Some faculty members are required to perform service to the community. Providing free education that improve societal value is one of the many ways to deliver the service. However, we recently are faced with a difficult situation in this channel, and I hope faculty here who had experience in teaching outside the school or social science researchers working in underprivileged groups will be able to point us to the right direction.
We are a small group of software developers and teachers who give free computer lessons to pretty much anyone who is interested. So far we have taught 32 students and they are all working as programmers in various places. However the dropout rate has been 8 to 1 so far. But lately the big problem is finding new students.
We don't charge money, there are no contracts to sign and we even provide required software and books free of charge. Sometimes we even supply the computers. The classes are online last about a hour a day. Still, even with sharing success stories and having former students themselves talk to new students, we are finding it hard to find new students who would be interested in taking the classes. I personally know people who would rather complain about the unfairness of life than take a job working as a paid intern somewhere.
My question is: What can we do to make free learning more appealing to people who are not in a school environment?