Dell YouthConnect has set its sights on a future where all youngsters have equal access to technology and the knowledge to put it to use. DIVYA THIAGARAJAN
Ever wondered if there are people who are still scared about using a computer? About youngsters having inhibitions about being talked into changing, for the better? Thought of seeing a computer lab in a slum? Or did you know of a company was not just revolutionising technology but lives too? Dell has done the unthinkable by changing the mindsets of people in Kannagi Nagar, Thoraipakkam, and has transformed their lives forever.
The whole process started off at the Hope Nursery and Primary School, where Dell had set up a computer lab for the school with 20 computers, a projector, a knowledge vehicle, and has appointed a skilled six-member faculty to help with the running of the lab. They did not want to keep the benefits to themselves and so they went about taking the projector to the schools nearby. The next step was to reach out to the youngsters, under the “Dell YouthConnect” programme. Now about 200 youngsters benefit at the lab that has a spread of many courses taught for a fee of Rs.100.
There are three courses offered: DCA - Diploma in Computer Application (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Typewriting), DTP - Desktop Publishing (PageMaker, CorelDraw and Photoshop) and Tally ER 9. “Late in 2008, Michael Dell announced the launch of Dell YouthConnect initiative, beginning from India and focused on ensuring technology access and education for the youth. It seeks to prepare a generation of young people to connect by helping them learn how and when to use technology, gain access to the right technology resources and understand how to unleash each individual’s unique potential through technology,” says Ganesh Lakshminarayanan, President and Managing Director, Dell India, and Vice President, Global Consumer, Small & Medium Business Services.
Reaching out wasn’t an easy task though. The faculty had to go out to meet these people and explain to them the benefits of taking up these classes. They were ridiculed and even insulted, but the staff did not give up. They came up with a game plan where they went into the core of the problem, mingled with youngsters in playgrounds and at The Police Boys Club (apart from the door- to-door campaigns) and slowly changed their narrow mindsets. Their initial indifference has now reached a point where the lab is never found empty. “The course out here is very useful. I can sense a lot of change in me. Before, I would shy away from everyone but now I can’t believe I’m actually talking to you. This is what the programme has done to me and many others here. If I get a good job I’m going to come back and help,” assures Ashwini Flora, 20, who has just completed Std XII.
Apart from all of this, the Dell team has gone one step forward by conducting crash courses in various subjects ranging from Personality Development, Life Skills to Retail and Sports activities. The best part is the retail class has job surety as well. After which the participants can enroll themselves into the computer class so they stand a better chance in this competitive world. “We have been sent by our college to do our field work in Kannagi Nagar and we are helping out with Dell and HOPE. The next thing we are planning to do is conduct a two-hour course for the food outlets and people interested here on catering and Sharath Babu of Food King will be conducting it,” reveal volunteers Sajith Menon and Vibin Verghese, MSW students at Mohamed Sathak College, Sholinganallur.Not only has the brain been fed but the heart as well.
Divya is a first year M.A. Communication student at MCC.
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