Geneva, 5 December 2013 – ITU has selected Sri Lanka as one of five countries for the ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’ project. Following the completion of a ‘Connect a school, Connect a Community’ project in Akuressa, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) initiated this project with ITU to extend the scope to cover 33 schools on the entire island.
This project was inaugurated today with the opening of the Computer Laboratory of the Watareka Kanishta Vidyalaya (Primary School), in Homagama, Padukka, Colombo District, by the Sri Lanka Minister of Education Mr Bandula Gunawardena. The ceremony was attended by Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka and Chairman of the TRCSL, and Ms Eun-Ju Kim, Director of the ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, along with participating school principals and officials of the Provincial Education Offices.
The project will benefit over 8500 students in 33 schools located in areas of low ICT development, while also educating children with special needs.
The main objective of the project is to narrow the digital divide between rural and urban areas and provide digital opportunities to their communities. Transforming these schools into community ICT centres is expected to help marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as women, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and those living in rural, remote and underserved areas, and to empower them to contribute to their socio-economic development.
ITU and TRCSL have provided funds for the hardware and software required to equip the computer laboratories in schools. The schools will be responsible for the maintenance and operation of the facilities, while telecommunication operators will provide broadband Internet connectivity to at concessionary rates.
“This school and rural community-oriented ICT project will be beneficial to the rural sector,” said Mr Weeratunga. “In the future, these schools will play a key role in the penetration of ICT knowledge into the rural and remote areas of the country.”
“The Ministry of Education is committed to equipping teachers and students in Sri Lanka with digital literacy skills in order to empower them to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the global economy,” said Mr Anura Dissanayake, Secretary in the Ministry of Education. “The project will bring technology into the classroom and allow teachers to teach their students critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration skills.”
“This is a smart initiative which sets a milestone in driving ICT access to rural and remote areas and benefits not only teachers and students but also the communities where they live,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “Such an innovative public-private-peoples’ partnership, which promotes school-based community ICT centres, represents an attractive, affordable, inclusive, scalable and sustainable step forward in providing digital opportunities for the people of Sri Lanka. This is certainly an excellent way forward to realize the Asia-Pacific Vision 2020: Smartly DIGITAL, which was endorsed last month by leaders at the Connect Asia-Pacific Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand.” Dr Touré was represented at the event by Ms Eun-Ju Kim, Director of ITU’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
The ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’ project in Sri Lanka is a public-private-peoples’ partnership (4P) involving ITU, TRCSL, the Sri Lanka Ministry of Education, UNHCR, ICTA, SLT, Mobitel, Dialog Axiata, Metropolitan Computers, Daisy Lanka Foundation, Jinasena Training and Rehabilitation for ICT Education promotion of the Island.
SOURCE: ITU Press Office