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Group nears 1m new e-surfers goal

2006-07-28 16:10

  A city project designed to introduce more people to the benefits of the Internet has offered computer training to nearly three-quarters of a million people since it began three years ago, the Shanghai Women's Federation said yesterday.

  Under the program, the federation plans to train 1 million local residents in information technology and applications free of charge. Many of the candidates are middle-aged and older people who have never touched a computer.

  More than 70 million yuan (US$8.64 million) has been invested in the project, called “A Million Families Go on the Internet.”

  The federation said 726,000 people have finished the training and passed examinations since the program started, accounting for 5.4 percent of the total population. When these people share the benefits of what they've learned with their families, the number of affected people rises to about 2 million.

  Among the trainees, 68.6 percent were women.

  A survey by the Shanghai East China University of Science and Technology showed that people above age 40 with monthly incomes from 900 yuan to 1,200 yuan have benefited the most from the project.

  According to the survey, 95 percent of the trainees reported they mastered basic computer and Internet knowledge. The Internet allowed them to enter a new world of information, participants said.

  Nearly 80 percent of the trainees said their confidence improved through their studies.

  “I didn't dare operate new electric appliances at home because I thought I was too old to learn new things. But now I find I'm still as capable as I was when I was young,” said Xu Guizhi, a 68-year-old retired teacher.

  The project also helped older people communicate better with their children and friends after learning how to send and receive e-mails.

  “After the training, I can now communicate via e-mail with my daughter, who is working in Norway. It saves time and money,” said Yin Yajuan, 60, a retired woman.

  At the same time, the project also helped boost the sale of information products, the survey showed.

  More than 60 percent of the trainees bought a computer, and 20 percent bought a digital camera after they finished the course.

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