E-libraries Tackle Computer Phobia
Via BBC News
Kamal Prasad Sharma, aged 12, a student at Saraswati Secondary School in a small village not far from Kathmandu, was afraid when he saw a computer for the first time.
He didn’t dare enter the room, thinking the computer would harm him.
“I was really scared when I saw the computer,” he says.
“I didn’t go near it. I was worried it might explode and kill me.
“It was only when the teacher called me saying it was harmless that I went into the room, but I still hesitated.”
Things have changed now, he adds.
“I’m feeling much better. The E-library has helped with my studies. “We can see the periodic table of science, and also maps and other geography things in a pictorial way that is easy to understand. It’s not only that – we can also play games and have fun.”
E-libraries use audio, video and text technology. Their digital “books” cover various topics of the school syllabus, ranging from social science to literature and from mathematics to science.
The E-library concept was initiated by Help Nepal Network (HeNN), a non-governmental organisation. Its goals are to provide literacy and awareness about the use of computer and information technology, and to set up one E-library in each of Nepal’s 75 districts, which range from the high Himalayas to the hot plains.
Working with other organisations, including Save the Children-Norway, HeNN is setting up the libraries with the use of what is called the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP). This is a free and open-source (accessible to everyone) package which connects one powerful central server in the school, using the Linux operating system, to a number of diskless low-end computers. When linked to the server, each computer receives a full Linux desktop.
LTSP is seen as a cost-effective, power-saving and durable technology, not only in schools but also in other sectors. What’s more, it is also virtually free of tampering and computer viruses – and the Linux software developed by Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, a charitable educational library based in Kathmandu, is being provided free of cost.