The 21st century is undoubtedly the ‘digital age’. Just one glance around you can tell you how every aspect of life is touched by technology and digitization. However in a country where we take pride in saying that our IT services are amongst the best in the world and an Indian is heading Google, it is surprising and indeed sad to note that 97% students do not have access to a computer. At the same time 1,70,000 computers were discarded in 2014 alone.
Conceived in 2015 by Enactus SSCBS, University of Delhi, the mission of Project Udaan is to promote digital literacy across rural India through sustainable business enterprises owned and operated by women. The venture is targeting the widespread problem of lack of digital literacy in rural India. Millions of people in rural India are deprived of the benefits of modern technology, simply because they cannot afford access to it. Thousands of students in government schools in these areas lose out on the benefits of computer education, a vital skill to shape their future. By setting up a computer centre in these areas, the venture seeks to tackle this problem by focusing on skill development and inclusive growth.
The first centre under the project has been set up in Kaloi, a village in Jhajjar, Haryana. Apart from its educational and environmental impact, the enterprise has saved Rs 39,150 in wages and Rs 39,000 in transportation for the village community. So, what exactly does the project do that makes all this possible?
A simple thing like getting an Aadhar card used to be challenging for the village until now due to absence of printers in the area. As a result, most people had to travel to a different area or the closest town to avail basic electronic services; spending more on the journey than the cost of getting that printout itself.
The dual-faceted benefit model of the enterprise helps to tackle the problem of poor disposal of E-waste in the urban areas by channelizing the used and waste computers into the village computer labs after doing the necessary repairs. These computer labs which function as computer classes during the day; contribute to the holistic development of the students studying in the neighbourhood schools by teaching them basic Microsoft functions and facilitating school study through computers which ignites their interest in education. The same computer lab functions like cyber café after the classes and serves as the digital window to awareness and easy access to services.
Our entrepreneur, Smt. Manoj Dhankar; who holds the complete onus of teaching students and managing is cyber café finally feels that her B.Tech degree is coming to use. One of the very few educated ladies of the village, Manoj Ji had not been allowed go out to the town for a job. After becoming a social entrepreneur; she feels like it’s her duty to spread the light of education to the young minds of village Kaloi. The children and elders of the village; though skeptical at first, are now freely sending their kids to the classes. They now know that a small investment in education today can definitely pay off in the future.