As India is progressing towards rapid development, with a focus on information and communication technology (ICT) as one of its main industries, having basic computer skills is almost a necessity. These skills will undoubtedly increase educational and employment opportunities for all.
TEWFI recently opened the Vicki Standish e-Education Centre on land adjacent to the Uluru Children’s Home (UCH). The local staff who run this centre conduct regular classes which provide necessary ICT education to a wide range of target groups. Current and past classes and training courses include:
- Basic computer skill classes for the children at UCH in the recent past.
- Present focus on computer facilitated learning for UCH children.
- Daily IT classes for children and youth from the wider community which attract large number of students. Classes range from basic computer skills to MS Powerpoint, Photoshop, Excel, Pagemaker and Macromedia Flash.
- Computer Education Programme (CPE) targetting the youth within the community who are reliant upon fishing for their livelihood. The CPE shows them the benefits and opportunities possible through the use of computers. A total of 39 young people from three communities (Kadapakkam, Thandumariamman and Othukauttamman Kuppams) were selected based on their interest and basic knowledge of English. Upon completion of the course they were provided a Certificate in Basic Computer Skills from Alternative for India Development (AID India).
- Basic computer skills classes are held for unemployed local youth during the day.
- Computer training classes are held for teachers and TEWFI staff in, for example, the usage of Tamil-based software.
- Sunday access to computers is provided for a teacher and group of children from the local primary school.
- A successful workshop was held in May 2008 on the use of educational software for 13 primary teachers from the villages of Kadapakkam, Alamparai, Vembanur and Kolaturi.
- Further workshops are planned, for example, on basic Linux usage.
In addition to enabling the teaching of basic computer skills, the use of computers as a teaching tool is important as this allows children to work at their own pace, and motivates self-directed learning. Recently, the e-Education Centre has become a place for computer facilitated learning after the generous donation of software from the Azim Premji Foundation. This software is for students of Classes 1 through 8, in the areas of Tamil, Math, English, Science, Social Science and General Knowledge.
This software is currently used by the children at UCH, as part of their educational enrichment program in the evenings and during weekends. It is also popular with children from the wider community.