Benetech Expands Their Digital Literacy Programs in India: Meet the Bethany Society

By Shareef Phillips, posted on

As part of our global digital literary program, Benetech has highlighted many inspiring impact stories. We had the opportunity to interview Mr. Carmo Noronha, the Executive Director of the Bethany Society in Shillong, Meghalaya, a state in northeastern India. As the torch bearer for our programs across the North East of India, this organization has served as the driving force behind our efforts. Check out Mr. Noronha’s insights into Benetech’s digital literacy programs in India.

Bethany Society Meets Benetech’s Digital Literacy Program

Approximately two years ago, Dr. Homiyar Mobedji, Benetech’s Disability Expert, Program Manager of Asia & Africa, introduced the Bethany Society to Benetech. Dr. Mobedji and the Benetech team introduced the initial digital literacy program idea to the Bethany Society, and it kicked off into what has evolved into what is now a rigorous digital literacy curriculum. Before Benetech’s involvement, students of Northeast India were given mobile devices and computers, but they did not know how to access the appropriate information to enhance their educational experience.

The Impact

Benetech’s Digital Literacy Program has had a profound impact on Northeast India’s communities. The learners are currently testing their knowledge of computers and keyboard skills everyday. “The sight of learners emerging from the computer centers and entering the classroom and/or academic spaces fully prepared to participate in class lectures is something magical”, says, Mr. Noronha. The whole system has become a tool that facilitates learning across the curriculum. From a curriculum that was comfortable with using primarily Braille, this introduction to technology and Benetech’s comprehensive digital literacy program has provided learners with a more efficient system of reading, writing, and sound, allowing those children with disabilities a more multi-sensory experience. Originally, these programs were designed for students aged 9-12, but today students as young as four are able to take advantage of the proper learning tools. In one of the community schools, Mr. Noronha recalls watching a young child’s face light up in amazement as the tablet device provided sound to help the visually-impaired student hear what was being presented on-screen.

The Future for the Bethany Society

As a result of the promotion and connection of Benetech’s Digital Literary program, other local organizations are visiting Bethany Society to witness the miracle of digital impact. Thanks to this collaboration, there are more blind young people who know Benetech, know Bookshare, and are interested in digital literacy. It is with great hopes that this will spread to other local programs in India. Bethany Society believes that other states should have non-profit organizations and that we can partner with them in collaboration with Benetech and other organizations to spread the mission that no one should be left behind. Bethany Society’s tagline, “We Only Segregate Garbage,” is often used as a fundraising strategy to increase outreach and their impact.

“I am encouraging all supporters, donors, and sponsors to support Benetech more because organizations like Bethany Society benefit from that funding, which allows them to provide educational opportunities to children living in remote villages who do not have access to technology or digital literacy. Many of the children affected are first-generation learners. As a charitable organization, Bethany Society encourages all communities around the world to spread the mission of inclusion and quality education for the 21st century, which is unimaginable without their support.”

Mr. Carmo Noronha

If you would like to learn more about Benetech‘s Digital Literacy Programs, as well as our other partner organizations, such as the Bethany Society, please contact Dr. Homiyar Mobedji. ([email protected]).