Edimpact Project Surya Kiran – Bridging the Digital Divide Through Solar Energy-based Digital Literacy Van

It is a fallacy that India is becoming digitally literate at all levels. In actuality, it can be seen that the digital divide in India is increasing due to lack of proper training in digital literacy to rural youth which in turn results in improper and unproductive use of the Internet. In simple terms, one can say that it, the Internet, is not being utilised positively in the developmental process of rural India.

Lack of trained professionals, unavailability of electricity coupled with tough terrain of interior villages has always been a major factor in inhibiting digital literacy drive in rural India.

Digital literacy is now taking a whole new meaning in rural India. Edimpact, a company based in Jharkhand and now expanding to many other states in India, is playing a pivotal role in imparting computer skills to the unprivileged rural children through its Project ‘Surya Kiran’. Edimpact has developed a mobile computer lab which is powered by solar energy and does not require conventional electric supply. Maruti EECO vans have been redesigned with a 1KVA inverter and battery powered by solar panels on the roof. The interior of the vehicle has been redesigned to power 5 laptops and one demo computer and is equipped with Wi-Fi Internet. 6 to 7 students can sit comfortably and learn basic computer skills. The system has a backup of around 7 hours (when solar energy is not available), which otherwise runs directly on solar energy. This mobile facility is thus a great boon to the schools where students do not have a full-fledged computer lab in their schools or a trained teacher.

Students working in Project Surya Kiran Digital Literacy Van (PRNewsfoto/Edimpact)
Students working in Project Surya Kiran Digital Literacy Van (Photo courtesy: PRNewsfoto/Edimpact)

According to the Director of Edimpact, Mr. Sanwill Srivastava, the vehicle will have a driver and a trained professional who will go to remote villages and provide training on Computer Basics, Internet, E-mail, Cyber Security, Productivity Programs and Cashless Transactions. According to Mr. Sanwill, the company also has plans to provide basic governmental services to rural citizens like UID registration, PAN registration, certificates applications, printing of results, etc. What is significant is that the mobile centre operates within the village and that the people don’t have a problem of commuting to towns to access this knowledge.

The flexibility in design and functionality enables the Project Surya Kiran vehicle to be used as a mobile health centre, cybercaf√©, an IT classroom and even as a centre to organise community training in. These vehicles, the first of their kind, are also used to impart google apps training to teachers in schools where such facilities don’t exist. This aspect is also to be given greater focus in the coming year. Equipping the teacher with advanced computer knowledge and the students with basic and practical computer skills is vision of the future.


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