Since we started working with Dalit communities in Bihar State, four years ago, one of the main requests from the children has been to set up some computer training, alongside the Learning Centres and Women’s Groups.
A report by the Digital Empowerment Foundation shows that 90% of the Indian population lags on digital literacy. In day to day life this has a huge impact on people’s ability to enter education, the workforce, or even apply for simple services. Add this to the stifling discrimination faced by Dalit people, and it becomes a significant factor in keeping a community under the poverty line.
In the last few months, a new Computer Centre has been created, and 152 children have started regular classes, with an additional eight students undergoing a one-month crash course and 20 students signing up for a three-month course in basic computing and internet use.
Ankita (pictured) is 18 years old and her family struggles with a low income. She didn’t have the digital skills to enrol on a course that would qualify her for the kind of job she wanted. One day she heard about the local Centre providing computer classes and registered on the three-month course. Once she’d finished, Ankita was presented with a certificate and took admission on a further education course.
Ankita did a three month computer course and was then offered a job.
Within two months she was offered a job in a cyber cafe. She says “I am happy now and it seems that my dream is coming true. I feel privileged to get this wonderful chance to do computer education and am excited to have these new changes ahead in my life”.
Written and practical exams have already been conducted at the Centre and all participants have been learning about surfing the internet and how to access educational sites for their studies. Project leader Veena says “The students and parents are very happy that the Computer Centre is serving the poorer children. The children have shown great interest and learned very fast. The joy they’ve shown has been a real encouragement for me”.