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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

ICTA empowers rural tele-center operators

Daily Mirror: 24/11/2005"

Recognizing the importance of capacity building in ensuring that rural communication centers migrate up the value chain to become true knowledge centers, the ICT Agency conducted a two day residential workshop at the Distance Learning centre at the SLIDA for 60 ‘nanasala’ (tele-Center) operators from various parts of the country. The operators came from remote centres in the Deep South such as Buttala, Suriyawewa and from Koslande and Welimada in the Uva area.

The programme was inaugurated by the Chairman of the ICT agency Prof V K Samaranayake. Manju Haththotuwa the CEO of the ICT Agency shared with participants his vision of an e- Sri Lanka. A vision in which the Nanasala operators had key role to play. Each participant worked at his or her own computer, learning how to access information from the Internet, how government forms such as passport application could be down loaded from the Govt, web site. Participants were taken through a wide range of information in digital format collected by the Agency from various organizations – both state and private. This included multimedia CDs on a variety of topics from how to grow a variety of crops such as tea, rice, onion, on environment, on culture as well as a wide range of educational CDs.

Representative of Jobsnet were on hand to educate participants on how they could use the web in registering with the Job Bank and in finding employment opportunities. Officers of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board gave practical demonstrations on how to access market prices, find buyers and market products on line. This information was extremely relevant as the financial sustainability of nanasals needs to be supported through auxiliary sources of revenue via e-commerce, information sale and training.

E- channeling was another important area covered through this programme – another auxiliary source of revenue for nanasala operators. Representatives of e- Channelling who were there explained how it worked and as an initial gesture issued “web cards” to a section of those present so that they could launch this services through their centres, serving the community while earning a revenue for themselves.

ICT Agency took the opportunity of the presence of operators from differing parts of the country to launch a community needs assessment. The key objective being to ensure that the information needs of the communities are being met - making sure that communities themselves get involved in their own developments.

“The Nanasala operators training session was very useful for us, since we learnt lot of ways in which we can help the villagers through internet. Though we knew how to use e-mail, we were not really using it fully. Now we can e mail each other through Nanasala Yahoo group and we know how we can get a lot of useful information for the people of our village through the Internet,” nanasala operator V. Dissanayake from Wanduruppe, Hambantota says.

“This skills development work shop organized by the ICT Agency made me think. I now have a better idea of how we can all join to develop our Country through ICT,” another ‘nansala’ operator Janaka Ruwan Kumara from Embilipitiya said.

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