Published: 24th December 2021
Jharkhand octogenarian engineer facilitates free computer education to the poor, needy students
Technocrats, settled primarily in the US and other countries, have already been providing financial support to meritorious students at the computer centres
At a time when others of his age prefer leading a secluded life, octogenarian retired mechanical engineer Rameshwar Prasad is busy helping the poor and needy in the remote Tundi block of Dhanbad by setting up computer training centres cum libraries with the help of funds provided by the Indian technocrats settled abroad. According to Prasad, he has set up three such centres so far in vacant buildings of Ekal Vidyalaya, a single teacher school established by Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra, which are now lying unused after the establishments of Government Schools under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan.
Prasad said that, after working with several companies, he finally left his job at ACC cement in Sindri and started running a consultancy firm for quite some time. But, finally, in the year 2000, he got into social service under which free coaching for engineering and medical entrance examination is being provided to the poor and needy students along with scholarships to those who have already cleared the examination. "The initiative was taken around 7 years back looking at the fact that computer literacy is a very important part of education in this fast-moving world. Therefore, initially, I started providing computer sets to the people in their homes for imparting computer education to others, but it was not so effective. Then it came to mind that why not set up a computer centre where the students would come and get computer education for free," said Prasad.
After several rounds of talks, he succeeded in establishing a centre at the vacant buildings of Ekal Vidyalaya which lay unused for the last several years, he added. "Now, I am running a computer centre at three different locations — at Saparo, Mairanwatand and Kolhahir villages in Tundi region, while the fourth one is about to start within a week where poor students get free computer education and space to study as and when required. A small library has also been set up at one corner of the centre from where the students can get books allotted of their choice," said the retired mechanical engineer.
Each centre has at least three computer sets along with books, he added. Prasad further added that computer training is provided to the students by the people of the village itself who have already been trained. These centres are being managed by the local people in the village. "We have constituted a committee of local residents for the running of all the three centres and the trainers also include locals who have expertise in computer operation," said Prasad. No money is paid to the trainers and nothing is taken from the students who attain training at these centres, he said. "Technocrats, settled primarily in the US and other countries, have already been providing financial support to meritorious students through the Foundation for Excellence, a civil society of NRIs in the US having its office at Bangalore," said Prasad who himself conducts scholarship programmes for meritorious girl students of plus two under the banner of Prakash Foundation.
He is also associated with Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra which works primarily in the tribal areas. One of the villagers, Punesh Kumar Murmu, who is managing the Saparo centre, said that since there is no proper space in the houses of these students living in rural areas, they come to these centres and study in a convenient environment either with their own books or the books available at the library. "Here at Saparo, three sewing machines have also been provided where the women are getting stitching training," said Murmu. All training is being provided free of cost at these centres and the computer sets, books, furniture and other things are funded by the donors living in and outside the country, he added.