Empowering a Knowledge Society through Distance and e-learning Network
Information and Communication Technology Agency in keeping with the thinking of "Mahinda Chinthana"of promoting ICT's in the rural areas of Sri-Lanka has enabled distance learning & e-learning though it's Nenasala network in launching the first of four Nenasala: Distance and e-Learning centres that have been established across the county.
His Excellency, President Mahinda Rajapaksa who has reiterated the importance of education and capacity building in his vision for a knowledge society in Sri-Lanka, will launch it from the Temple Trees with a video conference between the four centres located in Hambantota, Kandy, Oluvi, Jaffna and the Distance Learning Centre (DLC) in Colombo as the hub. Powered by Broadband connectivity of 512kbps via VSAT technology, each centre consists of a large video conferencing room with relevant equipment to enable distance education, Computer lab consisting of 12-15 computers to promote e-learning as well as a playback room with TV, VCR or DVD.
The recognition of the potential of ICT-based learning (or e-learning) and information sharing is not new to Sri Lanka What is new, however, in Sri Lanka is the increasing awareness by providers and users alike that such e-learning and information sharing approaches will require some strategic harmonization and policy support to enhance impact of individual initiatives.
A key aspect of strategic harmonization of e-learning in Sri Lanka is therefore to promote collaboration between institutions, companies and NGOs, in order to achieve economies of scale in e-learning, sharing resources and distributing risks and capital investment costs as the amount of capital investment and the scope of the content resource base required exceed the capacity of any one institution, especially in a small country such as Sri Lanka.
Through His Excellency's '1000 Nenasala" Programme, distance and e-learning will allow citizens to access educational and training courses which previously would not have been available to them without having to travel to major cities or towns. It will enable urban areas outside capital city to access global and national sources of knowledge and learning. With it's high bandwidth being available, it would enable students to access virtual classrooms manned by expert teachers.
The overall objective of the Project is to provide new information sharing and learning opportunities to a large spectrum of users in the country, through the establishment of an interactive, multi-channel network linking to existing domestic e-learning networks and global networks for distance and e-learning.
The four centres will aim at raising the skill levels of a broad spectrum of the population in key urban areas outside the Colombo area by providing (i) broader access to learning and information sharing; (ii) enhanced quality of learning programs and relevance to job markets; (iii) lower cost of accessing relevant learning; (iv) life-long learning opportunities that allow for continuing job-related activities while learning; and (v) capacity to share in global knowledge.
ICTA in partnership with Crimson Logic Pvt ltd and the Distance Learning Centre (DLC) has deployed e-learning software at the DLC which will act as a hub to manage and administer e-learning courses and content. Users visiting the Nenasalas can then access e-learning material through a web-based portal. Courses and content for the network will be sourced from a number of local and international institutions and partners. Initial content will include ICT awareness, basic ICT literacy, English language learning and supplementary primary education content. In the medium to long term, once this mode of learning becomes popular, it is expected that courses will include professional certifications, diplomas and degrees.
ICTA would like to acknowledge the contribution of its partners towards making the project a success; Electoteks Global - Broadband connectivity via VSAT, PC House –computers and VC and networking equipment, the Distance Learning Centre (DLC), Crimson Logic, Sarvodaya, Southern Eastern University and the University of Jaffna.
Prof. VK Samaranayake (Chairman, ICTA)
Manju Haththotuwa (MD/CEO, ICTA)