The potential that the computer-based functional literacy (CBFL) programme holds for India can be gauged from its success in Andhra Pradesh, where it is operational in 415 centres as of now and has helped more than 8,500 people learn to read. If implemented properly, the project can make 90 per cent of India literate in three to five years, instead of the 30-odd years it is currently expected to take.

Says Professor Kesav V. Nori, who has been connected with the project since its inception: "Today our computers are stand-alone machines, but if we can set up a network or a portal it would be so much easier to monitor the project, share information and get feedback. The kind of infrastructure we can ride on is crucial to the greater success of this programme. Neither TCS nor any other Tata company can by itself solve this; it requires the government to step in, particularly the information technology and communications people."

Looking ahead
An infotech-based solution to India's illiteracy problem can also pave the way to addressing other societal issues that operate on a large scale. "There's a need to see how we can use the same sort of module in educating children," says Mr Nori. "That's one kind of offshoot. Secondly, with these machines in place, we could now make similar material available for, say, healthcare or agriculture. We could take people through the basics of fertilisers, or the entire vaccination programme. All you need to do is provide the new material, through CDs, or, if they are connected, through a network."


An infotech-based solution to India's illiteracy problem can also pave the way to addressing other societal issues that operate on a large scale — in healthcare or agriculture. "We could take people through the basics of fertilisers, or the entire vaccination programme."

 


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