Internet Inclusion

Internet Inclusion

In a poignant radio interview, a young man in his 20s opens up about the bullying he faced in school and college because he is gay. He talks to QRadio channel manager and RJ Vaishalli Chandra on her show HqO about the psychology of bullying, how he overcame the trauma, and came to terms with his sexuality. Then he makes a revelation to listeners – his own teacher encouraged the bullying and harassment and that is what prompted him to become an educator so that he can help students become more sensitive and supportive of inclusive behaviour. The programme, Vaishalli tells us later, celebrates gender fluidity and features audio documentaries, coming out stories and listeners calling in to talk about specific topics.

The Pune Municipal Corporation’s showpiece e-learning academy brings a revolution in education to children from neighbouring slums

Parth Kakade, a Class V student of Rajiv Gandhi Academy of E-Learning at Sahakarnagar, Pune, persuaded his parents to buy him a computer earlier this year. His father Prakash bought a second hand machine worth Rs 5,000 and attached it to the LCD TV they already had.

The young girl is all concentration, leaning close to the computer monitor, her ears to the speakers. She isn’t reading what’s on the screen but listening to the text being read out by the computer, controlling it using the tab, enter, back and navigation keys on the keyboard.

As she scrolls down to the next page, the computer stops reading -- the text is corrupt. Undeterred, she walks slowly to another student, seeking his help to fix the problem. We are at the University of Pune’s Advanced Technology Blind Students Learning Centre, where students use computers to further their education and improve their social networking skills.

Cybermohalla, a project conceived and run by Sarai (Centre for Study of Developing Societies) and Ankur (Society for Alternatives in Education), invited youth from Delhi’s low-income settlements to reflect on their daily life-contexts, using basic computers. The project set in motion a unique empowerment process, as it explored the democratising possibilities of cyber-technology. The young people engaged seriously and generated multiple narratives, recording a wide range of events, ideas, perceptions and emotions-- knowledge products that circulated via local cable networks, blogs, email-lists, social media, wall magazines, journals, art installations, diaries, booklets, books and the world-wide web. Spanning a decade from 2001 onwards, Cyber-mohalla enabled hitherto marginalised ‘digital outcastes’ to become sophisticated media practitioners, reaching out from their humble mohallas (neighbourhoods) to global audiences.

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