Close on the heels of winning several awards for its Lead India campaign at the Cannes Advertising Festival, The Times of India (TOI) has announced its next social initiative, Teach India. Although the idea was initiated a year ago, it took four months to develop and execute the launch of the Teach India programme. The initiative is an effort to change the literacy figures of India. Teach India tries to address a two-fold issue. One is the fact that India will not be able to lead unless its populace is literate, and the second is that there exists a latent need for citizens to contribute to society. These insights were gained from the feedback received for Lead India.The campaign broke on July 6. The first phase is a call to the citizens of the country to volunteer with a non-government organisation (NGO) in their locality and spend two hours a week teaching underprivileged children. "This is a mass programme and the response within these few days has been stupendous," says Priya Gupta, assistant vice-president, TOI. Phase 2 of the campaign will hand-pick students from top institutes, who are willing to dedicate two years to teaching the underprivileged.
"Through this initiative, we are hoping to be catalysts in providing a better future for the nation through education," says Gupta.Volunteers may choose a convenient time and place for teaching, within given slots. The form may be downloaded from the official website, www.teach.timesofindia.com. It is also there in The Times of India.TOI's creative agency, JWT, is responsible for the campaign. Agnello Dias, national creative director, JWT, says, "It's an attempt to get people who want to contribute to society to do something. It's like a job site where you can mention your strengths, skills and availability, and an NGO with similar availability can contact you.""It is seen that people want to dedicate some time towards social activities, but cannot do so because of constraints of time, days and geography. Teach India connects you directly to the NGO which suits you best," says Dias.There have been full page press ads in TOI and articles on the state of education in the city. Sixty NGOs have signed up to be a part of the Teach India movement. Corporates have signed up: At least 50 of their employees will dedicate two hours per week to the initiative. Already, more than 21 schools have pledged that their students will teach other children on an Each One Teach One basis. The first phase has been launched in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai and will soon be extended to other cities as well.The NGOs were selected on the basis of their credibility. It was imperative that education be the primary mission of the NGO. The print, television and above-the-line activities will be continued for a couple of months, says Gupta. The first TV commercial for the campaign will be aired soon. The campaign has been heavily supported by outdoor, radio and on-ground activation. Times Now and Radio Mirchi are partners in this initiative. UN Volunteers is a partner in the Teach India initiative and is helping out with the mechanics of the programme. According to UN Volunteers, if Teach India is able to register 10,000 and more volunteers, it will grow to be the largest literacy programme (by a brand) in the world.