Reaching out to the urban
poor in India and providing them with an exposure to
ICT, the National Institute for Information Technology
Limited has set up its Hole-In-The-Wall Training
Systems throughout New Delhi and Mysore. In early
1999, NIIT set up continuous video
tape monitoring of a computer that they had set up in
a slum area in New Delhi. The video showed that young
boys and girls from the settlement became highly
proficient at using various features of the computer
regardless of lack of proficiency in English, and
without any instruction. Due to its success,
the model is being replicated across the country.
Contact: Dr. Sugata Mitra, Senior
Vice -President & Chief Scientist, National
Institute for Information Technology Limited,
Corporate Centre, 8, Balaji Estate, Sudarshan Munjal
Marg Kalkaji, New Delhi 110019, INDIA E-mail: email@example.com
Tel No: 91 11 620 3409 Fax No: 91 11 620 3499,
620 3333 www.indiachi.com/leadstory.htm
I-write and I-learn packages for the physically challenged; a
television-based distance learning project; AIDS prevention;
conversion into Braille.
Blending business with social commitment
NIIT is a company with a strong social consciousness that
gives it a humane face. As an organisation that blends
knowledge and technology to touch the lives of ordinary
people, corporate social responsibility is part of our very
core-deeply embedded in our genes, as it were
Over the years, we have endeavoured to narrow the digital
divide in India and provide equal opportunities to the
meritorious and deserving citizens of the country. NIIT has
launched numerous initiatives to contribute towards India's
social development as a good corporate citizen.
Defined as social entrepreneurship or enlightened self
interest, movements such as the World Computer Literacy Day (WCLD),
initiated by NIIT in 2001, have helped spread the light of IT
knowledge among all sections of society.
From tribals in Andhra Pradesh to members of state
legislative assemblies; from Nigerian ladies to villagers near
Jodhpur in Rajasthan; from the physically challenged children
of Dimapur's School for the Deaf to inmates at Tihar Jail;
from senior bureaucrats, army personnel, educationists and
celebrities to the citizen-on-the-street, WCLD has brought
people from all walks of life into the IT fold.
International Women's Month (IWM), yet another NIIT
innovation, was launched with the idea of uplifting Indian
women, through the tool of computer literacy. IT is one of the
few professions where women — on the basis of brain, rather
than brawn power — can stand among men as equals. NIIT
recognised this reality and launched IWM, not just to
IT-enable them but also obliterate the gender divide.
Major pioneering work has been undertaken by NIIT to
acquaint physically challenged persons such as spastics, the
deaf and the blind with IT. NIIT has introduced special
computer training for the visually impaired, to help them
become employable and productive.
In a unique project with the National Association of the
Blind (NAB), Bangalore, NIIT made available its Swift India
courseware to the institution, which was converted into
Braille. NIIT trained students and staff members of NAB to
enable blind students to gain computer literacy.
With a view to making the disabled of the country
self-reliant, NIIT developed I-Learn, an innovative
educational system. For spastics, NIIT created CATERED, A
Computer Assisted Teaching and Rehabilitation programme. A
special software application, meanwhile, was developed by NIIT
to provide interactive support to the physically handicapped.
NIIT had also been involved, alongside organisations such
as UNDP and NIS to create awareness about AIDS. NIIT harnessed
its training skills and infrastructure to educate Indian youth
about HIV/AIDS and bring about the required attitudinal change
for the effective prevention of the dreaded disease.
Another instance of NIIT's commitment to the youth is the
NIIT Bhavishya Jyoti Scholarships (BJS) programme, that awards
fee waivers, ranging from 25% to 100% to deserving students
from all sections of society. The BJS has ensured that the
financially challenged, yet meritorious youngsters are
included in the magic circle of IT learners. On the flip side,
it has also made available to the IT sector a pool of
brilliant and competent professionals who would otherwise not
have been able to come to the forefront.
Possibly the most radical idea to come out of NIIT however
— and one that will take us into a new realm of computer
education delivery — is the Hole-in-the-Wall experiment
which focuses on taking education to children across the
world, at the lowest possible costs. Clearly, even research at
NIIT is targeted at fulfilling a social purpose and helping
people live more purposeful lives! The Hole-in-the-Wall, with
its enormous rub off on the populace, will help the benefits
of technology to flow to society at large.
As we move forward, we hope to elicit the help of Indian
and global companies in taking the movement forward and
proliferating it across the world.
The author is chief operating officer, NIIT Ltd