Sulekha Kumari, a Class 8 student, will always remember the day she learnt to use Microsoft Office and Microsoft Excel a month ago.
“I was elated after I learned to type on laptop. My school teaches computer from Class 9 onwards. But I learnt to operate computer in Class 8 itself,” said Sulekha.
It has been two months since she joined ‘computer classes on wheels’, an all-girl training initiative run by Shree Narayan Sanskratik Chetna Trust in Garhi Chaukhandi village to provide computer education to the underprivileged school girls.
For many in the urban cities, a 12-year-old typing on a computer or laptop may not be a feat. But for Sulekha, a girl born and brought up in Garhi Chaukhandi, a semi urban village, in Noida Sector 121, it is indeed an extraordinary achievement for her as well as her family.
“There are a few computers in my school but they do not function anymore and computer is taught only with books. My father is a carpenter and I had never used a laptop before joining this class,” said Sulekha.
Like Sulekha, 80 other girls are learning to operate computer in a van that has eight laptops and a trainer. For the past two months, the van has been stationed at the entrance of the village. Four batches of students are taught every day.
In the classes, students are taught basic computer operation along with applications such as notepad, MS Office, MS Excel and power point presentation.
Ruchi, a Class 12 student, wants to study medicine after her board examinations. She has never received any training in computer while in school and realises the importance of ‘school on wheels’ classes.
“I want to become a doctor and I know how much I lag behind compared to students from cities who will compete with me with their English-medium education and computer knowledge. For me, it is extremely important to learn basic computer operation. Nowadays, even forms for exams are filled online,” said Ruchi.
Ruchi and Sulekha’s thoughts are echoed by their trainer Deepmala Rani, who believes that underprivileged girls have little chance to learn computers. A diploma graduate in web designing and basic computer, Rani decided to teach girls as soon as she completed her education.
“I have lived in Noida and know that there is limited opportunity for girls to learn computer education in the city. That is why I decided to work as a teacher. It gives me immense satisfaction that my work will help other girls and inspire them,” said Rani.
Rani’s claims are not far-fetched. Some of her students are already ready to become a teacher after completing their education.
“I want to become a teacher after I complete my college education. Like our trainer, I also want to help other girls,” said Karishma Sutar, a Class 10 student.
Rajan Shrivastava, founder of Shree Narayan Sanskritik Chetna Trust, explained the reason behind running a mobile computer school.
“The trust has been founded in the memory of my parents to assist the underprivileged section of our society. When we visited Garhi Chaukhandi village, we found that the education system is not good. Therefore, we decided to run a computer school,” said Shrivastava.