Slum children use open-source software to learn computer skills

When kids from the slum neighborhood of Bengaluru in Bangalore, South India learn to use free computer ‘open-source’ software, they also learn important lessons in freedom and gender equality.

For a city full of shopping malls, big glass offices and stylish cars, Bangalore easily represents India’s best place for the upwardly mobile. No wonder the divide between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ also play out more intensely here with an additional emphasis on digital literacy. Ironically information technology is also a great leveler; which is why when debates on file formats, office suites and bandwidths spill out of a 10×12 community room at the city’s Sudharshan Layout slum settlement, you can see hope logging in. For three days a week volunteers from the city’s IT industry guide slum kids through the maze of softwares, dashboards and domain names using donated laptops, digital cameras and an internet screen.

And there are success stories. Take V. Mani, for instance, a Class IX [high school] student who joined the centre. Overcoming his physical disability, he went on to learn graphic art using the Open Source tool GIMP and helped raise money for the centre by selling his work at the National Conference on Free Software in 2008. He got a full fee waiver from his school and is now enrolled in a diploma course in computer application.

Full Story: Women News Network

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