Adding Tech Edge To Education

Updated: Nov 9 2003, 05:30am hrs
For computer giant Intel, innovation in education is a step forward for computer literacy for the underprivileged. The company has undertaken a series of programmes in India where it works with non-governmental organisations to increase access to technology among disadvantaged segments of the society.

As a part of the community-based education programme, the company has started two computer clubhouses, one in Delhi and the other in Bangalore. Called Intel Computer Clubhouse, it gives youth in underserved communities access to computers through proper mentoring and instruction. It is based on the belief that adolescents learn most effectively when they are engaged in designing and creating projects, rather than memorising facts or learning isolated skills out of context. The clubhouse provides an enabling environment where youth interact with adult mentors to explore their own ideas, develop skills and build confidence, says Paige Kuni, head, Intel Worldwide Education Programme (IWEP).

The Intel Computer Clubhouse in Delhi is situated in Katha Public School in Govindpuri. The clubhouse follows a model that is based on the idea of supporting learning through design experiences and helping youth build on their own interests and projects.

Children, who are members of the clubhouse, are involved in a variety of activities centered around creative expression, community development and personality skills development. They work on various projects that would help in bringing about a change in their communityon water, health surveys, housing redesign and area mapping. The children are also involved in workshops on topics like safety and nutrition, personality development and media entrepreneurship.

Apart from the children, many underprivileged people of Govindpuri visit the clubhouse to learn skills that are required by them to run business efficiently. Technology here is being used as an efficient productivity tool. A 20-member women self-help group is using technology for creating designs to make their embroidery work more contemporary, says Parvinder Kaur, principal, Katha Public School.

Some of the projects undertaken at Intel Computer Clubhouse at Katha are: KhojThe Search Water project; GrediGovindpuri Redesign Initiative; KTNKatha Television Network; Khel TamashaThe writers space; Bal Panchayat The dreamers road to action.

In the water project, collected water samples are examined under the microscope, information on germs and its ill effects are collected from the Internet and then the remedies are suggested to people from whom the samples were collected. In this way, the people of the community are made aware of the fata, diseases and the precautions that they need to take.

Similarly, the Gredi is a geographic information system (GIC) project in which members have mapped a given locality at Govindpuri. This has lead to students studying, understanding and putting the GIS work on improving their urban environment using computers and advanced software.

For the first generation learners using the computers to do various projects is a dream come true. Says Rajesh, 15, who wants to become a tailor. I have learnt various cuts and styles using the computers here. It really helps me to understand designs. Similarly, Vikas, 18, is learning the nuances of desk top publishing using the clubhouse computers. Its so easy to learn with mentors and I shall invest in a computer and start my own business, says the budding entrepreneur.

The second Intel Computer Clubhouse is located at Children Lovesastles Trust in Jakkur, Bangalore. It aims to provide a conducive, interactive and creative environment in education to children from nearby government schools and schools dropouts. It also aims to reach out to parents and womens group in the locality. The clubhouse has recently increased its reach from 500 to 1,500 youth from 10 surrounding villages in Jakkur. These two clubhouses are our models in India and after research we shall be opening up several others in the country in the future, says Debjani Ghosh, regional education manager, Asia, Intel.

There are currently over 60 Intel Computer Clubhouse in 10 countries. The concept has won the 1997 Peter F Drucker Award for Non-Profit Innovation.