Three hundred and fifty Nenasala centres were opened throughout the country on a concept of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to bring information technology to the villages. As a further extension of this program, another 1,000 Nenasala computer centres will be opened in the country with three in each Divisional Secretariat Division at a cost of Rs 1,000 million, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga said.
He was addressing a meeting after opening a computer laboratory at Watareka Kanishta Vidyalaya in Homagama recently.
Secretary Weeratunga said when President Rajapaksa assumed duties as Prime Minister in 2004, the subjects of Highways and IT came under his wing.
"We can now see a great development of the road network in rural areas resulting from it," he said.
"Similarly, IT knowledge too had shown a marked increase. It had increased from four percent of the population to almost 45 percent today. The government's objective is to upgrade IT knowledge to 75 percent of the population," he said.
Weeratunga said there are over 1,552 schools with a student population of less than 50 each today.
"The student population at Royal College which was 1,500 had today increased to more than 8,500. Other popular schools in Colombo such as Ananda, Nalanda, D.S. Senanayake Vidyalaya, Visakha, Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya and Devi Balika Vidyalaya had over 6,000 students each. But the student population in these schools should to be systematically reduced. Therefore, the government planned to develop schools with less than 50 students to a high standard to attract more students to them to reduce pressure in popular schools," he added.
"Today students leave schools armed with an IT knowledge. When studying IT, students had to link with the internet which had both salutary and bad features. What we should do is to imbibe the good features found in the internet and discard the harmful things," the Secretary said.
He said another objective of the government is to create a trilingual society by 2021.
Secretary Weeratunga said the government had never curtailed free education but tried to strengthen it further. "Kudos should go to every government since independence for perpetuating free education without harming it."
Education Minister Bandula Gunawardane said they should all thank and be grateful to the President for extending IT knowledge to the villages under the Mahinda Chinthanaya policy.
"Steps are now being taken to uplift the rural school network under various programs such as Lama Mithuru and Mahindodaya," he said.
International Telecommunication Union's (Asian) Regional Director Dr. Eune Ju Kim, Deputy Director Shamil Alma, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Director General Anusha Pelpita, Education Ministry Secretary Anura Dissanayake and other officials were present.