While CACR volunteers were busy implementing the Computer Literacy Program for children in Municipal Schools across Mumbai, there were three important points which were to be looked into:-
- How do we ensure that about 4 lakh children in Municipal Schools get an opportunity to become Computer Literate?
- Why are the teachers not getting involved in this important subject, despite each one of them having MSCIT certificates?
- There were only 143 Municipal Schools having Computer Labs and quite a few computers were nonfunctional and unusable.
It was extremely important to get teachers involved since CACR firmly believes that the system should be supported but never replaced, so Training the Teachers Program was initiated with the permission of the BMC Education Department.
Since the regular teachers were preoccupied with existing timetable for curriculum based subjects, it was decided by the BMC Education Department that part time BMC teachers, who were involved with teaching Work Experience, Art and Craft should be given hands on training and a 10 sessions program was devised based on teaching MS Office effectively(introduction to hardware, MS Word, Excel and Power Point as well as short cut to using keys, etc)
While the sessions were in progress, our Master Trainers(professionals and youth volunteers from various colleges) observed that most of the teachers had a basic knowledge of Computers but since they did not get any hands on training earlier, they were very keen to learn and appreciate the efforts of our trainers, who went around in a very systematic manner and completed the 10 sessions with an assessment of the teachers in 12 URCs (Training Centre’s with Computer Labs), the result being more than 300 teachers were the beneficiaries of CACR’s program.
Also parallely CACR kept up the pressure with the BMC Education Department to include Computer Literacy in the timetable, without which it would have been difficult for all children to use the Computer Lab and get an opportunity to become Computer Literate, and our efforts yielded results here as well, since the Department issued a circular to all the trained teachers to start teaching children in Municipal Schools at least twice a week.
Importantly, during our meetings with the hierarchy, we discussed this important issue of having Computer Labs in every Municipal School Building and also maintenance, anti virus, etc and it was nice of the Chairperson of the Education Committee to sanction a budget of Rs.17 crores for setting up 200 additional computer labs in Municipal Schools in 2015-16 and also another Rs.17 crores for the academic year 2016-17 as well.
CACR also started interacting with the IT Department and the agency responsible for maintenance of computers in Municipal School, and this has started the process of ensuring that maximum number of functional computers are available in every Municipal School.
Now the real test begins during the academic year 2016-17, when we actually start observing the teachers and help them in implementing the program for the actual beneficiaries, the children, which will help in creating a multiplier effect and thousands of children will get an opportunity to handle computers and learn to use it effectively.
However, since there are 1100+ Municipal Schools in Mumbai, CACR still believes that there should be at least one computer teacher per school available at any given point of time, so will once again continue to work with the department and look out for excess teachers available, who can again undergo the hands on training sessions during the year, the objective being that a pool of 1000+ computer literate teachers are available in Municipal Schools.
The BMC Education Department has also initiated the positive step of providing Internet enabled Computer to every HM to help them with administrative work, so it will be a boon if the teachers are also well trained to handle both administrative work as well as teach children in Municipal Schools.