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Maximizing well-being for all Protecting girls' right to learn and building a sustainable society NTT India Private Limited. Chitralekha Kalmady

The NTT Group is embracing the Self as We concept with the view to creating a sustainable society. The Self here refers to those around you as well, not just you as an individual. And this does not only refer to humans--nature and culture are also viewed as part of the Self. Social issues that cannot be solved from an

Changing society's values by creating an environment

India has been experiencing marked development in recent years. However, there are still some aspects of economic instability, and the disparity between men and women is still deep rooted due to the country's cultural background. Therefore, education for girls is not given priority, with 66% of girls not receiving appropriate education. This trend is especially prevalent in poor families, and it is typical for girls to drop out of school for early marriage, or be forced to help with housework or into early employment without receiving satisfactory education. In response, in 2017 NTT Ltd. launched an initiative in Mumbai, India's second largest city, to establish the "Right to Learn" program, which provides girls from poor families with education and skill development at public schools with a view to their future employment. This project is led by Chitralekha Kalmady, the senior manager of NTT India Private Limited's sustainability & diversity.

"We built a computer lab, science lab, and library to improve the school infrastructure, and we also offer nutritious meals and made it possible to drink clean, cold water. We also provided education on dental hygiene as well as medical counseling and career counseling. In addition to tangible measures, through digital learning sessions, continuous engagement activities, and the repeated experiences of celebrating festivals and special days together as a part of inclusion, we helped enhance their self-affirmation and make them feel respected.
These activities were conducted based on the belief that the girls would need support for their mental and physical health in order for them to properly receive high education." (comment from Chitralekha Kalmady also follows below)
NTT Ltd. "Connected communities" are one of the pillars of sustainability. This project aims to utilize the NTT Group's technologies to enable underprivileged girls to obtain skills by receiving education, but it is not limited to the girls themselves, and has an overarching goal of realizing sustainable living for their families and, furthermore, the community. This initiative also contributes to the realization of the SDGs, which the NTT Group has endorsed. It touches on seven of the 17 international goals, and is closely tied to "1: No Poverty," "4: Quality Education," and "5: Gender Equality."

Responding to potential needs as well as resolving issues

Previously, the Indian government provided support to public schools, and school fees were subsidized. However, for low-income households in India's slums, sending girls to school presents a burden. Therefore, the issue was that a high percentage of them were dropping out.

"Our initiatives, which began in 2017, have yielded the following results. The school graduation rate is 100%, and 95% of the girls were admitted to universities. Furthermore, more than 1,100 girls became familiar with computers, with over 34,000 hours logged at computer labs, and the attendance rate was over 96% on computer class days; as a result, the dropout rate decreased to less than 5%."
These results show that the value NTT provides is in line with the girls' desire to learn for their respective futures.
As one of the initiatives, they also set up a digital learning lab for learning English conversational skills to make it easier for the girls to get a job after graduating from school. The purpose of this lab is to give the girls, who usually speak Hindi, fluency in English as well as confidence in their English speaking skills.

Left: Neha Saroj, who was employed at NTT India Private Limited through the project led by Chitralekha Kalmady. Right: Chitralekha Kalmady

"One of the female students who used the digital learning lab was hired as a full-time employee by NTT India Private Limited. I believe she is a role model demonstrating that given the proper environment in which to receive an education, these girls can obtain employment opportunities which lead to a path of long-term growth."
In addition to educating girls, the project is also working to train teachers. This began with a general teacher training program, which progressed into training teachers about the skills for educating girls, thereby raising the quality of education for this project.

The joy of girls who have the chance to dream

This project has also been highly evaluated within the NTT Group. At the NTT Group CSR Conference held in Tokyo in February 2020, Ms. Kalmady gave a presentation and this initiative was selected for the 2020 Best CSR Project. Ms. Kalmady says she believes it is also important to gather support within the NTT organization.
"I want to provide more and more help to communities of girls who have been left behind by society. This is still an initiative for just one school in Mumbai, but I would like to continue this activity to provide high-quality education to all girls living in India so that they can spread their wings and fulfill their dreams. In order to do so, we must involve more girls in India and their families, as well as people to promote this project together with us. "When you educate a girl, you educate a nation. " This is an old saying, but I believe that since the NTT Group is a large corporation it can have a significant impact to change society and contribute to the realization of a society free from disparities."
One girl who began attending school as a result of this project sent us a message saying, "NTT is not just a big company. It's a place filled with people with big hearts. If I have a chance I'd like to try working at NTT, which provided so much help to our school. I'm excited to think of that going forward."
Ms. Kalmady believes that while the development of infrastructure and the provision of educational opportunities to develop their abilities are natural benefits of the program, the fact that by being close to a large corporation the girls are also given hopes of working at a global company someday is another significant result.
"I would like to see a society in which girls are given equal opportunities to complete the necessary education curriculum. And, I hope that the presence of a girl will be treated as someone who can support the family."

Spreading the concept of "We" as people connect mutually and with society

"While 'Self' is an important element for having skills, abilities, intention, and ambition, I feel that it is the power of the stronger and more significant 'We' that enables each person to have these. And I am once again grateful for 'Wellness,' both for myself and in everything that happens around me."
The realization of a business ecosystem; support and mentorship from seniors and colleagues; the willingness of principals and teachers; the name recognition of the NTT Group, which is able to shine a spotlight on issues faced by Indian society and convey them to the world; the hopes and dreams of the girls. All of these forces have come together to make this project possible as an activity with social significance.
Ms. Kalmady also says that the more she thinks about "Self as We," the more she understands and is thankful for the power of "We," which has assisted in designing and implementing plans and ideas, not only for this project, but in all of the work she has been involved in thus far.
"I am a member of the NTT Group and I am very proud to be working on a project that changes the lives of girls. I would like to collaborate with colleagues at NTT who share the same aspirations in order to lead this initiative to greater success. The NTT Group also conducts a variety of activities to promote sustainability on a global scale, and we believe that this project will be a significant input for these activities. Our strength is that we are able to share best practices from around the world since everything is interconnected."
Kalmady has been spreading the word "We" and contributing to the realization of sustainable living on a global level.