Education on Wheels
In today’s world, technology occupies a center stage in a national as well as in an international context. New technologies are employed to improve knowledge and skills. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) are playing a crucial role in contributing towards enhancing our nation’s growth. The rapid growth and adoption of ICT has enabled people to access information and be connected across the world. ICT skilled people are able to serve as empowered citizens in their communities.
There is a widening gap between those who have access to these tools and those without the ability or means to access them. In a digitally unequal world, we need to focus on bridging the gap between the digitally privileged and underprivileged community of India. Although the government is working toward improving digital literacy, more private players are required to step in to make a Digital India and transform lives for the better.
NIIT Foundation with its partners, is offering a mobility solution to this digital divide with an Education on Wheels Program. It is bringing the world of information and knowledge on wheels to isolated and disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Currently, NIIT Foundation is running this program in two locations with two corporate partners.
Indus Digital Transformation Van: This project in partnership with Indus Towers and is being implemented in Vadodara Municipal Corporation in Gujarat. The project aims at reaching out to 12 villages. The beneficiaries of the Indus DTV range from 12 to 60 years and include students, women SHG groups, housewives, entry level employees at companies, farmers and adults who want to become digitally literate.
Education on Wheels with Swarnalata Motherson Trust, The Foundation of Motherson Group: This project is being implemented in selected villages of Noida, UP. Six village schools, including one junior high school and five primary schools have been identified for the project. The vehicle is also providing training to the community around the schools and reaching out to daily wage laborers and farmers. The focus is also to train girls from the community on basic IT skills during their vacations.
The Education on Wheels Program has a 20-seater van. It is a solar power enabled van. It is set up as a digital classroom equipped with printing technology, software and E-learning tools. The beneficiaries accessing the Van are benefitting in many ways. They are being made aware of and have access to government programs and initiatives. Computer Literacy and IT enabled education is being provided to rural youth, school children, low-income employees, farmers and others situated in rural parts of the state. The Education on Wheels Program is bringing innovation and technology at doorsteps, thereby making it available to everyone.
The Program has five components to it:
- Provide Digital Literacy at the Village Doorstep
- IT Education
- Entrepreneurship Development Program
- Common public utility services
- Video conferencing consultation
THE KEY OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAM ARE
- Reducing the Digital divide for those living in remote areas
- Awareness of computers as a window to knowledge
- Linkages to Govt programs and initiatives
- Enhancing interest-levels in learning
- Introducing the multidisciplinary approach to education
- Using computers as a tool for daily tasks
- Encouraging collaborative learning
- Developing interpersonal skills
- Providing awareness on technology amongst rural community
- Providing equal opportunities for rural youth
There is a detailed and systematic process through which the project is carried out across the selected villages.
Village Mapping and Community Engagement:
As a first step, villages are identified and mapped. Meetings are regularly held with school administrations and community members to raise awareness on the project and enroll students. Community building and rapport building activities are regularly conducted.
Student Counseling and Enrolment: Students are then enrolled into the program and undergo career counseling. Career counseling helps students discover their strengths, talents and skills so that they are able to make informed choices.
Certified Courses are delivered:
It is after this, that the certified module is facilitated with students. The courses include NDLM, Advance IT and Entrepreneurship Development.
Video Conferencing and Guest Speakers:
Video Conferencing facilities are available in the van. As a part of the program initiative, it was decided that the community needs to be sensitized, capacitated and empowered on the aspects of Women Empowerment, Financial literacy, Medical consultation, Job Opportunities, Environment, Seasonal diseases via Video Conferencing.
A key feature of The Education on Wheels Program is that various subject matter experts, professionals, leaders and practitioners are called in to enhance student’s knowledge and give the beneficiaries exposure on various topics. NF is constantly taking feedback from the speakers and visitors to improve the strength and quality of the project.
RASMI ARIYA, 31, is a resident of the Madhuvan Avenue in Koyali village of Vadodara district in Gujarat. She has studied till Class 10. She lives with her husband who works in a private company. Rasmi runs a beauty parlor in her village and earns approximately 15000 every month.
She enrolled for the NDLM course at the Indus DTV Education on Wheels Program. She gained not only theoretical knowledge but also developed computer skills including how to use MS office and use the internet.
Earlier Rasmi did not have any exposure to computers and its usage. After completing the course, she has developed computer skills but has also enhanced her level of confidence.
At the end of the course Rasmi shared, “Now I have knowledge of computers. This will help me to teach others and it will be very useful to manage and expand my business. Client Data Management, publicity about my parlor on social media, creating an inventory will now be possible. I will also be able to keep track of my monthly profit and loss which will help me grow my business.”