Ekal received the Digital Trailblazer Award for its innovative program aimed to bring digital literacy to rural areas. The award was presented at the Digital Conclave organized by Hewlett Packard in association with India Today group. Shri Raghubar Das, the chief minister of Jharkhand state presented the award to Shri Lalan Kumar Sharma, Program Director, Ekal Gramottan . The event was held at the Radisson Blue Hotel in Ranchi, Jharkhand on October 21, 2016.
Several luminaries including Mr. C.P Singh, the Minister for Urban Development, Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Mr. Sunil Barnwal, Secretary, Information Technology, Jharkhand state, Ms. Aradhna Patnaik, Secretary Education and Human Resource Development, Mr. Prashant Kumar, Chief Executive officer, Ranchi Municipal Corporation, Mr. Praveen Chandra, Director, Health and Mr. Vivek Modwal, Country Manager Hewlett Packard attended the event.
Ekal Gramottan foundation is an important arm of the Ekal movement that works on the economic development of Ekal villages.
Ekal is a 26-year old non-profit organization that has the largest footprint in rural remote areas in India. The organization runs single teacher schools in over 54,000 rural remote villages. In keeping with the technological progress, Ekal initiated computer literacy program as part of its offering. It hopes to use the program to reduce the digital divide between rural and urban India. Ekal has imparted digital literacy training to more than 5000 students. Ekal’s Mobile Computer Lab, called Ekal on Wheels is a special program where a van fitted with computers goes to a village and invites villagers to use the computers in the lab. The training is imparted using spoken tutorials, an online open source training program developed by IIT Bombay. Ekal Gramottan foundation has partnered with the Spoken Tutorials group at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay to provide training and certification so that students can use the certification to get jobs. Graduates are able to get jobs in local Panchayats and post office. They are also opening Cyber Cafes.
The award by Hewlett Packard and India Today is a great testament to the innovative nature of the program and the impact it is creating in rural India.