Field Visit -- Digital Literacy Program -- Thiruvallur District 24th Aug 2022
The Ford Digital Literacy Program has been in existence for more than a decade. Partnership with primarily Rotary and with several deserving NGO has led to the deployment and setting up of computer labs across the country – As they Say “Kashmir to Kanyakumari” –covering the length and breadth of the country.
There is nothing like visiting the schools or other institutions to see how the computers are deployed and used.. the proof the pudding lies in being on the ground and understanding realities.
It was with that intent that I visited Thiruvallur district – Area where one of our partners ASHA works in and with 85 schools – spread across Elementary( Classes 1-5 ) to Middle ( 6-8) to High Schools( 11and 12th grades ) Mr Rajaraman and Mr Ramakrishnan Volunteers of ASHA were kind enough to take me to some of the schools that they work with and show how effectively the computers are deployed.
We visited a middle school , a elementary school and a High school covering all classes from Class 1 to class XII. It was such a wonderful experience to interact with kids and see them use the Computers.. ASHA has supported each of these schools with a dedicated Computer teacher at their own cost Not only that , there is a software ( again ASHA developed ) that is very intuitive and brings the learning aspect and the engagement of the student. The schools are pretty much in rural village with strength ranging from 30 ( elementary ) to 400 ( High school ). For these children to have access to Computer learning is just fantastic … And with Ford making available the latest (14” Dell laptops, mostly i3 with 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD. Some of them were higher configuration with i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. And touch screen to boost .. One could watch the kids as they dabbled in learning , some writing codes as well !!
The visit ended with a quick tour of the Rural training Center set up at Poondi that works in the after school time from 3:30 to 7:30 and where Computer education is taught free . The Rural Tech center is a set up in collaboration with the Rural Outreach Program of IIT Madras. What an opportunity for everyone in the area to learn computers with proper guidance and with excellent infrastructure…
So what were things that is making this whole program work well at Thiruvallur District ?
- ASHA team has done excellent work in identifying schools , securing proper approvals and penetration is really in areas that need support
- Trained Computer teacher support at each school to ensure that there is a proper method of education
- Hardware support – Sometimes due to power issues, computers do go down, ASHA has employed a tech team that quickly ensures support and classes do not get stopped.
- Governance ,through visits by Volunteers from Chennai
Although Tiruvallur district is close to Chennai due to traffic and roads , it took time.. Each school is away from one another , with small mud roads. In one village , it was just the school and couple of houses that made up the village … But all this trouble is worth it when you see that 1st standard student using the Computers left , right and center ... Sheer joy at the Outcome !
Thanks to the ASHA team for such an effective deployment and for the affirmation of the Ford Digital program being successful in its journey