D 3141 charts out zero-cost computer centres

Boys learning computer at the centre set up by RC Palghar in the Urdu High School, Shirgaon.
Boys learning computer at the centre set up by RC Palghar in the Urdu High School, Shirgaon.

On the skill development front, District 3141 has kicked off a novel project by opening four Computer Learning Centres — three in remote areas and one at the Rotary centre — to provide job-oriented training courses to underprivileged students.

The novelty of the project is that it entails “zero cost to the implementing club whose members only need to coordinate with the district and the school or campus which houses the computer centre,” says Rajesh Agrawal, District Avenue Chair, Skill Development from RC Bombay Airport. The Vedanta Foundation, the CSR arm of the ­conglomerate Vedanta group, is taking care of the entire infrastructure right from computers and furniture to faculty hiring, course structure, publicity material and ensuring 24×7 internet connectivity at these centres. “Vedanta will pay the electricity bills, while the space is given free of cost by the school or institution which is housing the computer facility,” says Agarwal.

No student will be turned away for want of money as the club will find large-hearted donors who will pay their tuition fees.

The objective of Vedanta is to ensure computer literacy across India and instead of providing ready cash, they set up the entire facilities on a turnkey basis and bear the recurring expenditure (or other exceptional spend) in running the computer centres. “A very modest fee is levied on the beneficiaries. But no student will be turned away for want of money as the club will find large-hearted donors who will pay their tuition fees.” At present, 250 students are enrolled in four centres and are attending the two-month course having a 90-hour curriculum package.

While a 2-month basic course is taught for a modest fee of ₹500, as against ₹3,500 being the norm in private institutes, for those interested in taking up a career in this field, an advanced course for 2–3 months is also held in which website designing, Tally and computer networking are taught for ₹3,000, as against ₹18,500 being charged by commercial institutes. Each centre is equipped with 10 computers fully integrated with the accessories and loaded with the original software. D-Link Academy, an IT training company, has installed CCTV cameras in each centre for remote monitoring of the facility and also offer skill training in computer networking to the students.

 

Participating clubs

During the inaugural phase between August and September, Rotary clubs of Dahanu, Mumbai Dahisar and Mumbai Ghatkopar have set up their computer centres in coordination with the district. The ­Ashramshala, a government initiative where children of nomadic families reside for school education, in Ganjad (Dahisar); Baba ­Harnamdas School at Tungareshwar, Vasai (Dahisar); and ­Bhimadri tribal school at Karjat in Raigad district (Mumbai Ghatkopar) have accommodated a centre each offering rural children from remote areas to acquire computer skills. The Rotary centre in Dahanu houses the computer facility in an urban area.

A computer centre in the Ashram School in Ganjad set up by RC Mumbai Dahisar.
A computer centre in the Ashram School in Ganjad set up by RC Mumbai Dahisar.

All the four computer centres were inaugurated by DG Prafull Sharma and following the overwhelming response for the pilot project, DGN Shashi Sharma has decided to further expand the initiative in the next year too, says Agrawal. “At the optimum level, each centre is fully equipped to turn out at least 400 qualified beneficiaries in a year.”

A beneficiary Ankita Sule at Ganjad is elated to get trained in computer skills. Hailing from a tribal community, “I now feel confident, communicate better and use emails and other basic programmes that had enhanced my interpersonal skills.”

 

Expansion chalked out

In December, three new centres — hosted by RC Palghar (Urdu school in Shirgaon); RC Bombay Airport (Boisar); and RC Mumbai Bay View (BDD chawl, Worli) — were inaugurated and three more will be opened by the end of January 2018.

DG Prafull Sharma has approved the plan of taking the ‘zero cost’ skill centre to Rotary districts across India and has communicated details about the model to all DGs. D 3141 will ­coordinate all activities till the inauguration of the computer centre. “So far six districts have responded to our offer. We are fully equipped to roll out this unique project across the country and interested clubs can contact us,” says Agrawal.

For more details ­contact: District Avenue Chair Rajesh Agrawal: 98204 45542.

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