Written by Rishikesh Patankar, Ph.D. on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)
The need for digital literacy in a country as populous and diverse as India is critical. The gap between limited availability of resources as against vast requirement could be addressed by use of technology. Technology can provide effective ways to scale up solutions and bridge the gaps. The technology and connectivity together can make a huge difference to the socio-economic levels of a community, and ultimately, the country, true progress comes from inclusive growth.
The Government of India has launched ‘Digital India’ – A programme to transform India into digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. The Digital India programme envisages to ensure that Government services are available to citizens electronically. Under the ‘e-Kranti – Electronic Delivery of Services’, one of the initiatives includes ‘Technology for Education – e-Education’ under which ‘Universal Digital Literacy’ at the National level is envisaged.
I would like to share the experience gained in implementation of a successful Digital Literacy programme across India, led by CSC.
THE NEED FOR DIGITAL LITEREACY IN INDIA
The technology and connectivity could be utilized effectively for delivery of education, healthcare, citizen services, financial services etc. The true potential for these aspects can only be realized if all the citizens are made digitally literate.
The key is to have sustained efforts by harnessing collective energies, strengthening partnerships and leveraging them to pull down the divisive digital wall.
Digital literacy is therefore a key component of the Government’s vision of building an empowered society as envisaged under “Digital India initiative”. Spinoff effects of digital literacy especially in the context of rural India would address a number of socio-economic issues.
- Rural population can gain immensely from the ‘Digital Literacy’.
- ‘Digital Literacy’ would bring the benefits of ICT to daily lives of rural population in the major thrust areas of Healthcare, Livelihood generation and Education.
DIGITAL LITERACY GAP
As per Census of India 2011, 68.84 % (883 Mn) of population resides in rural India. The number of rural households is 168 million. 5.2% of these rural households possess a computer.
Computer Literacy (who can operate a computer) by age group in rural India:
14-29 years – 18%
30-45 years – 4%
46-60 years – 1%
In addition, a significant number of these households don’t have computer access and are likely to be digitally illiterate.
IMPLEMENTATION OF DIGITAL LITERACY
The implementation of the PMGDISHA Scheme is being carried out by the CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd. (CSC-SPV) which acts as the Programme Management Unit (PMU). More than 250,000 Training Centres have been empaneled under PMGDISHA to provide enrollment/training to the candidates. The Training Centres are spread across the country and are participating in achieving the goal of making India digitally literate.
In the years 2014 to 2016, two Schemes entitled “National Digital Literacy Mission” (NDLM) and “Digital Saksharta Abhiyan” (DISHA) were implemented with certification of 5.4 million candidates, out of which around 42% candidates were from rural India.
In February, 2017, the Government approved a scheme titled “Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan” (PMGDISHA) for ushering in digital literacy in rural India by covering 60 Million households.
Under this Scheme, as on 08/01/2022:
– 54.5 Mn candidates have been enrolled
– 46.2 Mn candidates have completed the training
– 34.30 Mn have been certified
- Online Portal, Real-time Online Monitoring Tool for Analytics & Reports (www.pmgdisha.in )
- Handbook & Multimedia content (in 22 Scheduled languages of India and English)
- Mon-Sun, between (8 AM to 8 PM) we conduct online Remotely Proctored Examination System
- Digital Signed Certificates are generated for all passed candidates. Digital Locker has been integrated with the system
WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE THIS ALONE
We had the support and capability of the below companies in carrying out this humongous task through their CSR initiatives.
- McAfee Software India Pvt Ltd.
- IndusInd Bank
- Mahindra Rural Housing Finance Ltd
- Learning Links Foundation
- Capgemini Technology Services India Ltd.
- Dell Technologies
- HelpAge India
- Vodafone India Foundation
- NASSCOM Foundation
3 impact assessment studies of the Scheme were carried out by:
- The Council for Social Development (CSD) in 2017-18.
- Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Delhi in the year 2019.
- Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) in FY 2020-21.
The aim of the study was to analyze the ground level situation of the scheme with a larger aspect of continuation of the scheme.
The brief highlights of the impact assessment reports are:
- PMGDISHA training has had a formidable impact on the use of ICT and other forms of digital media
- 59% of the respondents stated that after attending the IT literacy training, their digital ability & confidence levels using digital has increased
- Women participation is very large and their inclusion at the rural level will open the path for the learning of the whole family.
- However, less participation of very poor and very illiterate was observed
We are very proud the Digital literacy drive continues in the country, aided with the integration, and help of NGOs and others under the leadership of CSCs.
Facilitated by PMGDISHA (Universal Digital Literacy for Rural India through Prime Minister Rural Digital Literacy Mission)
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