For now, the efforts of the 80-odd kids at Kislay, a CRY-supported project, are restricted to learning how to shut down the monitor, and moving the mouse around the screen. Before trawling the web, it has to be English first. And helping them learn more about vowels and consonants is a group of software developers who have been taking three-hour classes every Saturday and Sunday since last May. As Devender Khari, self-confessed computer geek at Cadence Design Systems, Delhi, says: "A good foundation in English is a must before we expect the children to go on to computers. We all know the level of English in government schools in our country." Finding like-minded volunteers was never a problem. Buoyed by the efforts of Friends of CRY, Devender found many in Cadence itself. There are a total of 15 volunteers now, most of them from macs (Make a Child Smile), an initiative by Cadence employees for community development.
To begin with, given the demand and aspiration levels in the slums, Devender and his friends decided to take only 80 students, ranging from Class II to XII, and some school dropouts. They were divided into three groups—children who didn’t know anything about alphabets, those who attend local schools but don’t have English as a subject, and children studying in classes IX and XII (due for the board exams, most can barely construct a sentence in English). Each group has a separate curriculum—while Group A is into memorising the alphabets, there are spelling tests and word formation tests for the 22 students in Group B.