Only 15 % of the population from rural India have access to the internet, and only 1/10 households have computers/smartphones/tablets, according to the National Statistical Office report of 2020. Another significant issue is that only 20% of Indian people above five years have basic digital literacy.
The problem runs much deeper in Andhra Pradesh, where only 1.5% of the rural population and 11.6 % of the urban population know how to use computers. While only 10.5 % of the rural and 29.5% of the urban population have the ability to access the internet.
The problem is very visible in the Ananthapuramu and Sri Sathya Sai districts, one of the most backward districts of Andhra Pradesh. Take, for instance, 9-year-old boy Sasha, who lives in Dharmavaram said, “I have never used a computer or have only seen them on television.” While the 13-year-old Naseema said she only used the computer once in her life.
In the hyper-connected world of the 21st century, digital literacy is essential for the children, the country’s future, to gain knowledge and employability while keeping up with the world and excelling. In the times when the world is digitising every aspect of life, from education to health care, employment to entertainment, it is a must that our children know how to use computers and access the internet.
To tackle the situation and provide access to quality computer education and the internet, RDT’s Sport for Development sector, Anantapur Sports Academy, is setting up a computer class and library to enable children to learn digital education in the Dharmavaram Sports and Education Centre.
RDT is building a new block that will have a computer lab with 15 computers and a library with story books in English, Telugu and Hindi. These facilities will enable 120 children (80 boys and 40 girls) in Dharmavaram, especially from underprivileged backgrounds, who attend the centre regularly to learn computer skills and cultivate reading habits from a younger age.
On 30th June, Bhoomi pooja (laying of foundation stone) took place in a ceremony at the centre. About 50 per cent of the construction costs were raised from various donors; RDT has launched the Building Futures campaign to raise the remaining funds and is encouraging people to come forward and donate to the welfare of the children in Dharmavaram.
Talking about the event, RDT Resource Mobilization Director Sagar Murthy said, “RDT runs 4 Sports and Educational Centres across the Anantapuramu and Sri Sathya Sai Districts. Moving forward, we are planning to standardise all centres. In those efforts, we are trying to develop the facilities and infrastructure in the centre in Dharmavaram to help children learn computers and English along with Sports. This new block will be very useful for the children and help their holistic development. We are grateful to donors who donated. We also encourage the community in Dharmavaram to come forward and contribute towards the cause.”
Talking to the attendees during the event, Prem Swaroop, a vocal supporter and donor of this campaign, said, “I strongly believe that the new computers and library will enable children in this centre to catch up with the world and open new windows for them to learn and gain knowledge. I am glad to be part of this and the opportunity to give back to society in remembrance of my father. Everybody has the power to dream and the potential to realise them; we are just equipping them with the tools to help in their endeavours. I request everyone to participate in this campaign and do your bit.”
Text: Ernest Abhishek Paul