FACILITATING LEARNING THROUGH TECHNOLOGY & DIGITALISATION
Established in 2002, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) has been proactively working in rural and urban spaces to empower communities with ICT tools and digital interventions. The organization envisions the creation of information empowered, equitable communities by providing digital access to information, knowledge and online services. Providing wireless connectivity in remote areas, creating digital classrooms in villages, training and building capacity of youth has been some of the key areas of work.
DEF’s main focus is to relate technology to the masses especially on how technology can empower women, youth, differently abled and elderly in digital agricultural literacy, media literacy, digital upskilling, digital women literacy, literacy to access one’s biometrics etc. The notion is based on how does digital literacy in different fields become a bare necessity for humankind. Over the last 18 years, the organization has been actively engaged in digitally empowering local communities through its 850 Community Information Resource Centres located across 24 states and 130 districts in rural, tribal, marginalized, and unreached areas. Under its Education wing, DEF has directly and indirectly made 5.1 million artisans, youth, differently abled people, women, and elderly digitally literate, developed offline and online curriculum on functional literacy, media literacy, financial literacy with emphasis on application-based tools on local governance, agriculture, livelihood, and information etc.
Digital Daan- Device For All, Education For All
In 2020, COVID-19 paralysed movement, reduced economic activity, and most importantly disrupted the education sector- which is a critical determinant of a country’s economic future. In India, 320 million students have been affected by school closures, and though the government quickly recommended shifting to “online teaching,” this ignored millions of Indians who do not have access to technology and connectivity.
Thus, to address the digital divide and promote inclusion, DEF initiated a program called ‘Digital Daan’ to make second-hand devices available to the rural households, in order to enable e-learning and self-learning among the young learners. The project aims to crowdsource the devices from urban and metro cities and redirect it to rural communities to bridge the digital divide.
Digital Daan is rooted in the philosophy of giving and believes in redistribution from those who have more to those who have less—from the privileged to the underprivileged, from the haves to the have nots. The project targets rural households with one or more school-going children across 130 districts in 24 states in India.
Smartphone, laptops, tablets, desktops, printers, projectors and cameras are donated at our ‘Device Collection centers’ located across the country. Till date, the Foundation has collated 5,000 such devices which is distributed to 200-300 education public access points at the rural and urban poor areas, where children can come and interact with their facilitators online at the pre-scheduled time. The aim is to replicate this model across 1000 locations and 10,000 villages to have community learning. It also envisions community-wide access, inclusion and widespread education especially for the girls as they are the worst affected by the shift to online schooling.