Table of Contents
Literacy is a fundamental instrument for human development, encompassing multifaceted dimensions. Technology plays an increasingly pivotal role in our rapidly evolving world. Staying informed about the latest technological advancements has become a useful prevailing trend. However, for some, grasping the fundamentals remains a formidable challenge due to various obstacles. With all the technological marvels, where computers, the internet, and social media interconnect the globe, incredible opportunities have emerged that were once inconceivable. Yet this high-tech terrain can be daunting, even for those in well-connected and well-resourced communities.
How can individuals residing on the other side of the digital divide, particularly in impoverished and remote areas, acquire the essential tech skills and knowledge they need?
The Chronicles Of S M Sehgal Foundation
The top sustainable rural development NGO in India initiated a program focused on digital literacy training and life skills education in 2006 for students in government schools. With the generous backing of philanthropic partners, this program has seen steady growth. Digital literacy training conducted in state-of-the-art classrooms is pivotal to S M Sehgal Foundation’s “Transform Lives, one school at a time” program. This program has already had a profound impact, particularly for rural schoolchildren, including girls, paving the way for a brighter future. It continues to extend its reach to more villages, transforming more lives.
Online Digital Literacy Class
Teaching digital literacy in impoverished rural settings is a formidable challenge. In close collaboration with local communities, the foundation has drawn upon years of experience to navigate obstacles such as connectivity issues, infrastructure gaps, and cultural considerations. We’ve developed a practical and resilient curriculum delivered by carefully selected, tech-savvy community members.
Students who have graduated from this program have used their newfound skills excellently. They’ve harnessed technology to access government services, contribute to community projects, explore opportunities for themselves and their families, and engage with the digital world that many of us take for granted. As a result, they’ve reported increased self-confidence and newfound motivation to pursue previously impossible paths.
The challenges were immense when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life in these villages, including education. Sparse populations, economic hardship, and limited resources made rural areas particularly vulnerable during the crisis. Even charging a mobile phone presented difficulties. Recognizing the urgency felt by both students and instructors of the digital literacy program, the S M Sehgal Foundation team found innovative ways to provide online classes. These sessions became possible as students shared devices at home or attended classes in small, socially distanced groups.
The Pandemic Sharpened The Digital Gender Divide
A concerning gender disparity in rural India’s access to digital education came to the forefront amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The restricted or absent internet access for young girls played a pivotal role in this divide.
In response to this challenge, S M Sehgal Foundation took proactive steps to empower these girls through digital and life skills training classes. These sessions smoothly transitioned from online to offline, adhering to pandemic guidelines. These training programs proved transformative, instilling hope and empowerment in countless girls as they acquired digital skills and bolstered their self-esteem.
The digital and life skills awareness training programs by the rural development NGO engaged young women and girls in mastering various computer applications and foundational knowledge in internet research. Students became proficient in critical tasks like job searching, online payments, and applying for government support programs, significantly contributing to their families’ economic well-being. A remarkable instance is Manju, a Class XI student at Beejwad Naruka School in Alwar, Rajasthan. Using her newfound skills, she successfully tracked her Public Distribution System status and applied for rations under the COVID program.
Digitally Empowered Girls Pave The Way For An Information-Led Society
In the adjoining districts of Alwar in Rajasthan, and Nuh in Haryana, rural girls have leveraged digital awareness to access government programs related to health, education, public distribution systems, and more. They have also used these skills for educational purposes, such as research, downloading exam IDs, and checking their results. Additionally, some students applied their knowledge to create invitation cards and assist their families with mobile phone recharges, online shopping, and money transfers.
The development of an informed society significantly drives socioeconomic progress. Small successes achieved by students in villages such as Devla Nangli, Mahua Khurd, Sangail, Jethana, and Indragarh have initiated positive changes in these communities, leading girls to increase their digital footprint.