Octogenarian brings computer literacy to Jharkhand villages
At his age, most people need others to take care of them. But octogenarian Rameshwar Prasad, a retired mechanical engineer, is busy helping the poor and needy in Dhanbad’s Tundi block by setting up computer training centres-cum-libraries with monetary help from Indian technocrats settled abroad.
Prasad has started three such centres in vacant buildings of Ekal Vidyalayas, single-teacher schools established by Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra, which’ve been lying unused since government schools were set up under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
Prasad started the initiative seven years ago on real ising the importance of computer literacy. “I started by providing computers to people in their homes for imparting computer education to others, but it was not so effective. Then I thought of setting up a computer centre where students would be taught free of cost,” he said.
Now he runs computer centres at three villages — Saparo, Mairanwatand and Kolhahir. The fourth centre is about to start in a week. “Each centre has at least three computers and a small library from where students can borrow books. We have constituted a committee of local residents for running all three centres and the trainers also include locals with expertise in computer operation,” said the retired engineer, adding that the trainers work for free and the students don’t have to pay any fee.
According to Prasad, technocrats settled abroad, primarily in US, have been providing financial support to meritorious students through the Foundation for Excellence set up by NRIs in the US. Prasad, who also organises scholarships for meritorious girl students in the higher secondary classes under the banner of Prakash Foundation, is associated with Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra, which works mainly in tribal areas.
Punesh Kumar Murmu, a villager managing the Saparo centre, said local students don’t have proper space to study in their houses and come to these centres. They bring their own books or use the library books.
“At Saparo, three sewing machines have also been provided for training women,” said Murmu, adding that all the training is free of cost. The computers, books and furniture are funded by donors in India and abroad.