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.
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."
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."