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TN’s move to crowd-fund school infra improvement hits roadblock
After receiving a positive response in the initial months, the State Education Department’s initiative to crowd-fund infrastructure improvement failed to attract donations, raising a meagre Rs one lakh in the last eight months.
The government had launched an online fundraising platform, ‘Champions of Change’, in November 2019 to provide a trustworthy channel through which the public and corporate firms (under corporate social responsibility scheme) could contribute money that would be used to improve the facilities at government schools.
The funds donated through the portal are exempt from Income Tax under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961, and all contributors will get a certificate honoring them as ‘Champion of Change’.
In the initial stage, the portal was able to attract more than Rs 7 lakhs within six months, till June 2020, said a senior official from the School Education Department. “However, due to COVID-19 pandemic, contributors did not come forward to donate money through the official website. Only 10 persons have donated money, about Rs one lakh, since July,” he said.
So far, more than 30 multinational companies, including Dell, IBM, L-T, Cognizant and Infosys, besides Indian firms like SBI, Tafe and Ashok Leyland have joined as support partners. The total donation received till last Tuesday was Rs 8,57,248, the official said.
“As per the latest reports from across the State, as many as 20,440 State-run institutions and 27,15,075 beneficiaries need the financial support,” the official said.
According to him, the main reason for the poor performance of the initiative was the lack of awareness among potential contributors.
“The authorities are discussing ways to identify companies and individuals, and send the proposal to enhance contributions further,” he said. To spread awareness about the platform among the public and corporate firms, the websites of various government departments would carry the link of the crowd funding portal, the official added.