by Carlos González Mayans, a Spanish university volunteer with UNV in Kolkata, India
It was about two months ago that I came to know about the NGO Uddami. For more than 10 years they have been providing computer education free of cost to poor youth from Kolkata.
They were teaching the use of all the main business management software, like the Microsoft Office suite. They were looking for a partnership with the private sector to give their students some kind of certification after the completion of their courses, which might help them to get jobs. Becoming a Cisco Local Academy could help, I said. read more…
You are a student in a government school who sits in a classroom of at least 80 students. You may be lucky enough to be sitting on a bench, but there are only enough benches for 40 students, although if everyone squeezes in really tightly you might be able to fit 50.
Maybe the teacher is there but chances are she’s not because on any given day, 1/3 of all teachers are absent. Even if she is there, if you are sitting in the middle to the back of the class you can’t hear anything she says.
There is a blackboard but there may be no chalk because 90% of educational resources are spent on teachers’ salaries. The last budget will raise teachers’ salaries despite the fact that teachers in government schools are never evaluated and can never be fired.
In your English class you are discouraged from speaking English because the teacher is so critical that you are punished if you make even a small mistake.
Computers are part of the West Bengal curriculum and you will learn about computers from a book but chances are you will never even see a computer because only 3.47% of schools in West Bengal have computers.
And unless you are extraordinarily bright or incredibly tenacious, you will probably drop out of school because 80% of all kids in India drop out of school before they reach Class 12.
I want to say lots of things about Uddami, but I don’t have any words. Yet I am trying to tell something. Uddami has totally changed my life.
Actually I was fond of [the] computer from very small age. When I was grown up I was looking for the centre where [you] can take training. Every centre needs only the money, but Uddami is the only centre where without spending any money I have got the opportunity to take the computer training so carefully and in [a] very friendly environment.
Before taking training in Uddami, where I [went] for a job interview, everyone asked me do you have the knowledge of computer? And my answer was no. Then I got the answer from them, that sorry we could not appoint you, because you don’t have the knowledge of computer.
But here in Uddami I have got not only the computer training but also how to communicate with others and how to speak in English. Uddami has shown me the way to earn money, and taught me how to be independent. So I am really very much thankful to Uddami.