Urban migration in developing countries is expected to increase the number of slum inhabitants from 940 million in 2003 to over two billion by 2030. As socio-economic status at birth is a strong predictor of future socio-economic status, slum children seem destined to a life of poverty. However, emerging examples of empowerment appear to demonstrate possibilities of information technology to benefit the lives of slum children. In this paper, we use social cognitive theory to study why children participate in IT learning in the absence of formal training courses, using the constructs of symbolizing, forethought, visceral, self-regulating and self-reflecting human capabilities. In doing this, we attempt to validate a theoretical basis for human capabilities of slum children to overcome the forces of environmental determinism working against them.