What is Support My School?
Support My School is a campaign launched with the aim of improving basic amenities and facilities provided by government schools. The key thrust of the campaign is to provide for access to clean drinking water and separate hygienic toilets for boys and girls in schools, especially in rural India. Apart from these, the campaign focuses on the need for a playground and a library in each school – facilities that shall provide for the overall growth and development of school children. It is an active community-led campaign to sensitize both society and administration to these issues and to raise funds necessary to implement its. The campaign is the result of the collective efforts of NDTV, Coca-Cola, and UN Habitat. It has been over four years since the Support My School campaign was initially launched (in January 2011). In these years, the campaign has already garnered contributions well over INR 20 crore and impacted the hygiene and sanitation conditions of about 500 schools across 22 states of the country.
Season 3 and 4 – Scaling it up
The Support My School ultimately aims at revitalizing about 1000 schools and impact the lives of about 2,50,000 students by the year 2017. Season 3 of the Support My School Campaign was launched in November 2014 by the Campaign ambassador Mr. Sourav Ganguly and leading actor from Bollywood Mr. Farhan Akhtar. The launch took place at the Sonkh Government Middle School in Haryana (Nuh District). Season 4 took the campaign a notch higher as it collaborated with PM Narendra Modi’s flagship campaign for cleanliness and hygiene, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. The government and state administrations are lending the campaign full support with the tagline – Prime Minister’s efforts under Swachh Bharat, Swachh Vidyalaya. The campaign slogan ‘Happy, Healthy, and Active schools’ is now the mantra taken up by the people and organizations involved. Support of the programme has been taken up by a number of prominent people and celebrities, including cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, actresses Sonali Bendre, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai, Kajol, Chitrangada, Sakshi Tanwar and Priya Dutt and actors Ranveer Singh, Hussain Kuwajerwala and Boman Irani, apart from leading personalities in the world of business and finance such as Venkatesh Kini, the President of Coca-Cola India and South West Asia and Vikram Chandra, the Group CEO-NDTV.
Sourav Ganguly, the Indian cricket legend and India’s former captain is the official campaign ambassador of the Support My School campaign. “I am honored to be associated with Support My School… Having visited an impacted school and seen the transformation first hand, active, healthy and happy schools can be a major game changer for students and I will try and bring in my learnings to scale up the programme,” Ganguly said. His appearance in lesser known government schools and villages is a great motivation for the community to actively participate in the programme and creates much awareness among the children themselves. Dipping into his rich experience in sports, Ganguly notes that most school grounds lack maintenance and he often plays a game of cricket with school students to raise awareness about the need for sporting facilities in the schools of rural India. Ganguly has pledged to remain actively involved with the campaign till about 1000 schools are revitalized with hygiene, sanitation, and sports amenities.
A number of Indian corporations and organizations working in India have pledged active support for the campaign and have promised to positively impact the lives of school-going children in India.
- Aircel India – In April 2015, as Support My School campaign achieved its 500-school milestone, the popular telecom operator pledged support and announced a contribution of some INR 8,260,000 lakh towards construction of toilets and sanitation facilities in government schools across the country.
- Allana Pvt Ltd. – The success of the Support My School campaign comes from the fact that it has enlisted the aid of the central and state governments, private institutions and corporations and society alike. Earlier in 2015, Allana Private Limited announced a contribution of INR 25 lakh for the campaign.
- Pearson – UK-based learning and media company Pearson PLC’s philanthropic division, the Pearson Foundation also stepped in to partner with the Support My School campaign. The Pearson Foundation has promised to build and stock over 100 libraries in government schools across the country. Apart from this, as the ‘Learning Partner’, Pearson shall also undertake extensive teachers’ training in many of these schools.
My School Telethon
In a major effort to raise funds and create awareness about the campaign and its goals, NDTV and Coca Cola organized a massive star-studded 6 hour My School Telethon – a programme that successfully coupled entertainment and information – on 29 November, 2015. In the Telethon, Ganguly swung his bat and coached and played with some school students. That is, till actor Ranveer Singh also decided to try his hand against the former Indian skipper. Apart from a fantastic dance programme put up by Ranveer Singh and Hussain Kuwajerwala, the stars also danced with the differently-abled children. The Telethon also hosted a discussion forum where a number of stars such as Sonali Bendre emphasized on the necessity for schools to maintain hygiene and sanitation and also pledged a contribution of about INR 5,00,000. Sachin Tendulkar and a number of other celebrities also participated, making it a highly successful effort in creating awareness.
Impact of Support My School
The importance and impact of the Support My School campaign can be put in perspective against the backdrop of the following statistics. Despite India’s active campaign to increase literacy levels, only about 47 of the 100 children enrolled into Class I manage to get to Class VIII without dropping out. School dropout rate amongst adolescent girls in the country is pegged at about 63.5 percent. Given these alarming statistics, it becomes increasingly important especially in government schools of rural regions, that sanitation, hygiene, and the necessity of a playground and library be emphasized. In terms of its sheer achievement and vision, the Support My School campaign is a great success.