- 23 Aug 2022
Coming from a ‘basti’ and not having a very strong financial background, I never thought I would be able to access or learn anything about computers and the digital world, despite being very interested. My family always wanted me to be independent and worked really hard to afford my education. It was due to their efforts that I completed my Junior College in the Science stream from Pune and further went on to complete my General Nursing and Midwifery course. I started working as a nurse at a hospital after my GNM course but took a break after I had a child.
I always had a liking for learning computers because that was the need of the hour and to get a better paying job, I needed that skill. I started looking for computer courses, but courses like MS-CIT weren't very affordable for me, so I was still hopeful and was trying to look for more options.
The best thing that happened to me was that my husband used to work at the Idea Foundation, the foundation which provides the E-Sakshar programme along with the Giving for Good foundation. One of his jobs there was to carry out door-to-door campaigning for the course and that was when he told me about the free digital literacy course called E-Sakshar.
Through E-Sakshar, I could learn all the basics about computers and also about how to use the internet safely, make digital payments, bookings and so much more. It was the opportunity I was looking for, so without any further thought, I enrolled immediately. The course started in early 2020, and I was lucky enough to train through offline classes.
I remember my first day in class - my husband introduced me to everyone there and I instantly felt very comfortable due to the welcoming environment. All the students were welcomed by our very polite trainers, who were very warm and enthusiastic, which took off the little nervousness that any of us had. We had the best first day ever!
Since most of us were amateurs at computers, we started off with the very basics, like how to create a Google account, what websites are and how to access one safely. We were then introduced to MS Paint and we had a fun activity where we learnt how to digitally paint, which was a very new and fascinating concept for me.
One of the most appreciable things about the course was that the trainers were very invested in not just teaching us but making sure that we understood everything clearly. They were focused on results-based learning. We wouldn't get ahead unless we had a topic completely clear and the best part was that everyone was encouraged to move at their own pace without any pressure. With just 20 students per class, every student was given proper attention and was provided with the required personalized guidance.
We were also introduced to Gmail, Word and Excel, where we learnt how to create records, the shortcuts and also how to save files to our Google account. I even learnt to keep all my important documents on my Google account so they don't get lost as they always do.
While I was in college, I was assigned to complete a 1-month training period at a mental hospital and had to create a PowerPoint presentation on schizophrenia, a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. I had no clue how I was supposed to make a PPT from scratch. I had a few friends who tried to help me out, but no one can teach you better than a teacher, right? So, I went to my trainers and sought their help and I wasn't disappointed.
The trainers not only taught me how to make a PowerPoint step-by-step, but they also sat down with me and guided me throughout the process. Initially, it felt impossible to create a PPT on my own and I had tried to replicate what my friends were doing, but after I learnt how to make a ppt myself, I could give it my own touch and edit it however I pleased and that wasn't even the best part. The best part was that I topped my class with my presentation, scoring a whopping 90/100! That was a very proud and unbelievable moment for me, all thanks to my ever supportive trainers.
You’d think that since it is a digital literacy course, we would follow the conventional way of learning with more theory and less practice, but this course was a whole package of theory, practice, one-on-one guidance, group discussions, assignments and so much more. We'd play games together to make the entire process more engaging and I remember having long discussions with my peers where we all learnt so much more than just individual learning.
I can't help but appreciate the efforts put into designing and executing this course because it is learning-oriented. Even the assignments that we received as homework were taken very seriously and no doubtS were left unsolved. I found a family there that was very supportive, loving and with whom I experienced a lot of growth.
After I completed the course, I got a data entry job at a hospital, which I wouldn't have gotten if I didn't have knowledge of Word and Excel. So, my nursing and computer knowledge both played a role in that. Here, I was keeping records of patients, operation schedules and also medicines. All the skills I learnt proved highly useful for me and I continually discover new ways to use them every day.
In the three months that I spent finishing the course, I learnt so much about computers, people and myself. At some point, I also helped other students wherever they got stuck, so I also discovered a teacher in me. My family is so proud of me for not giving up learning and completing this course and opening more avenues for myself and my family.
I am highly grateful to the donors of the E-Sakshar, who, with open hearts, care to donate so people like me can get an opportunity to learn without worrying about our financial situations.
Exclusively written for Giving for Good Foundation by Bhairavi Hiremath
With words as her medium and a diary full of scribbled ideas, she is usually found looking for ways to use her writing to impact for Good. If she’s out of sight, she’s probably either reading, petting cats, jamming to retro Bollywood, or of course, writing!