models rigourous enough for better learning outcomes. “We don’t see that rigour, despite there being some good models,” she adds.