BridgeIT uses technology to build literacy and encourage entrepreneurship in disadvantaged India.
While India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, many rural villages and communities are suffering from a lack of opportunities. Less than half of all children in India’s villages attend school. Approximately one third of village adults are illiterate. And social discrimination against people of “dalit” background (lower caste) results in limited opportunity to develop skills and capabilities.
But a growing number of villagers are able to cross the digital divide and, in some cases, start small businesses thanks to BridgeIT, a collaboration between TCS and the National Confederation of Dalit and Adivasi Organisations (NACDAOR), an Indian non-governmental organization (NGO) that works for the betterment of people across the country.
“We wanted to leverage our strength as an IT company and use it for the betterment of communities,” said Joseph Sunil Nallapalli, who leads BridgeIT at TCS. “With the help of NACDAOR, we trained and equipped young people with digital tools so that they would train more people.”
Uma Devi, a determined 20-year-old from the village of Bharatpura in central India, demonstrates how BridgeIT works. Devi had to work hard to convince her parents she should go to high school, but when she got there, she learned about computing. Then, through the efforts of BridgeIT, she got her own laptop and the coaching to help her teach others.
Uma gets a laptop and work; villagers get access to learning and literacy.
Uma soon began teaching basic computer skills to schoolchildren during the day and computer-based functional literacy to adults in the evenings—leveraging the tools BridgeIT gave her and multiplying the impact of computer literacy. She also uses her laptop to earn money by providing services such as booking railway tickets and completing online forms for villagers.
Bridge IT demonstrates the use of IT as an enabler in primary education and adult literacy and helps create digital entrepreneurs who help local citizens. The presence of computers in the classrooms improves attendance (up 52% in most schools); children want to participate, and parents see the value of learning computer skills.
“I learned to use computers from a coaching class. After six months, through BridgeIT, I am able to train and coach others in computers too.”