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Computer education on wheels

In a unique experiment, the Pune Municipal Corporation will drive home the Information Technology mantra to slum dwellers and other disadvantaged groups in the city, reports Satyajit Joshi.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2009 01:06 IST
Satyajit Joshi

Computer literacy is a bus ride away.

In a unique experiment, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will drive home the Information Technology mantra to slum dwellers and other disadvantaged groups in the city. Called “Sharad Van”, the Volvo buses are expected to be operational in a fortnight.

The motivation behind the venture is Vidya Pratishthan, a scheme in Baramati started by Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar that involved buses with computers on them going to villages to spread computer literacy.

PMC Joint Commissioner A.V. Kalamkar told Hindustan Times that the project would target the illiterate and semi-literate, women and unemployed youngsters.

Civic officials have chalked out a three-month course with the help of computer experts, and areas in the city are being identified for implementation. The civic body has spent nearly Rs 1.50 crore for the buses, which will come with a back-up power facility. “At least 36 people can be trained at a time,” Kalamkar said, adding that they planned to make 1,500 people computer literate within a year.

The syllabus had been prepared to ensure that people who did not understand English could become computer literate, he said.

People from areas where the buses are parked can join the mobile computer class without paying any fees. Kalamkar believes the experiment will also help the city in boosting its image as an IT hub. “Even illiterate housewives can earn a living after receiving this education,” he said.

Kamalakar Garudkar, an industrial worker from the city’s Kothrud area, said he would ask his family to join the computer class when one of the buses comes to his neighbourhood. “Computer education is very expensive otherwise,” he said.

Corporators have also supported the project, undertaken as part of the civic urban community development scheme.