Mysore school kids on Internet safari

Mysore University’s School of Information Management has come up with an  Internet safari  project   for initiating primary school children into Internet usage.  Focus is on govt. and  municipal schools . Project   spokesman Athif Mohammed says once in three months  they run  a two-day course at which selected local school children are invited to the college campus for hands-on training on aspects of the Internet connectivity – accessing the web, browsing sites,  search engines,  online groups,  community blogs and e-governance.

Nearly 250 school students have gone through  the weekend course till date.  To what effect, is not clear . I forgot to ask the project spokesman if they have a feedback channel in place to assess the impact of their project.   The Internet holds out endless possibilities,  of which even many parents are not aware. Their lack of awareness, worse still, their misperception of  Internet as  a corruptive  influence ,  inhibits them from getting their children a computer .  Many middle-class parents are dismissive of the Internet because of the mistaken belief that it is mostly  about video games and porn photos.  They wouldn’t want their children exposed to the Internet.

This is in sharp contrast from  the US and western Europe where children  are introduced to computers as interactive toys.  They come in attractive colours and have cartoon-based learning features. Computers with Internet connection are  made available in children’s  section of public libraries.  By the time they are ready for schooling children are familiar with computer usage.  At middle school level students are encouraged to  browse the Net to collect material for their school projects.  At higher classes students interact  with peers and teachers online  through class-room sites.

Back  home in India most govt.  schools and even many middle-class  households have no computer,  let alone broadband connectivity.  Internet penetration is low and the digital divide is wide.  Besides, there is a sizeable segment of uninformed adult population with a prejudiced mind about computer.  Internet awareness programme for school students cannot succeed without addressing parental prejudices. The Mysore University school of info. management would do well to give an orientation course for parents,  along with the Internet Safari for their school-going children.  Teachers need to be motivated enough to encourage their students to take advantage of the two-day programme.  Maybe  the university  school,  instead of expecting children to come to their premises for training,  should consider taking their Internet Safari to various schools.  College students could be drafted as volunteers for taking up the schools programme.

Public-spirited staff   in corporate sector could be involved as volunteers  in implementing  Internet awareness project in city  schools. I have in mind the likes of Ashwin Upadhyaya who visited a local school on weekends to interact with students.  Ashwin’s school intervention programme covers a wide spectrum of subjects that could be learned through the Net.  Ashwin says it has been a learning experience for him to interact with  school students every weekend.

Mr Athif  Mohammed can be contacted at 9886772356

Also read –  ‘Neteracy’ for seniors, in 5 days

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