Digital Empowerment in India

»» It is almost impossible to imagine a world without computers. Yet, ninety per cent of India’s population either does not have access to a computer or is not computer literate. In a country with 1.2 billion people, that equates to a staggering amount of untapped potential. What’s more, is that fifty per cent of these people are under the age of 25, putting India well on its way to becoming the youngest country by 2020, thereby increasing the need for technological development even further.

To transform India into a digitally empowered society, the government of India launched the Digital India programme in 2015. With almost a billion people to uplift, the scope of the project is too vast for government to successfully navigate alone. Technology giant Dell provided the perfect solution with the rollout of their Aarambh project. Aarambh means ‘the beginning’ and it is Dell’s aim to, within the next year, reach 5,000 schools across 75 cities and effectively train about 100,000 teachers in the use of PCs.

One of the Aarambh teachers, Sakshi Tomar, has been passionate about computers since she first learnt how to type her name using a keyboard. She couldn’t believe that there was another way to write – without using a pen – and rushed home to tell her mother about her experience. Sakshi is now imparting this passion to her students at the Shri Sai Academy. They love her for it and say she’s their favourite teacher. Students are embracing these changes with open arms. Boring, old-school textbook learning is being enhanced by interactive and engaging practical schooling.

What makes Aarambh so innovative and clever, is the fact that it starts not only with the training of teachers, but includes the training of parents too. For the programme to be successful it needs the full support of parents. Scores of mothers are attending training sessions and are learning how to operate computers from scratch. Turning these stay-at-home moms into mavens of technology not only enables them to help their kids with their schoolwork but also increases their children’s fondness for learning.

The sheer scale of the programme constitutes a long-term project, intending to create a digital revolution under the youth of India. As a result, these scholars will reach the job market already fully productive, having received a sustainable boost to their development and sweeping their country along into a bright future.