Children of the slums go on-line;Public-private partnerships;Briefing;International

4th June 1999 at 01:00

It may be the world's first hole-in-the-wall computer lab. When Pradeep Ghosh of the National Institute of Information Technology, a computer literacy firm, installed a computer in the boundary wall of a dusty playground near a slum in Seelampur, New Delhi, he predicted it would be wrecked within 10 days.

But overnight the derelict area, was transformed as slum children flocked to use the computer. Mr Ghosh said: "The idea is to equip children for 2000 and after."

Most users are aged five-17 and, despite the text being in English, are remarkably confident about finding the right website.

Rajinder, seven, stands on tiptoe for hours accessing the Net. His instructors are older children from his slum camp. Their favourite sites are cartoons or, these days, the cricket.

NIIT hopes to provide more computers in other slum areas.

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