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"Plugged In" in the DRC

By Per Loof, January 4, 2016

As technology has become an integral part of people’s daily lives around the world, these tools have changed the world we live in and how we learn to live. With an ever increasing flow of information, communication, products, capital and people between nations, a computer is one tool that has emerged and quickly adopted globally. Being computer literate is a basic skill necessary to succeed in business and thrive in today’s society. It allows one to be “connected” to the world at large. But this is a lopsided dynamic as many developing countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) do not have access to these technologies. Encouraging global computer literacy is a win-win for the world, the DRC and the Kisengo Foundation.

One such program that aims to curb the digital divide that exists in the world today and increase access to information technology for the village of Kisengo in the DRC is “Plugged- In.” Launched in the DRC in July 2014 by Parth Chug, “Plugged-In” provides free computer classes to children and residents of Kisengo. Chug founded “Plugged In” in 2010 as a student run digital literacy club providing students in developing countries an opportunity to bridge the gap in computer skills. Chug is the son of Mineral Mining Resources CEO, and in close collaboration with KEMET’s Kisengo Foundation, “Plugged In” provides sessions (up to 32 hours of computer courses over two months) to students in Kisengo. These sessions focus on the basics of Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point and the Internet. Since its inception, four additional instructors have been trained and 30 students have graduated with a basic computer proficiency certificate. The goal for this academic year is to triple the number of graduates.

Technology is the key to innovation. The benefits and impact of computer education can include an increased knowledge of school subjects, improved attitudes about learning, and the acquisition of new skills needed for a developing economy. It is hoped that training young women in the village to become computer literate with help close the gender gap. The overall goal of “Plugged In” in the DRC is to increase the opportunities for the current residents as well as the next generation, and foster their employment potential with these skills. I know we at KEMET cannot solve all the problems in the DRC, but I do believe that we have had and will continue to have a positive impact on this little village – a village that you can’t even find on a map.