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Demystifying Technology for the Underprivileged High School Students
 - Bhaskar Nagaraja

 Introduction

 

Demystifying Technology for the Underprivileged High School Students – the program was started by a large Semiconductor manufacturing MNC and the main objective is to provide free computer awareness and computer education to rural, government, under privileged high school students who cannot afford it. An initiative to make them computer literate, ignite the interest in technology, especially computers, in their mind so that they understand the role of computers in today's world, understand how fast world is moving with computing and what are the various opportunities available for them to develop the skills. This project also gives an opportunity for the students to see the real time latest computing devices which we display and demo. Also, we plan to setup computer labs at high schools with good strength of students, through MNC’s provided water fall computers/laptops.

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In Bangalore – the IT hub of the country and corporate headquarter of this company, a huge gap exists among the privileged and the underprivileged people in the city, in terms of understanding and appreciation of technology and its potential – that it was not an 'elitist & complicated' tool but one that was 'wondrous' and could transform lives. Accordingly, I developed a strategy of focusing on the un-included segments within the city, especially children from underprivileged rural backgrounds and women for a project to 'demystify' technology for them and ignite interest in technology at the grassroots. Team designed and ran sessions for 'demystifying microprocessors' for over 3445 children underserved from 18 high schools in and around Bangalore, many of them from rural backgrounds through fun and interactive workshops where volunteers not only talked about the need and benefit of technology in daily life, computer architectures and applications, but also carried a variety of devices with them in a mobile experiential lab mode, so that children who would never get an opportunity to get exposed to these concepts get to actually explore, touch and feel the devices, and get excited about careers in technology – which from being 'complicated and remote' now appeared 'fun, easy and attainable'.

 

In 2 hours of workshop we go through day to day examples of how computers are used through presentation slides, videos and demos. We talk about history of computers, how it evolved from Abacus to today's smartphone / tablets. We showcase different forms of computing devices like Ultra-book, Netbook, Classmate PC, Tablet, Smartphones, Mother board, Microprocessor. Also, we talk about examples of how Animations and Graphics are made using computers.

 

Then little bit of Intel and microprocessor- microprocessor works for Computers like brain works for human being. Finally, a quiz is conducted and small prizes are given for correct responses. The session ends with display of all latest devices where students can look and ask if they have questions about them.

Execution

 

Team has been successful in running a dedicated sustained yearlong campaign which included the largest ever individual volunteer driven mobilization of MNC’s employees – 492 EEs agreed to partner and join in this endeavour!!! It was a huge challenge getting the sustained interest and support of so many employees, coordinating with them, training them through train the trainer sessions.

 

Team also coordinated with the Innovation Centre at Folsom, MNC's IT to understand how the Innovation centre works, how it caters to the school students and mobilized devices like Motherboard, RAM, Microprocessor, Classmate PC, Classmate tablet, Netbook, Tablet, Ultra-book, Convertible, Detachable, Smartphones to give the children a mobile experiential experience of interacting with technology.
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Team worked with internal MNC's groups to get the latest devices, including unreleased devices, on lease basis. To further sustain the interest developed by the children, we mobilized waterfall PCs and helped set up a lab at DMM School Dommasandra, Anjana Vidya Kendra.

 

This project is running at 0 $. All the devices are leased / borrowed from MNC's Internal groups and returned after the session. Volunteers manage the quiz prizes and travel cost by carpooling.

 

So overall 0 $ project with high returns!

 

Project Sustainability, Monitoring and Evaluation

 

MNC's Volunteers and NGO follow the following step:
 
  1. Revisit the schools every 3 months to see how students have utilized the education.
  2. Computer usage contest is conducted every year, where we invite 2 students from each school to our MNC's campus and present on what they have learnt on computers and how they have used them. Winning students are rewarded.
  3. Once the computer lab is setup, we plan to visit them in 3 months to make sure the lab is in use.
  4. Currently, sessions are conducted weekly or bi-weekly in schools but we continue to increase this with multiple sessions being conducted at different schools on same day. This way every volunteer will get to teach the children and many senior volunteers will be driving these parallel sessions.
  5. Teaching material is improved regularly to make it interesting for both volunteers and students.

Contributions

 

The impact of this project is best captured in the words of one of its beneficiaries. Says Dr. Raju, a renowned scientist and Founder of Brahmi Educational Trust – “As a participating NGO and school we believe this program stimulates innate abilities in children, demonstrates and exposes them to the world of technology and makes them believe it is not complex anymore. The program has been extremely useful in making children appreciate technology that has touched their lives in so many different ways. A child goes through a sense of achievement and fulfilment the moment he/she is able to answer (and earn a prize) what we consider obvious questions. 

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The feeling “I have seen”, “I have touched” and “Now I know” is beyond the description of any words. Everyone knows that these students only need a push and they are in no way inferior to their city counterparts. These sessions provide the much needed spark for the child to believe – he / she too can learn! Statistics so far