Igniting the Fire of Technology Education
I belong to a place where only a few have smartphones, and even fewer know how to use them effectively. Laptops are found only in a select few homes. The Rukmini Foundation has an ambitious plan to bring revolutionary changes in the technology sector in Pharping. The foundation has always been at the forefront of small and big changes that positively impact the community. Sashi Guru, one of the esteemed community leaders, aptly expressed, “We need to ignite the fire of technology, so that everyone in the village can learn and use technology.”
However, the path to achieving this ambitious goal was riddled with challenges. How could we unleash a technology explosion in a place where hardware was scarce and software knowledge was virtually nonexistent? Undeterred, the foundation had already embarked on its roadmap with the DEEP program. Before my involvement, the foundation had procured 60 laptops, with 25 distributed to Setidevi School. Usha Poudel, a dedicated member, initiated the Basic Computer Training for Teachers at Setidevi, equipping them with essential computer skills. More information is available here: Bridging the Digital Divide: Taking the First Steps – Rukmini Foundation
The road from Setidevi to Pharping
My journey with the DEEP program also started at Setidevi School. Tamanna Rai and Sirjana Waiba are also helping me with this training session. Before I describe the training, a few words about Setidevi. Setidevi is in the small town of Talku, which is about three miles from our office. All three of us walk to school in the morning and walk back in the evening. Our sessions in Setidevi went so well that people started to demand more programs from all over the community.
After our sessions in Setidevi, the foundation started an Advanced Computer Course for the residents of Pharping. Because of the high demand and different levels of learners, we created 3 shifts that focused on basic to advanced levels of computer training. All three shifts had different kinds of learners. The first one was for advanced users who had some knowledge of computers. This shift had job seekers and school graduates. The second shift focused on computer basics. In this shift, we mainly had local females who knew very little about computers. Still, they had so much curiosity and enthusiasm. The third shift consisted of current students who always wanted to learn more.
Recalling the Aspirations
While I reflect on these shifts and students, I recall my dad’s wish that I would become a medical doctor. However, I did not want to become a doctor because I was too scared. I thought I would become a different “doctor”; I dreamed of completing a Ph.D. in English and becoming Dr. Roshani of English. I still want to pursue that path, but I also realize that becoming a professor is a huge responsibility, and I am unsure if I have the necessary skill set. Working with the foundation and specifically working on this DEEP program, I am fortunate to develop the skills I need to pursue my future endeavors. Through these training sessions, I learned not just to teach the content but to provide practical lessons and instill motivation in the learners. I was also motivated by all the participants in these three shifts.
Small Frog Trapped in a Small Well
The learners on the first shift mostly worked or were job seekers. Despite the busy regular job hours, they took the time to learn new skills. I learned time management skills from this group. The third shift had the current students, and sometimes they would explore the topics and tasks beyond the lesson plans. They taught me how to prepare (perhaps even be over-prepared). However, I was inspired mainly by the second shift.
The second shift had all females, primarily housewives. Nepal is a developing country struggling to uplift its citizens. Housewives are left behind, often an afterthought. Housewives are meant to cook, clean, look after kids, and look after the crops and the fields. They were intended to be housebound. In Nepali, the saying “kuwako bhyaguta” roughly translates as “small frog in a small well .” These are our housewives.
Here are some key points about their participation in the computer training: first, being conscious of the importance of learning about computers is quite impressive. Second, finding the time for learning is very challenging for these women. They are still expected to do all the chores. Keeping up with their busy workload and finding time for training is quite a dedication. Third, it takes courage to get out of our routine. It would be easy to give in to the idea of being homebound and just stick to the daily tasks. But these women displayed extraordinary courage to challenge these old notions. I was proud to teach these women with personalities filled with perseverance. These women give me confidence that we can bring the boom of technology to our communities.
I am thankful that the foundation allowed me to be in these inspiring moments with these women, men, and school children. I cannot thank the foundation enough.
Learning about computers was not the end of the road for these women. At the end of the two-month session (26 February – 27 April), we conducted the certification test for the learners. All the learners passed the test. This was our first DEEP program, and it was very successful. For our next training, we posted our program interest form on Facebook. Within 10 days, we received 70 applications for the training. Another mark of our success is that we selected 2 trainers from our first training. Now, the learners from the past will be trainers for the future session. This is how we plan to grow.
Maa (Laxmi Aryal) and Basu Sir (Basu Aryal) keep reminding us that DEEP is quite an appropriate name for the program. Deep means light in Nepali, which has brought light to our community. I would also like to add that our Usha (Usha Adhikari), the meaning of her name, is dawn. Usha also has ushered in a new dawn for our program. My predecessor, Usha Poudel, did the framework and laid the foundation for the program. She brought the dawn in DEEP. My name, Roshani (also means light in Nepali), is helping to illuminate the technology dark spots in our community.
My sincere thanks to the foundation for having faith in me. I am very happy for the motivation and opportunity to learn new things. Thank you to the Rukmini Foundation for believing in me. Because of your encouragement, I will continue to be Roshani.
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