Skip to main content

Gujarat NGO provides wifi, tablets to poor saltpan workers' children of Kutch, official terms it "temporary solution"

By Our Representative
Even before the Gujarat government initiates its well-publicized decision to provide tablets costing Rs 1,000 to four lakh youths, an Ahmedabad-based NGO has begun a major experiment to train poor primary school children of the saltpan workaers in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) to use tablets as a learning tool with the use of wifi through mobile van.
Spread out in the vast expanse of LRK’s 5,000 sq km, around 8,000 families from the nearby villages come to the LRK post-monsoon for six months to produce salt to earn a livelihood. If earlier NGOs would run make-shift schools across the LRK, now the state government sets up temporary schools for the children of these families for six months.
Organized by Agariya Hit Rakshak Manch (AHRM), which has been working for the welfare of saltpan workers for the last over a decade, the wifi experiment is being supported by Delhi-based Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), which claims to have been working among 80 districts of India for overcoming the digital divide between the rich and the poor.
Talking with Counterview on the sidelines of a function in LRK, where little children were seen using tablets to learn arithmetic, English and Gujarati, DEF’s founding-director Osama Manzar said, “The current speed of wifi is 6 mbps, which we propose to increase to 20 mbps so that children are at ease to connect with the outside world with internet and improve their learning skills.”

Earlier, addressing the function, Manzar said, “Currently, we are providing wifi facilities for tablets donated to schools to the children of seven LRK schools. We plan to take it to 14 temporary schools within six months.. Our mission is to demonstrate that internet is no rocket science, it can be part a child’s play, a part everyday life for the poor.”
At the temporary school, set up in a tent next to the function site, children were seen using voice recognition to reach out to internet, as they do not know typing. Using youtube, one of the children, Anil told Counterview, “See we can learn ABCD on tablet! It’s so simple!” Added Sagar, another child, “All of us know how to use it now. It’s a great friend.”
AHRM director Harinesh Pandya said, “The internet facility will also be used for connecting saltpan workers’ children with the permanent schoolsoperating in the villages surrounding the LRK. With the help of the facility, the teachers could teach English and arithmetic on internet.” He hoped, donors would come forward to provide more wifi vans and tablets.
Added ARRM’s senior activist Pankti Jog, “Tablets connected with wifi to children is, however, not the only aim of providing internet facility in the LRK. We want to create a complete data base of around 8,500 families who come every year to produce salt in the region. They use up just 2.5% of 5,500 sq km area, yet they are harassed and sought to be displaced, as the saltpans operate in the wild ass sanctuary.”
Critical of the NGO experiment, a Gujarat government official of the Sharva Shiksha Abhiyan official, Punabhai Vakatar said, “These are all temporary measures to bring in children to the mainstream. Unfortunately, none of the several NGOs working for the welfare of the saltpan workers’ children have looked for finding a permanent solution provided by us – to make children live in residential schools set up in several of the villages surrounding LRK. It’s all free.”
Contradicting , Jog told Counterview, “What government officials do not recognize is, while children of the upper primary go agree to stay in residential schools set up by the government, the children studying in classes one to five find it difficult to part with their parents. They are therefore brought into LRK by them.”

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".