How a group of NRI’s from US is tying the knots of digital learning in villages


digital

“I was asked to teach for an hour. The students were so enthusiastic to learn that I ended
up teaching for up to three hours! ”, says Hemanth, a volunteer with AP Government’s digital training programme.

Besides being well-informed, India’s youth today is also sensitive to issues and harbors a keen desire to give back to the society.  With this insight slowly taking hold, governments and NGOs are now banking youth-run social campaigns and projects to maximize their reach.

AP Janmabhoomi is such a social initiative, under the aegis of the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Special Representative for North America, which endeavors to bridge NRIs to their native land. With a motto ‘JanmabhoomiMaaVoru’, translating to ‘give back to the motherland’, the initiative is a first of its kind and was started on January 18, 2016, under the leadership of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Jayaram Komati. It comprises of a large spectrum of initiatives under its ambit, ranging from public health to education to well-being, covering all sections as well as aspects of life from birth till death. The initiative has institutionalized three major breakthrough projects namely “Digital Classroom”, “Anganwadi centers” and “Crematoriums”, functioning succinctly and precisely in their respective domains intended towards the comprehensive growth of the society.

Digital literacy is one such issue that is picking up steam with massive youth participation under the umbrella of this initiative. It is expected that in the next couple of years 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats will have broadband facility covering the entire rural India. Further, businesses today are breaking away from traditional operating mechanisms and are ‘going digital’. Investment in administering digital skills among the youth will be quintessential in bringing the rural youth to take on mainstream job roles.

However, for a country that sits on a massive urban-rural development divide, talking of digital empowerment in broad strokes is futile. What becomes critical here is accessibility – of infrastructure and digital literacy – of a concept that remains alien to India’s greater half.

The three-week government-run pilot project on digital literacy in Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district has implemented it just right. The Youth Empowerment Programme of AP Janmabhoomi and the Panchayat Raj & Rural Development Department, Rurban Mission, prepared a cadre of motivated youngsters by training them to reach out to fellow youth in the village of Singarayakonda. These volunteers mentored the youth in basic computer skills, ranging from using the computer to working on the MS office suite of programs, through session-based learning in a simple yet comprehensive presentation format. Besides, the programme also offered training in communication and résumé writing skills.

What followed next were robust monitoring and feedback processes that helped the back -end teams improve on session content and delivery.

Having benefited more than 50 youngsters in the village, the project received a good response from both the learners and the district administration. “I have been able to pick up some useful computer skills. I can now look forward to chasing my dreams”, says a participant.

It’s time initiatives like these took flight on a national scale. Well-meaning as they are, their ability to bridge the gap between education and employability will spell out their real success.

You can know more about the initiative and its impact at http://www.apjanmabhoomi.org/
 SHREEYA ARORA | TOC

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