Digital devices put Boisar village on path to progress
PM’s Rural Outreach Finds Takers
At a top floor classroom of a modest building at Dandipada in Boisar, Palghar district around a dozen students, many of them middle-aged men and women, surround their young teacher Devendra Sankhe. With visible expertise and experience, Sankhe demonstrates on his laptop the “wonders” a mere click on the mouse can do. “After you have logged in, you can use the internet, go to government websites to learn about various schemes, apply for farm loan waiver and scholarships online,” Sankhe tells his students who diligently try to grasp the points he so earnestly hammers home.
This is not a usual computer training centre where you pay to learn or a cybercafé where surfers pay by the hour. This is one of the skill centres established under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan (PMGDISHA) in partnership with Siddiqui’s Educational &Welfare Trust (SEWT). Beginning with Palghar district, SEWT, one of the government-certified training partners, has set up 36 centres in the district and aims to establish around 400 such centres across Maharashtra. Apart from being absolutely free, the 20-hour programme trains digitally illiterate individuals (between 14 and 60) in rural areas on how to use technology to communicate effectively. PMGDISHA aspires to reach one member from every eligible rural household in the country by March 31, 2019. “City folks have better access to technology and learn to use digital devices easily. But it is a real challenge to take digital revolution to the digitally illiterate beneficiaries in rural India where technology penetration is limited,” says SEWT’s president Mohammed Anis Siddiqui. The government pays Rs 300 per candidate directly to the training partners on successful certification of trained candidates, adds Siddiqui.
It certainly has begun transforming the way villagers used technology earlier. So housewife Neelu Prasad who depended on one of her five children or husband who works in an MIDC unit if she wanted to make a call on her mobile has learnt to do it herself and is aware that a fraudster can con her if she reveals her bank account details to him. “The idea is to break the digital divide and empower rural citizens with the knowledge to use digital devices for accessing, creating, managing and sharing information. The trained individuals will be able to carry out cashless transactions using digital financial tools and online citizen centric services like farm loan waivers and scholarships,” informs Roshan Sankhe, the programme coordinator.
Reena Prasad, a school dropout, had only seen a computer in her school but had never even “touched” it. When she first sat before a laptop at this centre a few days ago, she felt a sense of freedom. “Yeh bhi ek azaadi ki nishani hai (this also is a sign of freedom),” she gushes gazing at the laptop’s screen. Anganwadi worker Akansha Jadhav says she learnt the basics of computer in school but doesn’t remember much. “Now that it is virtually at our doorstep and free, I will learn to do things online and even bring my husband (he, like most men in the village, works at MIDC) here,” she resolves.
Several college students too have joined the course. Harshal Pawar, a standard 12th (Arts) student, says:“I will hone my skill in online shopping, banking and other digital skills that may help me find a suitable job after I finish graduation,” Pawar says. “The course can be used as a spark to learn more in the digital arena,” explains Karan Patil, PMGDISHA’s manager in Palghar district. Priority is given to non-smart phone users and college drop-outs.