India’s second biggest network provider, Reliance Jio, has teamed up with Facebook to launch a digital literacy program for people coming online for the first time.
Jio, which has over 300 million subscribers in the country, will launch this program in 200 locations across 13 states. The company said the ‘Digital Udaan’ initiative will eventually reach 7,000 locations.
In sessions held every Saturday at these locations in regional languages, the program will teach new internet users about online safety, and how to use apps like Facebook. It’ll also help them get to grips with the carrier’s JioPhone, a low-cost feature phone that runs on KaiOS and includes a bunch of modern features like Google Assistant, WhatsApp, video calls, and streaming media services.
The social network has helped Jio in creating the training material including information brochures and videos.
Facebook is entering the digital literacy realm three years after its ambitious Free Basics program was hut down as it violated net neutrality guidelines, and was opposed by activists across the country. The social network’s rival, Google, also has a similar program called Internet Saathi, which has helped over 25 million women to become familiar with the online world.
While this program could benefit people who want to experience online services for themselves, it’ll also serve to put Jio and Facebook front and center for many of them, at least at the start of their journey. For both companies, that could make it worth the time and money required to run this initiative.