This is a story of two differently-abled students, Etherson Momin and Sengdo Marak, from the hills of South Garo in Meghalaya. Their hearing and visual disabilities had been a barrier in becoming digitally literate, however they eagerness to learn beyond classrooms could not be withheld. So they made several attempts. They even joined a professional computer course but could not match pace with teachers and other students and had to eventually drop out. However, it wasn’t much later that they heard about DEF’s digital literacy centres in West Garo Hills and decided to give it another shot.
The faculty at the centre realised the challenges they were in for, and worked extra hard to help the new enthusiastic learners. Special classes were conducted where the trainer used large-sized images on a projector and sign language to train the students in digital tools. The digitally literate duo has now become an encouragement for others in the region, who are suffering from any disability, to become digitally empowered. Etherson and Sengdo have even promised to turn trainers at the centre for such students.
DEF’s digital resource centres are part of the Integrated Approach to Technology in Education (ITE) project, an initiative of the Tata Trusts, that is aimed at fostering higher order learning among primary and upper primary students. DEF is the implementation partner for the project in Nagaon district of Assam and West Garo Hills in Meghalaya where it operates three ITE Kendras each. These Kendra work with over 20 government schools, reaching out to more than 1,500 children and 50 government school teachers to introduce interactive learning and teaching methods. The ITE Kendras also provide free digital literacy classes to stakeholders and regularly host community programmes on various social and environment issues.