No, this is not an advertorial for Nokia. This project, appropriately titled Connect a School, Connect a Community, is founded on the basic premise of bridging the rural-urban digital gap and providing opportunities for rural communities. The goal is to connect even the furthest schools in Sri Lanka to the ICT infrastructure of the country by setting up ICT centers in the schools vicinity.
The gravity and scope of the project maybe lost for most people from Colombo (please note the overarching generalisation) but Yeheni Shanika from Gonawala Vidyalaya in Ginigathena thinks differently:
[quote]“I don’t have a computer in my home and my friends don’t have computers in their homes either. We now have our own computer lab at our school. So now I have the chance to learn with computers.
The first thing I learnt was how to draw and colour pictures. Other than that, I learnt how to use dictionaries, the calculator and study the e‑THAKSALAWA online educational programme of the Ministry of Education. I found the Internet really wonderful and fantastic,” said fourteen-year old Yeheni.[/quote]
The ITU (International Telecommunications Union) and TRCSL (Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka) together cover the initial funding of hardware and software for the ICT centres: partners such as the Ministry of Education, Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and various institutions and ICT equipment providers pitch in to make things happen. The schools will be responsible of maintenance of computer laboratories, with telecommunication operators providing broadband Internet connectivity at reduced rates.
After its success in December 2013, the ITU and the TRCSL announced plans to extend its scope to nine provinces in all 21 districts countrywide. The project is to reach 8500 students in 33 provincial schools and is looked forward to with great enthusiasm by students and the community alike.
Source: International Telecommunications Union.