Infothela: A Passage To Indian Villagers (through a PC and Wi-FI)

Technology Review has a wonderful story on some great work going on to provide new opportunities to the people of rural India.

I love this:

"In Bithoor, which is mired in tradition and poverty, Sharma's parents plan to take her out of school in about three years, so she can be trained in domestic chores and married by 18.

But a brush with computers has made Sharma [12 years-old] look beyond cooking and washing. "I want to work and make a name for myself. I want to see the world," she said, adding that she hopes to get a job in the city and then travel more widely."

Three days a week, a bicycle rickshaw turns up at her village complete with PC and Wi-Fi connection...

"The bicycle cart is the center of a project called "Infothela," or info-cart. It aims to use technology to improve education, health care and access to agricultural information in India's villages, where most of the country's 1.06 billion people live...

With only 12 computers and four Internet connections per 1,000 people, India has one of the world's lowest Internet usage rates and much of rural India remains oblivious to the sweep of technology. But the villages involved in Infothela all lie within a 50-mile wireless corridor created by the Institute of Technology and linked by high-rise Wi-Fi antennae and amplifiers along the highway."

Teach a man to fish...

"The classes teach the basics of computing, word processing, spreadsheets, Internet browsing and Web cameras. Once they learn own to use a webcam the villagers can take part in online classes, something the info-cart organizers hope to implement later."