Students of St. Teresa’s College are to be part of gender related planning and budgeting at the local government level as part of the e- governance drive

Buoyed by the success and acceptance of e-Jaalakam@School project aimed at promoting e-Governance literacy among students and the community, the Department of Economics, St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, has embarked on a new mission. This time they will get to involve in Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting at the local government level.

“With 50 per cent reservation for women we would like to bring in girls into planning and budget making. They will be trained to make effective budgets that will be responsive to the needs of the women and of course the society. This is a project in collaboration with UN Women, a workshop was conducted and we have been assured help by the pioneers in this field like Dr. Thomas Isaac and Prof. Mridul Eapen and Kerala Institute of Local Administration,” informs Dr. Nirmala Padmanabhan, HOD, Department of Economics, St. Teresa’s College.

Empowering citizens

The preliminary work on this project has already begun and will go full steam next academic year.

The e-Jaalakam@School project took off in 2012 with technical assistance from the Kerala State IT Mission and State e-Governance Mission Team-Kerala. The primary focus was to enhance the capacity of citizens, especially women in accessing various e-Governance initiatives.

“We focussed on literacy that would prove useful for them in everyday life, such as downloading birth and death certificates, filing cases with the Vanitha Commission, tracking files at various Government offices, payment of bills etc. The project went through four distinctive phases and culminated in the publication of e-mithram, a citizen’s handbook,” says Dr. Nirmala.

“We conducted a small study to assess the awareness levels of e-Governance among students and the public. The findings clearly indicated that despite being computer savvy awareness was very low and thus the services were not being fully utilised. There was a request from all quarters that we come out with a book with the info we had collected. That’s how we moved into the next phase.”

Regional connect

A pamphlet compiling the URLs of more than 100 useful websites, Vivara Nidhi, a citizen’s handbook on e- Governance that handholds the public in their efforts to access 23 core e-governance services and e- Mithram, a handbook for students introducing them to e-governance were published.

“We have found that most of the e-service pages launched by the government are not in Malayalam. We have communicated the demands of people for making them available in Malayalam. If there is one service that we thought we have missed in our databank it is the RTI and this will be updated soon.”

The project has inspired the creation of three other e-Jaalakam chapters in higher educational institutions in the districts of Kozhikode, Kottayam and Alappuzha. It has completed training sessions for around 20 civic groups covering more than 1,500 people..

In association with IT@School project, Government of Kerala, they are currently educating around 12, 000 students studying in Class X in 86 Government and State-aided schools in Ernakulam educational district.

The project has been included in the National e-Governance Plan portal’s knowledge repository section, and the college will have a stall at an exhibition slated to be held as part of the 17th National Conference on e-governance to be held at Le Meridien on January 30-31.

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