September 12, 2018

In Chhattisgarh, smartphones bring learning for women who have never been to school

Savitri Choudhury and her husband Pitambar Choudhury both work as farm labourers. They live near Ambikapur in Surguja district of Chhattisgarh. When there is no job near Ambikapur, they have to go to far flung areas in search of work. Despite financial hardships they are raising their three children with a hope for better future. They want their children to study and progress in their lives. They dream of a day when their children will have better lifestyles and more opportunities.

Life has been hard for Savitri and her husband but the hardworking couple somehow meets the expenses. They are aware of the importance of education and learning in general. “We are illiterate people but we know that learning improves quality of life. We want to learn new things and we want our children to learn as well.” Savitri says.

Recently Savitri got a new learning tool. It was a smart phone. The smart phone has opened the doors to a new world for her. Though she and her husband cannot read, they are learning many new things from the audio-visual materials available on the internet. “We are learning many new things. It is helping us in making our lives better. But our learning is limited as we are illiterate people but our children are learning fast. It is a blessing for them. They can not only learn more about their subjects but they can stay updated about income opportunities and jobs as well.”Says Savitri. Like many other women, Savitri feels that the smart phone is a positive development in her life.  

Savitri was among the beneficiaries of the Sanchar Kranti Yojana or SKY, the initiative by the Chhattisgarh government to improve mobile connectivity and to increase the number of smartphone users in the state. With SKY, the government is aiming to reach out to 50 lakh people including 45 lakh women. The beneficiaries of this scheme are from underprivileged backgrounds.

Savitri is very clear about the benefits of the scheme. “This scheme makes sense because the smart phone is not just a luxury item. It is a tool to gain information. We are illiterate people and we understand the value of information. The more you learn the better off you are.The logic behind the government’s decision to distribute these phones can be understood.” Savitri and her husband are learning to use the smart phone from their children. “They are guiding us on the usage of the smart phone. We are slow learners as we are not educated but we are learning.” Savitri says. They are also learning about various government schemes and opportunities that can be beneficial to them.

“We would not have been able to buy this phone on our own.” Says Savitri. The money they earn is barely enough to run the household and support the study of their children. Savitri is an example of many other women beneficiaries of SKY who come from similar backgrounds. Despite being illiterate and financially weak, these women are now seeing the smart phone as a means of embracing a new world of opportunities.

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