HANDS-ON HELP WITH LESSONS IN LIFE
by Sophy Buckley
Through an education project in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, and training programs in Rajasthan and Karnataka, CNH Industrial and its brands have been closely involved in community initiatives that are helping to lift hundreds out of poverty in India.
The Company’s sustainability initiatives are inspired by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and these three particular projects in India are directly related to SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth. By giving underprivileged children access to education, and by training unemployed youth in useful skills, CNH Industrial hopes the next generation will have a brighter future.
Investing in education
The Company's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team in India recently visited the Mission Education Centre in Noida, Uttar Pradesh – a school supported by CNH Industrial and its New Holland Agriculture brand.
Army veterans founded the Mission Education Centre to help Noida's underprivileged children, who come from the neighboring slums that are home to some 10,000 people. But the school suffered from poor attendance and a high dropout rate, as with few resources, it was hard to keep the children motivated.
The Smile Foundation, an NGO that matches sponsors with projects, approached CNH Industrial and New Holland Agriculture for help. After working together for two years, the results are plain to see.
Kavita Sah, Head of CSR India at CNH Industrial, explains: "We fund the education of 200 children at the school between the ages of seven and 15, up to Standard Eight. It's part of our CSR, with its focus on education and the environment. The children attend from 8am until 1.30pm and learn Math, English, Hindi, History, Geography and other subjects."
"Attendance is up to an average of 95 percent from somewhere between 30 and 40 percent before our involvement. More girls are coming to school – they account for 52 percent of the school roll, up from less than 40 percent. And since we became involved, all the children continue to the next school level to finish their education," Sah says. "This is extremely important to enable them to join the formal workforce, which in turn enhances their chances of getting a good job."
Poverty is a huge problem in the school's catchment area. Shriya, a bright 10-year-old, tells how she wants to become a doctor. She lives with her grandmother and mother, who is the sole breadwinner, working as a housemaid – a situation that is shared by many of her fellow students.
EDUCATION AT THE CENTRE
CNH Industrial funds the education of 200 underprivileged children between the ages of seven and 15 at the Mission Education Centre in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. All the children continue to the next school level to finish their education. The scheme has been so successful that there are plans to expand the intake to 220 children.
More girls are attending the Mission Education Centre, accounting for 52 percent of the school roll, up from less than 40 percent before CNH Industrial’s involvement.
CNH Industrial has trained teachers in activity-based lessons using worksheets, science kits, maps and globes. Extracurricular activities and learning through play have increased attendance and motivation at the school. Extra support is extended to less able students with special classes in Math and English.
Maximizing the opportunity
With attendance high and all the children now completing their education, the Mission Education Centre is giving Shriya and her fellow students the chance to hope for a brighter future. And to make sure their opportunity is maximized, the Company's sponsorship goes beyond the purely financial. CNH Industrial has trained teachers in activity-based lessons using worksheets, science kits, maps and globes, which has not only kept the children motivated, but also allowed staff to devise a program of valuable extra-curricular activities. "Getting the children to come to school in the first place can be hard," says Sah. When she looked into what would increase their motivation for turning up, it turned out to be extracurricular activities and making learning fun.
"We run competitions – last year there were drawing, painting and cultural competitions, and we had a science exhibition organized by some of the children. We also provide special classes in Math and English for the less able students, and health checks as well as sex education – know your body, stay safe, stay healthy," she says. Sah also set up community mobilizers – people to knock on doors and explain to families the importance of education and that the school is free.
So successful is the scheme that there are plans to expand the intake to 220 children this year. "After the initial set-up costs, there's now more money to spend on educating more children," she explains.
"The school's reputation has benefited from the work we do with the morning sessions. With better teachers and better systems, more students are encouraged to join in the afternoon," says Sah. "It's a social benefit."
Shyamlal Mishra is grateful for the funding that has allowed daughters Prema and Radhika to attend the school. "I am fully assured of my daughters' education and safety as their performance and learning levels are constantly improving. Thank you so much CNH Industrial, New Holland and Smile Foundation,"
Sah says: "When I speak to parents they say a great load has been lifted from their shoulders. They can't afford to pay fees and they know their children are going to a good school run by good people."
Similarly encouraging results are coming from two other CNH Industrial community projects elsewhere in India – both involving agricultural and construction-equipment. The first project aims to increase standards of living in rural areas by teaching farmers advanced cropping techniques.
Low agricultural productivity is one of the principal causes of poverty across much of India. By offering training in crop systems, maintenance, animal rearing, mushroom cultivation, biogas plant composting, beekeeping and silk farming, CNH Industrial has been able to help 900 farmers (men and women) in three locations – two in Karnataka and one in Rajasthan.
CNH Industrial’s agritraining program has taught advanced cropping techniques to 900 farmers in three locations across India.
As well as training farmers in crop systems, CNH Industrial’s agritraining program covers maintenance, animal rearing, mushroom cultivation, biogas plant composting, beekeeping and silk farming.
Skills development training
The other project, started in August 2017, focuses on helping unemployed youth learn how to operate a loader backhoe, giving them the skills to get a job. India faces both high unemployment and a shortage of skilled labor. CNH Industrial's brand CASE Construction Equipment addresses both problems with two construction-equipment training centers in western and southern India. The training course devised by CNH Industrial and its brand is tailored very closely to the needs and abilities of the participants.
Because literacy rates are low and the operation of the loader backhoe requires a high level of skill, much of the teaching is based on verbal instructions rather than written materials. In addition, 15 days of the two-month course are spent gaining practical, on-the-job experience.
"They learn how to operate the loader backhoe, to read and understand the manual, maintenance, repairs and safety, along with basic soft skills such as courteous behavior, which is helpful when dealing with customers and employers," says Sah.
As of February 2018, some 80 operators had been trained, with 30 of those already placed in jobs. Ten more were undergoing training.
Investing in communities for the long-term
When it comes to helping underprivileged communities, CNH Industrial's strategy is to focus on collaboration, constant dialogue and shared resources rather than funding alone. The education project in Noida and the training programs in Rajasthan and Karnataka are long-term initiatives that have empowered disadvantaged children and unemployed youth to escape poverty and build a better future.