Bright screens, dim future: A peek into the computer lab

Clicking on the future

Burhaan Kinu

A little more than 4000 boys share 10 computer terminals at the Government Boys Senior Secondary School in Sangam Vihar. The computer lab was set up last year to familiarise middle school students with computers.

But for Class 12 students like Kshetrapal Singh, the lab has come too late. His humanities section has no computer periods. "Of everything taught in school, the only subject that can get me a proper job is computers," said Kshetrapal, "And that's the one thing they aren't teaching me."

Yet, despite the absence of formal training, computers have proliferated Sangam Vihar's congested alleys

A class 10 student at the Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya at Sangam Vihar, Arman Ahmad learnt how to assemble, dissemble and fix computers by working extra hours at his uncle's computer repair shop. "Next year, I want to study computer science in Class 11," Arman said.

Rahul got his first computer as a gift from his mother. His mother, who works as a domestic worker, in South Delhi got the machine from one of her employers. Rahul's father runs a small food stall in Sangam Vihar.

"I enrolled in a course to learn how to use it," said Rahul, who now uses the machine to complete assignments for Indira Gandhi Open University, where he is a first year student in the Bachelors of Commerce Programme.

For Faheem, learning to design on a computer made it possible to set up a small company to make personalised t-shirts, key chains, and uniforms.

The computer is a vital part of the photo-studio run by Bharat Kohli and his brother. "I finished class 12 and started this business," said Kohli, "But our earnings barely cover the rent of the studio and the electricity bill."