Triratna News

Triratna computer training projects take off in India

On Wed, 29 February, 2012 - 06:16
lokabandhu's picture
lokabandhu
Today’s long report features Shakyajata, an English woman Order Member recently returned from India, who writes with news of Aryaloka, Triratna’s computer training project in Nagpur, central India: a training project for young men and women in the latest computer skills . She says - “I have been in India a while now, and am beginning to adjust to the very different life here. The contrast with my comfortable life in Manchester, is of course quite sharp: personal comfort and convenience are much less, but satisfaction and inspiration are very great, and I have a strong feeling of being in the right place at the right time.

I’m at the Aryaloka Computer Institute, Nagpur, where two training projects are currently offered - Animation, and General Computing skills (including Hardware and Networking). Both are in that stage where much input is needed to make sure they get off to a good start - and I am very glad indeed to be doing that work, in collaboration with the Institute staff, especially its director, Aryaketu. Here’s a few impressions of my time here.

A few days ago, I had the privilege of handing out certificates to young trainees at the Institute, for the basic computing qualification MS - CIT. The young people are mainly from ‘Dalit’ families whose parents have very few resources to give education or training to their children, and the Institute receives much help from Triratna’s Karuna Trust. I was asked to give a talk, of course, which took the form of a rousing speech which would be way over the top in England, but seemed to go down well here. The great hero and role model of these families is Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, great reformer and former ‘Untouchable’. So the talk ranted (best word!) about the great difficulties he overcame in his life, and how he never gave up….because for these young people, getting the qualification is the easy part, but they face huge obstacles - of corruption and caste, among others - in getting decent employment, later. They seemed both sobered and inspired. However it was great to see that they got very good marks indeed, and that they were of all ages (including a woman with a little boy) and some clearly marked by hardship. It was a great pleasure to meet them. Overcoming those obstacles to employment, is the main objective of the work of my colleagues and myself, here in India. Young people from outlying communities - eg. Arunachal Pradesh and South India, as far apart as it is possible to get in this country - come for residential education and training here.

I was introduced to four young women from the Bihar Girls Project, one of the poorest states in India, who are learning computing here under the auspices of India’s National Network of Buddhist Youth. They looked very wary at first, but as soon as they found that I was on their side, they became sparkly and feisty and asked many poky questions…I have already been invited to dinner! They glowed with life, and determination to make something of their future, being very keen to look for work when they are qualified in computing skills. We hope to give them a whole range of those, as well as furthering their academic education. They have a reputation for being ‘slow to learn’ but I did not get that impression at all, and suspect it is prejudice against Biharis!

By contrast, I also met 4 young guys (all 17 years old), one from Nagpur, and 3 from Arunachal Pradesh, from the Chakma community. They were quite reserved compared to the girls, but very keen and determined to get on! They are staying at the Bahujan Hitay hostel, again funded by the Karuna Trust. To help these young people get good jobs is the wish of all our hearts, so their lives can be free from drudgery, free to follow whatever social development activities they are interested in; they are highly idealistic and deeply motivated. (If you want to contribute to giving this gift of independence to more young people, you can do so on our Young Indian Futures page. Also we are always looking for English teachers!)

I have been deeply impressed and delighted with what I have seen of the latest production of the Aryaloka Animation team. The teachers and students have so far produced 3 Animation booklets and a video, two with a Buddhist education theme, and two on the early life of Dr. Ambedkar. I wrote the script for the latest production, on the Sigalavada Sutta booklet because it fits cartoon treatment most vividly, being a very uplifting dramatisation of what the ideal society could be - if only the various groups of people in one’s life - parents, partner, children, friends, employees/employers, teachers, spiritual teachers etc. - behaved with MUTUAL kindness and fairness to each other..! The creative team have illustrated the Buddha’s various examples, with stunning vividness and sensitivity. I shall attach a shot or two…… I should dearly love to mass-market this material somehow, for social, educational and financial reasons, so if anyone out there has any ideas, please shakyajata [at] googlemail.com (get in touch)!

Well, I think that’s enough for now - off in search of some pictures. May you all be well and happy. JAI BHIM!! With best wishes Shakyajata”

The photographs show the certificate-giving ceremony and also some stills from Aryaloka’s recent animation work.

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