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Kelsa+: Digital literacy for low-income office workers

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7 Author(s)
Ratan, A.L. ; Microsoft Res. India, Bangalore, India ; Satpathy, S. ; Zia, L. ; Toyama, K.
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Almost all formal organizations employ service staff for tasks such as housekeeping, security, maintenance, and transport at their office facility. Many of these workers earn wages in line with menial-labor salaries in their respective countries. They have few on-the-job opportunities to upgrade their skills or learn new ones. Kelsa+ is an initiative through which organizations in developing countries can increase digital literacy and skill development among such low-income workers, through the provision of an Internet-connected PC for the service staffs free, unrestricted use when off duty. We study a Kelsa+ pilot implementation in Bangalore, India, involving an office facility with 35 service staff. In a preliminary exploration over 18 months, we find that at a cost that is negligible for the organization, workers use of the Kelsa+ PC is high and can deliver benefits both to themselves and to the office. For workers, broad gains were seen in confidence, self-esteem, and basic digital literacy, while a few individuals experienced improvements in second-language (English) proficiency and career opportunities. These early results point in the direction of a cost-effective ICT4D initiative that could be run in the developing-country offices of the very organizations promoting development off-site.

Published in:

Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), 2009 International Conference on

Date of Conference:

17-19 April 2009