By: Prapanna Lahiri
India is a country with more than half of its population living in more than 650000 villages spread across the length and breadth of the country. Sadly enough, the country’s impressive economic growth following the opening up of the economy in the nineties, has not benefited the vast rural population of these remote villages. The challenge of the policy planners lied in finding ways to end the isolation of this vast majority of rural population and bring them to be part of the process of modernisation. Digital literacy will make a world of difference to these rural folks, to the farmers and their families. They will be able to research information on fertiliser application and seed selection as well as obtain information about the latest market prices while negotiating the sale of their produce. This would significantly change the plight of farmers who were previously unable to accurately determine existing market prices.
The Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (DISHA) or National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) Scheme has been formulated to impart IT training to 52.5 lakh persons, including Anganwadi and ASHA workers and authorised ration dealers, in all the States and Union Territories across the country divided into 3 categories A, B and C. Besides training through government machinery, the scheme also stipulates participation of Industry, NGOs and others using their own resources/ under Corporate Social Responsibility.
Digital Literacy has been defined as “the ability of individuals and communities to understand and use digital technologies for meaningful actions within life situations”. This training aims at transforming the non-IT literate masses into IT literate citizens to empower them to actively and effectively participate in the democratic and developmental process, as also to enhance their livelihood. The vision to initiate the scheme is to empower at least one person per household with crucial digital literacy skills by 2020. The expectation is to touch the lives of more than 250 million individuals over the next few years. The aim of the project is to help adults with low technological literacy, acquire the skills they need to interact in an increasingly digital world.
The IT training envisaged under the NDLM Scheme is designed to be imparted under two levels with the following broad objectives, course duration and eligibility criteria:
- Appreciation of Digital Literacy (Level 1)
To make an individual, IT literate, so that he/ she is equipped with the skill to operate digital devices, like mobile phones, tablets, etc., send and receive e-mails and search Internet for information, etc. Training duration at this level is 20 Hours (Minimum 10 Days and Maximum 30 Days) and the eligibility criteria are Non-IT literate – Illiterate and up to 7th standard pass.
- Basics of Digital Literacy (Level 2)
Besides IT literacy (the skills mentioned above), at a higher level the citizen would also be trained to effectively access the various e-Governance services being offered to the citizen by the Government and other agencies. At this level, the training duration is 40 Hours (Minimum 20 Days and Maximum 60 Days) and the eligibility criteria are Non-IT literate with at least 8th standard pass.
Medium of instruction of both the levels: Official Languages of India
Fees: The training scheme provides for financial assistance of 75% of course fees for general category of trainees from both the levels 1 & 2 with balance 25% to be borne by trainees. For trainees from SC, ST and BPL Households in both the levels, financial assistance shall be 100%.
Age of trainees and the Training Centres: All households whereof no member in the age group of 14 to 60 years are IT literate shall be eligible under the programme to nominate one person from their family to be enrolled for training under the scheme in the nearest Training Centre/ Common Service Centre (CSC).
Evaluation: The programme envisages independent external evaluation of skills acquired by learners, by a National level certifying agency like NIELIT, NIOS, IGNOU, etc.
Government of India has launched the ambitious “Digital India” programme with the vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. An integral component of the Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India is to make one person in every family digitally literate by 2020.