Schools in India’s rural and semi-urban areas have been associated with one persistent problem -high drop-out rates. Low-attendance is only the tip of the iceberg. Research indicates that a lot of problems encountered by children while attending school are detrimental to their health and quality of living. From scarcity of drinking water to the non-existence of washrooms and infrastructure for a holistic education experience, children need more than motivation to become regular school-goers.

To eliminate the roadblocks to education for children in these areas, the ‘Support My School’ campaign was launched by Coca-Cola India and partners in 2011. After analysing the situation, the campaign approached the problem by providing and improving basic amenities in these schools. Since its inception, every individual has played a big role in its grass-root level execution-from teachers, parents and community members to district education officers, panchayats and local elected officials. Every volunteer inspires other sto bring about change in society through this initiative. The six-year journey has created countless stories of success for the ever-growing Support My School team, prompting them to work towards setting higher goals.

Inaccessibility to potable water had always posed a problem for the teachers and students of Primary School, Gangakhera, Lucknow in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. Luckily, the state recorded rainfall levels that would suffice for the purpose of drinking-if only the water could be harnessed effectively. A rain water harvesting system installed onthe premises, along with Plan India, enabled rainwater on rooftops to be transferred to the underground harvesting tank. Besides replenishing the ground water levels, the installation also helped bring down cases of malaria, thanks to the prevention of accumulation of water on the rooftop. Thus, the initiative served the dual benefit of helping conserve water and reducing absenteeism in the school.

Where the students of Government Senior Secondary School for Girls in Faridabad, Haryana would earlier head outdoors or home in order to visit the toilet, the practice has come to a stop. Over the course of the next few months, enrolment of girls also increased, after 3 toilet blocks were built under Support My School in the premises, along with World Vision India.

Inthe middle school of Bihar’s Bhalui District, students happily quote ‘reading’ as a hobby, and don’t shy away from saying that they would like to become the next Premchand or Tagore. The library built under Support My School (along with Plan India) is stacked with books on varying topics, thus providing ample food for thought for the curious minds. The students have even taken the ownership of maintaining the books. The Primary School of Gangakhera, Lucknowhas a similar story to narrate. When asked about his favourite poem, a student tells how ‘Desh ki Mitti’ by Kalrav tells him that “One gets everything from mother earth.”

In the Higher Primary School, Kaggal (Karnataka), games have helped develop a spirit of healthy competition and leadership in students. The new playground and sports equipment provided (along with Plan India), have motivated students to regularly go to school. The journey of Support My School has witness many more victories across 600 schools till date. And Coca-Cola India is more determined than ever to play a part in opening up more avenues, providing facilities, aiding students to pursue education and re-shaping their reality. The journey for the children may have just begun!