The government’s efforts to enable equity of access to ICT for all have been further boosted by the decision of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to choose Sri Lanka as one of the five beneficiary countries to receive assistance under their programme ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative'.
The ITU decided to choose Sri Lanka following its success in implementing a preliminary project to connect 25 schools in Akuressa area, which was done with the assistance of Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) in 2011.
The initiative by the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau is a pioneering programme designed to promote broadband Internet connectivity for Schools around the world. Its purpose is to ensure that schools can serve as community ICT centres for rural, marginal, urban and isolated areas.
Speaking on the initiative in Sri Lanka yesterday, ITU Secretary General Dr. Hamadoun I Toure said that the country was chosen after evaluating the success of the preliminary project and also commitment shown to carry it forward for peoples benefit.
He said that there was a long queue of countries vying to be included in the programme and added that Sri Lanka had shown exceptional qualities and dedication to be considered as one among the five beneficiaries. While commending the TRCSL in this regard he said that after the preliminary project Sri Lanka had voluntary taken steps to spread the project across to other parts of the island. He said that ITU was very satisfied with Sri Lanka's progress and hence had decided to supplement efforts.
After its successful implementation in Nicaragua the initiative is currently being implemented in Asia-Pacific and in particular in Sri Lanka. Under this project in partnership with TRCSL, a computer laboratory and broadband connectivity will be provided to identified schools in each of the 21 Districts. Building on the success of connecting 25 schools an additional 33 primary and secondary schools have been targeted, each of which will be provided with access to ICT and broadband Internet connectivity serving over 100 students per school by end 2012, according to TRCSL.
Several critical areas of focus have also been identified including providing resources to Schools that do not have access to ICT facilities in remote areas and conducting educational programmes to children with special-needs.
Secretary to the President and Telecommunication Regulatory Commission chairman, Lalith Weeratunga, meanwhile, speaking to the media on the sidelines of the ongoing ITU's12th Global Symposium for Regulators in Colombo on Tuesday said that all government schools in Sri Lanka will soon be equipped with state-of-the-art IT laboratories, "Already nearly 5,000 schools out of 9,800 have IT labs and we are planning to make this 100 per cent in the near future," he said.