At the southern periphery of Bangalore, India, is an area known for its stately and highly acclaimed international school campuses. Coconut and palm trees bound much of the surrounding environs. This is an area of Bangalore where a person can see water buffalo trudging through rice fields, which are adjacent to the walls of gated communities that guard homes with two-car garages. It is the encroachment of affluence on the idyllic; an area where modern India meets ancient India. At the border of one of the area’s international schools, a kilometer-long gravel road leads to a small, primary school campus that I will refer to throughout this article as Komu Community School. At the school’s entrance there is a white sign, similar in size to a parking signpost. The bright red letters on the sign greet each visitor with this statement: “You are now entering an equal opportunity school.” The sign is both a purpose statement and a political statement. Indeed, Komu Community is a school that prepares India’s most common elementary-aged children—the underprivileged children living in villages—with language and technology skills for a successful future and a deep appreciation of their villages.
The purpose of this article is to report on how Komu Community implements its educational mission by bridging the local and the global with the aid of laptop technology. Throughout the article, I develop and expand a theoretical framework for investigating the intersection of globalization, education, locality, and technology. I refer to this framework as “global telephony.1” In defining global, I follow Kumar’s (2003) assertion for the need of a critical methodology for understanding the terms: global and globalization. A critical methodology for defining globalization includes recognizing how the terminology is: (a) scaffolded by local meanings and global happenings; and (b) situated in “context of power and inequality” (Kumar, 2003: 108). Thus, I define “global” as a complex (and contested) phenomenon that reflects the tension between identities of power, locality, culture, and equality. By telephony, I mean something semiotic or metaphorical rather than a literal description of telecommunications. For the purposes of this article, I use the word “telephony” to capture how technology is used as communication tool, which allows for the transmission and interpretation of ideas. Thus, I define telephony as how ideas are transmitted and reinterpreted with the aid of technological tools, specifically computer technology. In this article, I construct the theoretical concept of “global telephony” through a case study of Komu Community School. I start by describing the case study and then revisit the terminology at the end of the article.
Komu Community School’s context
Earlier, I explained that the “equal opportunity” sign at Komu Community’s front entrance delivered both a purpose statement and political statement. Komu Community’s purpose is to provide a high-quality education for local village children. The school’s administrators and teachers define this “high-quality education” as immersed in an English medium curriculum that prepares students with technology skills. Such an education also delivers a political message. Unlike the neighboring international school campuses, which serve many of Bangalore’s wealthiest families, Komu Community is a school for the children of the day laborers at the local brick kiln and the krishikaru, which is the name for those who toil in the surrounding ragi fields. Komu Community serves the population living outside the stately gates of the international schools.
Since Indian Independence in 1947, the Indian government has attempted to address the challenge of providing education for all children in India (Govinda, 2007). India’s Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) campaign, also known as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, has increased India’s elementary school numbers. As part of the UEE campaign, the Indian legislature has begun to enforce the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE). This act, passed by the Indian parliament in 2009, gives all Indian children between 6 and 14 years of age a legal right to a free elementary education. Komu Community originated as the way in which one of Bangalore’s international schools chose to comply with the 25% rule in the RTE (Ministry of Law and Justice, 2009
YMCA Mumbai has regular activities which lead to a separate Social Service Department within the Bombay YMCA. Their main focus is on youth. They have a vocational training centre where they conduct the tailoring, beautician, electrician, and computer programme.They also have the boys home facility, where orphan and semi orphan destitute children are taken care from 5 years to 18 years age, during their formative years. They also conducts an outreach program for the under privileged section, where they help children with their education.
--SVM--This school focuses on the middle income group. They have a pre-vocational education program, where students are introduced with basic skills like wiring, fitting, plumbing, welding. There is also a Junior college where students are imparted skill based technical training in Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics, Computers, Auto engineering & Banking. The Earn and Learn scheme enables them to pursue their education and contribute to the family finances. During their summer vacations, internship is organized for them with different organizations.
Samaj Samata Ani Vikas Sanstha (SSVS) was established in the year 1993 as Non-Government Organization (NGO) for Social Equality & Development. The main object is to work for all round development of people, protect their fundamental rights and give them justice. They have a family counseling center; the main objective of this project is to provide help to women in distress. SSV Sanstha is running 5 Creche Units in different slum area of Kalwa, Thane. The main objective of the creche units to give pre-primary education, provide nutrition, health checkups and enroll them in school.
They also run a Legal Aid Center with the help of efficient lawyers.The objective of the Legal Aid Center is to provide a legal help to the poor & downtrodden people from urban and rural areas. 15 Self Help Groups have been formed the slum to provide them training and guide them for self-employment. With the help of The Dalit Foundation, they run an education program for the Dalit Community to create awareness and implement the SC/ST (PoA) Act in Maharashtra. Vocational training for youth is also provided.
This foundation is working in the field of education,health & women welfare. This organisation works in Worli areas. They are running computer centre for the youth to improve their skill & enhance their learning. They are having coaching classes for the youth. They also help self Help group of women to improve their skill to get extra income to their family.
Reality Gives is the sister organization of ethically run tour company, Reality Tours & Travel Pvt Ltd. Reality Tours was created in 2005 by Chris Way (from the UK) and Krishna Pujari, with the main objective to show the positive side of the slums and break down its negative stereotypes about its people and residents, and Dharavi in particular.
After discussing the community's needs with its residents, in 2007 Reality Tours set up a Community Centre in Dharavi to provide English and computer classes, using tour revenues.
As Reality Tours grew, in 2009 the founders decided to expand on their social work. In August, the charity Reality Gives (formerly Reality Cares) was born based on the long talks they had had with the community in Dharavi, recognizing that there was a need for additional kindergarten and schooling facilities in the area. The mission of Reality Gives became to provide quality education to children from deprived backgrounds.
We continually hear time and time again that Reality Tour customers are inspired by the tours and wish to do more for the incredible people of Dharavi. Many individuals ask if they can donate additional funds to our efforts and increase the work we do.
As of 2012 we are starting a new initiative to build connections to other NGOs in the Dharavi community who can benefit from your support. While not run by us, we have strong ties to each of these projects either as beneficiaries or co-creators of the programs; we only endorse projects which have the potential to grow and we monitor to make sure that the projects achieve their goals. We also provide non-financial support, using our staff's expertise and knowledge of Dharavi.
Prabodhan Pratishthan is working in Thane on education, youth empowerment, health, community development and women empowerment. They conduct personality development programs and also health activities on cancer disease. They have also formed self help groups for women empowerment.
Parivartansheel Sanstha is a registered organization focusing on the civil, political, educational and economic rights of weaker sections and working in Kandivili & Malad suburbs of Mumbai since last 3 years.They are primarily focusing on vocational guidance for youth, sensitization of youth about civic issues, women empowerment and implementation of government initiated economic development schemes in these areas.
SHED's role is mainly catalytic in nature. They provide vocational training for the slum dweller youth in order for them to be gainfully employed was a primary area of focus. Similarly health, immunization, family planning, work on gender equity as well as vocational training with value based guidance stressing non-violence, national integration and citizenship for the young were S.H.E.D's first steps. They have established balwadis for children with a nutritious mid morning snack cum meal and health coverage as well. They have established centres in the slums of Jogeshwari, Sagbaug, Andheri, and Kalina and in 80 tribal and rural hamlets in Thane district.They provide education with gender sensitivity through balwadis and supportive study or bridge classes for the eradication of child labour. They have also create awareness on the issue of population control, AIDS awareness health and hygiene as well as values with non-violence, communal harmony, national integration and civic sense are always stressed and this awareness has become a part of the life of the participants.
Commander's Academy was established in 2009 and has focused their activities in training the teacher in different skill sets. The skill building of teachers and Youth on various faculties like Early Childhood Teachers Diploma, Montessori Teachers Training Course, Learning Disability Teachers Training Course and Art and Craft Teachers Training Course are the various areas that they are working on.
The 'Salesians of Don Bosco' an International Organization of Catholic Priests and Brothers are committed to the welfare and development of young people especially the poor and marginalized. To this end, they establish and manage various Academic Schools, Colleges, Youth Centres, Technical Vocational and Counselling Centres, Street Shelters & Engineering Colleges that offer opportunities for growth in livelihood skills and training for employment.
The Don Bosco Centre for Learning, Kurla is one such place that offers holistic training in Technical Skills. These range from Non Formal Technical Skills to Engineering Degrees. Don Bosco Centre for Learning (DBCL) in Kurla houses Don Bosco Institute of Management (DBIM), DBIT (Don Bosco Institute of Technology), DBMA (Don Bosco Maritime Academy), SJITI (St. Joseph’s Industrial Training Institute), DBHMCT (Don Bosco Hotel Management and Catering Technology) and Mass Media College (BMM).
Through the outreach social work department, DBCL conducted Skill development programmes for disadvantage youth and women from Mumbai slums areas in collaboration with BMC and NGO’s, Basic Computer course for Women Self Help Group members, conducted spoken English classes for 20 women those who completed computer training.