Initiative Improves Prospects For Impoverished Individuals Initiative Improves Prospects For Impoverished Individuals

Some of the poorest individuals in Rajasthan, India have gained access to computer and workplace training through an innovative Cisco Networking Academy project.

Giving Back to the Community with IT Training

While millions of people around the world enjoy the benefits of modern technologies, it is easy to forget that billions lack access to computers, connectivity, and basic necessities. Nitesh Mathur, Cisco Networking Academy project manager in Western India, explains that "12 percent of the 1.2 billion-strong population in India is in a trap of tremendous suffering, due to a lack of food and proper health and educational facilities."

In an effort to give back to society and help address these economic divisions, Mathur has launched a project in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The goal of the initiative is to provide 90 days of free computer and career training for six classes of 30 students each year.

Rajasthan's Center for Electronic Governance, a Cisco Academy, is funding the initiative, and Cisco is providing the curriculum and equipment for students to complete the Cisco IT Essentials training in Hindi, and classes on how to flourish in a IT-based work environment.

Promoting Financial Independence

The goal of this initiative is to allow marginalized individuals between the ages of 14 and 45, who are currently living on less than US$450 annually, to gain financial independence by working in an industry that was previously beyond their reach. The first group of students began their training in May 2010. After completing the program, they were prepared to earn the CompTIA A+ Essentials certification and enter the workforce of the new knowledge economy.

One of the students is Buddhi Prakash Tomar, whose father earns around $37 a month. A few days after starting the free course, he was hired as an IT assistant for Airtel, India's leading service provider. Tomar earned a salary of $50 a month while pursing his training. "Computer education was a luxury I could not afford," he says. "I found a decent job with the help of this course, and I encourage my friends and other students to enroll in this program."

Future Plans

With some students already working, and many more on their way to joining the IT workforce, Mathur hopes to roll the program out to the rest of India.

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