Growell's primary strategy for imparting IT literacy involves producing and providing content in local languages. To support this strategy, Growell has engaged in a strategic alliance with Eazymind Technologies, which is authorised to submit, negotiate, and finalise financial and technical proposals for selling Growell products and for imparting IT education to schools, government institutions, private organisations, and NGOs in consultation with Growell. Based on its research, Growell introduced interactive multimedia Computer Based Training (CBT) CD-ROM tutors in Marathi, Hindi, and English. (Growell claims to be able to deliver solutions in any other Indian or international languages for mass IT literacy programmes.)
Another strategy involves enabling self-paced learning and providing what is intended to be a simple, user-friendly interface. The CBT tutors are designed to allow the learner to determine when he or she is ready to move to the next topic, repeating steps when needed. The CD-ROMs cover Windows, DOS fundamentals, computer fundamentals, MS excel, MS word, MS powerpoint, MS outlook, MS access, and Internet fundamentals. Along with this set of educational software, Growell has solutions for Page Maker, Corel draw, Front Page, Visual Basic, and Flash.
The Maharashtra State Board for Secondary and Higher Secondary Education selected IT Vidya educational software/CD-ROMs for delivery to 103 schools in high-poverty areas of Maharashtra. The schools are located in the remote villages and towns of Amravati, Satara, Dhule, Yavatmal, Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur, Parbhani, Nanded, and Hingoli districts.
According to Growell, "information poverty" is India's largest problem. Only a small percentage of the population is able to participate in and take advantage of the IT revolution - this gap creates a digital divide. Organisers cite these figures: 95% of the Indian population can't speak English and only 5% are IT literate. Out of the 55 countries surveyed by International Data Corporation (IDC), India is ranked 54th in IT literacy. Growell claims that ongoing research has shown that training and learning is maximised when training is imparted in a language with which the user is familiar. This is applicable irrespective of age. Popular operating systems are not available in Indian languages; few training tools and materials are available in Marathi. In short, IT education tends to be limited to the English-speaking and economically well-off segments of the population. IT education has yet to reach smaller towns, villages, and high poverty areas.
Eazymind is exploring opportunities to partner with corporations, NGOs, and government institutions, where its contents could be sourced and applied for promoting IT literacy.
Funding provided by the Central Government and Government of Maharashtra.
Letters sent from Manoj Motilal Gilda to The Communication Initiative on January 10 2004 and to the bytesforall_readers list server on January 4 2004 (click here to access the archives).