In many villages across India, families depend upon the Public Distribution System (PDS) for their daily food requirements due to their hand-to-mouth existence. Without access to a computer or internet in their homes, and without a consistent electricity supply, villagers are unable to check their PDS status online. With the objective of encouraging community participation through the generation of awareness of good rural governance, digital literacy, and life skills, S M Sehgal Foundation started a Digital Literacy and Life Skill Education Program.
In Kalsada, a village not far from the hustle bustle of Alwar city, many students eager to learn how to use the computer and access information through the internet joined this program. Over time, their inclination toward learning, and helping others learn, was enhanced thanks to the consistent motivation and encouragement provided by the program. Governance training made students aware of their rights and entitlements as citizens. And once aware, students spread this awareness among their family members, friends, and the community. Families in the village learned from their children.
When Sukhiram Prajapat, a student of the Digital Literacy and Life Skill Education Program, went online to check his PDS status, he learned that the PDS dealer was siphoning off his family’s share of wheat. Sukhiram went home and told his parents, and his parents went to confront the dealer. The PDS dealer confessed his mistake and now delivers the full share of wheat due to the family. Initially, Sukhiram’s parents had been a little reluctant to send him to the Digital Literacy and Life Skill Education classes. But now they can see and truly believe that the classes have had a sizeable impact, not just on their family but also on Sukhiram as an individual. They have seen him become much more confident. He is now able to speak to anyone without hesitation thanks to the life skills training in the program.
Many others in the village are also becoming more and more empowered through access to information that is rightly theirs. The children of the villages have learned extremely important skills, including digital literacy and soft skills, and their families have benefited from the knowledge and information learned by their children. These children are now helping their parents and community elders find information about their PDS and pension status, book their train tickets, pay their bills online, and so much more. The villagers are now interested in becoming truly digital in their endeavors and they thank Sehgal Foundation for the empowerment provided by the program.