Dabar News 21st July

21st July 2014

Computer Training Project

One day recently we were chatting at a local café where, in addition to drinks and snacks, you can even buy a little petrol in an emergency. We were talking with some young people and discussing technology and modern science. One point in particular that came out was the important role that computers and the internet play these days and how the new technology is very much more accessible in the main towns than in the villages.

In the villages very few people have a computer whereas in the towns most people have a computer at home and they will have started becoming familiar with the new technology in their childhood. Young people in the villages miss out on this opportunity and this very much puts them at a disadvantage when they are looking for jobs. In more and more offices it is now essential to have computer skills in order even to be considered for employment. Our aim is to give our young people the skills they need better to compete in today’s job market.

We had a long discussion while I was there. I was very much struck by what had been said and discussed it afterwards with PA Foundation members and staff.

We surveyed the young people in local villages, applying the principles of the Ten Seeds Programme, and learned of many of their concerns regarding the future. Local young people felt that urban boys and girls were better able to advance because they already had training, knowledge and experience of computers. They also were at a disadvantage financially. In the villages many families live below the poverty line and it would be out of the question to be able to  afford computer training for their sons and daughters.

As a result we decided to include Free Computer Training as one of our major project goals for 2014. This meant we needed to draw up a proposal with an estimated budget,  to set up the necessary physical infrastructure, to select experienced teachers, to design a syllabus and so on.

And, not least, we had to begin a search for funding. Our young people are very enthusiastic and have kept on asking when they could start their training. But we needed to find at least part of the funding to make a start.

Some of  you may know of Robert Lush, who has been a very good supporter, friend and guide to us for a long time. He is staying with me here in Dabar and the young people often discuss these issues of training with him too. He is here working with some of my other colleagues on a long term project to archive the film we made of our traditional song and dance and interviews with accomplished local artists.

Robert is financing this major research project. However, recognising how important this computer training is, we have decided to divert some of the money earmarked for the archiving project so that we can start the computer training project now.

Everybody here is very excited about this project. The first offering of the course will last six months, with classes on three days a week, and cater for 30 boys and 30 girls. Above you can see some of printed advertisements we posted in nearby villages with information about the course, the admission dates and other details.  Below you see the new students registering. The young people are eager to get started. On the very  first day, twenty boys and fifteen girls came forward to register and we have already now nearly reached our quota of sixty.

So this month we are making preparations to start teaching and training at the beginning of August. We have engaged a professional computer teacher. We have renovated, repainted and installed new power points in the room at the school which we are converting into our computer training centre. We have bought four computers with tables and twenty stools. Thanks again to Robert for his help getting this very worthwhile project underway.

So now that we have managed to purchase and arrange the physical infrastructure requirements, we need to fund the salaries to be paid to the theory teacher and  supervisors for the practical sessions, plus maintenance and running costs. We estimate the amount required for the first year to be around A$3,600. Broken down in rupees this is:

54,000 = Theory teacher 4,500 x 12 months
84,000 = Practical teachers 3,500 x 2 teachers x 12 months
24,000 = Computer lab attendant 2,000 x 12 months
14,400 = Electricity bill 1,200 x 12 months
  6,000 = Computer maintenance 1,500 x 4 quarters
Total 182,400 Rupees or about A$ 3,600

We have now put a proposal forward to PAI Australia. Robyn Ramsay suggested we also make representations through her to Apex Club Maleny, who sponsored the library which has become such an important part of our community projects. Unfortunately our timing was bad because Robyn then had to be out of station for three months. Ideally we would  waited for her return before we tried to progress but we are trying to make a start now because we do not want to risk dampening our students’ enthusiasm.

Those participting will  get a real boost to their employment prospects. We see it as helping them along on a path to greater self reliance and independence.

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