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Digital literacy drive runs on low speed

Wednesday - February 6, 2019 12:10 pm , Category : EDUCATION
The ambitious digital literacy drive of the government has barely touched 1.67 per cent of the population as the three flagship programmes being run together have been hit by roadblocks including severe fund crunch.
A slew of measures have been suggested by the parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for accelerating the national digital literacy mission (NDLM).
In its report presented in January 2019, the panel, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Anurag Thakur noted that till October 2018, the three digital literacy schemes have covered only 2 crore individuals against the target of 6.5 crore.
The panel expressed concern that targets are way off the mark in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Goa, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep.
The panel noted that the NDLM was rolled out in March 2014 with a target to train 10 lakh citizens in select districts. Another scheme - 'Digital Saksharta Abhiyan' (DISHA) - was launched in 2014 with a target of reaching out to 42.50 lakh people which was followed by 'Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan' (PMGDISHA) in February 2017 with a special focus on covering 6 crore rural households by March 2019.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) informed the panel that that the target for PMGDISHA was 3 crore in the last two years. When the scheme was announced, the time for budget had elapsed. In the second year, Rs 1,175 crore was allocated but only Rs 50 crore were released.
The Ministry took out Rs 50 crore from some other head and made it Rs 100 crore. This year, the Ministry got Rs 400 crore and another Rs 38 crore was being arranged from another programme.
The Ministry informed the panel that lack of awareness about the benefits of digital literacy and training infrastructure were some of the reasons for missing targets.
"Digital literacy has been defined as the ability of individuals and communities to understand and use digital technologies for meaningful actions within life situations. Any individual who can operate computer/laptop/tablet/smart phone and use other IT related tools is being considered as digitally literate," said the report.

--IANS gd/mr