Over 400 primary school kids introduced to technology in their own classrooms, the
youth of an entire province empowered with the ability to broaden their horizons
and take their lives beyond the limits of their villages, parents who can now provide
their children with the promise of a brighter future through the use of technology,
businesses that will now benefit from innovations that were thus far out of their
grasp and an entire community that can now access the latest technology on offer
right at their local Nanasala – these are the possibilities the village of Sevanagala
in the District of Monaragala possesses, in the wake of the third town storming
session of the Microsoft Gamata IT campaign.
Taking technology to every part of Sri Lanka has been the cornerstone of Microsoft
Sri Lanka’s five year history. The largest and the most recent of the many
diverse projects initiated in this regard is the Gamata IT concept, which covers
a broad spectrum of elements ensuring that the initiative is not simply a one day
event that is forgotten when the Microsoft team returns to Colombo, but an event
that will spark a lifetime of development and a brighter future for the entire community.
Hon. Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Chief Minister of the Uva Provincial Council and Private
Secretary to his Excellency the President and Hon. Jagath Pushpakumara, Minister
of Nation Building were the guests of honor at the third leg of the Microsoft Gamata
IT townstorming campaign held in Sevanagala recently.
The town storming campaign on the day of the event in Sevanagala saw a number of
innovative and interesting factors come into play. Aside from the MultiPoint enabled
class room at the Kiriibbanwewa Kanitu Vidyalaya, a celebration was held at the
Sevanagala Nenasala Centre for visitors along with the awarding of certificates
to over a hundred Government agents recently trained in the use of Windows Vista
and Microsoft Office. The event was the platform to introduce Sinhala Language Interface
Pack (LIP) for Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007, which allows users to operate
a computer in Sinhala. Microsoft distributed free copies of LIP software among students,
youth, and government officials in the area, enabling them to carry out their day-to-day
work using a computer in their more familiar local language.
The Singer ‘Knowledge Bus’, a popular attraction of the Gamata IT event
was also active in the area on the day of the event, running a quiz for youth as
well as children in the area, sparkling their interest to explore IT. The bus provided
the children of the village the chance to explore and experience interesting as
well as unlimited learning opportunities using a computer.
Speaking on the event Hon. Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Chief Minister of the Uva Provincial
Council and Private Secretary to His Excellency the President, thanked Microsoft
Sri Lanka for their continued efforts to take technology to the rural communities.
“The use of technology was, for a very long period of time a distant idea
to us. This initiative from Microsoft in collaboration with ICTA and Nenasala would
no doubt open new vistas to the future generation in the Uva province. Our community
has also benefited through the training of Government agents and teachers who will
pass on their training to generations of residents, again, helping our community
grow. With the entire nation on the road to development, it is important that technology
is used in every possible way to speed the development of our country. Thanks to
initiatives like the Microsoft Gamata IT campaign, rural communities too can now
contribute to the development of the economy and the country”.
Another important factor of the Gamata IT programme is the upgrading of all computers
at Sevanagala Nenasala and the donation of Genuine Microsoft software along with
the Sinhala Language Interface Packs for each machine. Sevanagala Nenasala Centre,
which acts as the epicenter of the Gamata IT activities received the Microsoft Unlimited
Potential Curriculum developed in Sinhala allowing the youth to follow IT courses
in Sinhala, a definite step towards higher employability, a multitude of opportunities
and a stepping-stone to enter the world of IT.
The funds to start and sustain a local IT Club have also been provided as part of
this initiative, to gain the interest of the youth of the area and to get them involved
in the use of technology for learning. The club was launched as part of the campaign
amid a huge level of interest among the youth of the area.
Speaking on the success of the Sevanagala leg of the Gamata IT initiative, Mr. Sriyan
de Silva Wijeyeratne, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka said that the contribution
of technology to development was a factor that could not be ignored. “The
speed of development can be doubled through the use of technology, in the last month
we have already seen a steady rise in the Sevanagala area and its surrounding villages.
Building on the vast potential that was identified through the year of English and
IT, further development of IT infrastructure in rural communities will bring about
changes that we have not yet even conceived. The power of technology to change lives
and broaden horizons has never before been more prominent. The focus of the Gamata
IT campaign is to provide the necessary technology for the development of these
communities that have thus far not had the advantage of technology. We will continue
to work toward providing technology and all the benefits it brings to communities
throughout Sri Lanka”.
One month on, the residents of Sevanagala are beginning to see a difference in the
lives and interest levels of those who participated in the campaign and benefited
from it. The IT club formed by the Sevanagala youth, initiated at the Nanesala centre
is also seeing a high degree of success with over twenty new members to date. It
is indeed rewarding to note that the IT Club is taking great strides on their own
by setting up a website using Live group and Live Spaces to connect among its members.
The enthusiasm sparked through the initial step was clearly evident at the elegant
website launch event held recently at the Sevanagala Divisional Secretariat amidst
local government officials and members. The youth of the area are now more interested
and aware of the possibilities available to them through the use of technology and
have taken a higher degree of interest in broadening their horizons. The club has
seen numbers grow in the last month and is planning various activities to further
the members’ knowledge on technology and the opportunities derived from it.
The children of the Kiriibbanwewa Kanitu Vidyalaya, where the MultiPoint enabled
classroom was set up are now eager for the computing period and look forward to
the use of the system on a daily basis. The teachers of the school have increased
the incorporation of technology to their curriculum and are enhancing their student’s
involvement in the education process - creating an unprecedented level of interest
and proactive learning motivation.