Microsoft has been collaborating with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) India since 2005 to set up Community Based Technology Learning Centres (CTLCs) across the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, providing underprivileged people with better access to Information Technology (IT) training.
The collaboration is part of Microsoft's Community Technology Skills Programme, which was launched in India in August 2004 as Project Jyoti. As part of the initiative, Microsoft India partners with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to support various programmes aimed at empowering under-served individuals through the use of IT. The establishment of more than 1,400 CTLCs, in partnership with 14 NGOs in 27 Indian states, is one of the cornerstones of Project Jyoti’s success.
More than 450,000 people have been trained at the CTLCs — out of which, more than 300,000 people have been placed in jobs or were helped to start their own enterprise through the initiative. At the CTLCs, rural residents are equipped with IT and non-IT related skills to secure employment in urban areas, thus helping to narrow both the digital divide and the technology skills gap between urban and rural residents.
The growing number of people who have benefited from the services of the CTLCs established by Microsoft and AKRSP India illustrate the positive impact on marginalised communities across the three Indian states.
“Computer training from the CTLC has helped me make a decent earning,” said Yatin Kumar, an employee with the Union Bank of India in Bihar. “I was toiling as a labourer until I enrolled in computer courses with the CTLC. Today, my life has changed and improved significantly, and I am helping to spread the word about the benefits of computers.”
Sangeetaben Ramanbhai Vasava is another rural resident whose life has been enriched after joining a computer course at the CTLC. A widow in need of financial support to raise her two children, Ms Sangeetaben was recruited as a part-time IT trainer at a CTLC in Gujarat state and later secured a stable job at the International Rural Education & Cultural Association (INRECA).
"The CTLC has given a new life to me and my children, helping me to find a means of livelihood when I needed it most," Ms Sangeetaben said. "I hope the Centre will continue to help people like me for years to come."