Former paramilitary fighters in Colombia may be able to shoot a gun far better than they can fire off an email. But that could soon change thanks to a new program – partly funded by Microsoft – that aims to train the ex-combatants on computers.
Microsoft has agreed to contribute more than $300,000 to the three-year La Llave programme initiated by OAS (the Organization of American States).
The programme aims to open eight Digital Opportunity Centers for training 30,000 demobilised paramilitaries and reintegrating them into the nation's job market. The former paramilitaries were recruited to fight in Colombia's civil war, according to Microsoft.
Because the centres will be open to the community, thousands of displaced people in Colombia are additionally expected to benefit from the programme.
The donation consists of $234,000 (about £124,000) in cash and software worth $77,000 (£41,000). The contribution will be used to develop a database to track the career ambitions of the former fighters and match their skills with the needs of potential employers.
Despite having turned in their guns as part of a 2003 peace deal, many paramilitaries have had trouble finding work because they lack education and have a violent history.