Ireland’s AOL pitches in to educate Indian kids

April 5th, 2008 - 3:14 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) Education of underprivileged children has a new sponsor in India. Ireland-based AOL Broadband is contributing in a big way to promote literacy in rural areas to develop the country’s knowledge pool. AOL donated 20,000 Euros to Round Table India, a charitable organisation, for its “Freedom Through Education” project as part of its social corporate initiative. The firm will play an active part in developing five new rural education projects in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

India has an estimated 186 million children in the age group of 8 to 14, of which 100 million don’t go to school. Only four out of 10 children in the remaining 86 million reach up to Class 4 and then drop out.

“This is our second partnership with Round Table India. India has tremendous potential in terms of knowledge. We need to fully expand that potential by taking education to the grassroots. We at AOL have a history of education projects as part of our social corporate initiative,” Jorris Heeze, head of Indian operations of AOL Broadband, told IANS Friday evening.

The company had partnered with the Round Table India for a school project in Bangalore.

AOL Broadband is a subsidiary of The Carphone Warehouse Group and is a leading online Interactive Services Provider in Britain with more than 2.3 million subscribers. It offers a range services like dial-up, broadband and telephony. It has three offshore contact centres in India with a crew of 2,000.

“Education is the primary thrust of social corporate responsibility programme. We have a tie-up with the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland where we sponsor talent,” Heeze said.

Social service is a way of life for AOL employees across Europe and India, the official said.

“For the last 12 years, we have been conducting a voluntary teaching programme wherein employees are given pay-off every year to teach in schools for the underprivileged. However, we offer a host of other voluntary services in Ireland,” Heeze said.

“But in India, we don’t want our education initiative to be branded as charity. We will partner with organisations with similar beliefs to help better the lives of the people around show to become an effective community player. It is to show that we care and we are not in this country just to do business,” he said.

The five projects that AOL is partnering in India includes a school project in Bangalore, two classrooms and a library for the deaf and the dumb school in Delhi, adoption of a classroom of 55 students in Bangalore, 100 free cataract and vision correction operations (of both young and old) in Delhi and 118 in Mumbai.

According to the ambassador of Ireland, Keiran Dowling, a large contingent of delegates attached to private and government education departments and institutes in Ireland will arrive in India over the weekend to “select the best of brains who want to study in Ireland”.

The country is promoting itself as an education destination to students from South Asia.

“We share several common traits, which goes beyond colonialism. Our ways of life are similar,” Dowling said.

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