ICT Literacy in Sri Lanka– The Truth

May 15th, 2007 - Posted By Sujata Gamage

What happened to National ICT Education Drive ?

As we all agree ICT Literacy is considered as one of the very important components of the Education in the 21st century. Since 1980s various attempts were made to bring computers into the school curriculum. Unfortunately only in 2004, ICT was introduced as a subject in Grade 12 (A/L) (GIT) and subject in O/L(OL-IT) in Sri Lanka. In 2005 Ministry of Education launched an ICT Literacy Drive proposing Department of Examination to conduct ICT Literacy Examination Island wide. According to this any Sri Lankan could sit for ICT Literacy Examination without any pre qualification. The proposed examination fee was SL Rupees 100/=. Unfortunately the new government stopped this important initiative.

It is very interesting that Daily News Editorial (14 May 2007) discusses the issue of ICT Literacy in Sri Lanka. For some reasons the term ICT is worded as ITC in some parts of the editorial. It may be a printing mistake. Editor of the Government Owned National Newspaper however tries to bring attention of general public to important aspects of ICT and particularly the importance of ICT Literacy. It is a surprise that Daily News Editor described the “ Nanasala” Project as a project of the Ministry of Science and Technology. He had forgotten that “Nanasala” was the ICT Project initiated by President Mahinda Rajapakse when he functioned as the Prime Minister. When Ranil Wickremasinghe government initiated the “Regaining Sri Lanka” project “e-Sri Lanka” was one of the component. Mr. Milinda Moragoda was the minister in-charge (The Minister of Science and Technology ) of the project in 2003. He started VGK ( Vishwa Ghana Kendra) – telecenter project and when Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse became the Prime Minister then President CBK decided to handover e-Sri Lanka project to him. Then Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse decided to rename the VGK Project as Nanasala Project in 2004. Unfortunately After 3 years of this popular project, Editor of Daily News is unaware of this story. A responsible editor should do his research properly before publishing his editorial. Any way we should thank him for bringing this subject to his editorial.

We would like to bring the attention of the Editor, Daily News and general public on this issue with the following information.

ICT Professionals of Sri Lanka was at the Presidents House where the President CBK declared the National ICT Education Drive on 12th August 2005. According to this program it was planned to have ICT Literacy Examinations according to the following schedule:

The dates for ICT Literacy & ICT Applications have scheduled by the Department of Examinations.
26th August 2006 for ICT Literacy Certificate

27th August 2006 for ICT Application Certificate

Unfortunately the Ministry of Education or Department of Education or the office of the President has not taken necessary steps to continue with the following National ICT Literacy Program.

Information available on this is given in the following URL.

http://www.education.gov.lk/news_12.php

The National ICT Education Drive is one of the key initiatives or elements of the Education Reforms process introduced by the Ministry of Education aiming at producing a global citizen with local values who can face challenges of the new knowledge based society.

The National ICT Education Drive consists of three major components.

• ICT Education for Schools

• ICT Education for Universities

• ICT Education for All

ICT Education for schools component aims at integrating ICT into the school curriculum.

ICT for Schools programme based components:

• ICT for Advanced Level

• ICT for Ordinary Level

• ICT for Junior Secondary Level

• ICT for Primary Level

In introducing ICT into the school curriculum, the Ministry has developed two approaches:

• ICT as a subject

• ICT as a tool in learning and information handling

One of the key achievements of this programme is the introduction of General Information Technology (GIT) as a common subject for Grade 12 students in the GCE Advanced Level. The National Examination for GIT will be held for the first time on 21st August 2005. The examination will be conducted by the Department of Examinations Island wide. More than 80,000 students have applied for this examination.

Most of the work has been completed to introduce ICT as a technical subject in GCE (O/L) commencing January 2006.

The necessary planning has been completed to introduce ICT into Junior Secondary (Grades 6-9) and primary (Grade 1-5) levels.

These programmes follow the policy framework approved by the Government in 2001 and various programmes such as teacher training, electronic education content development, ICT students associations and various other initiatives are in action to support them.

In addition to Government funding, these programmes are funded by various donors.

ICT Education for Universities is the second component of the National ICT Education Drive to strengthen the ICT involvement in the University Education.

At present ICT is used highly in the ICT or Computer Science and Engineering Departments.

ICT in non-ICT degree programme need to improve in their respective degree programmes making graduates passing out from these departments more employable.

Recently University academics represently ICT facilities and departments of the University sector have prepared a policy framework and an action plan to improve ICT Education in a big way for all under graduates. Steps will be taken to use ICT extensively in teaching and research in the University sector.

ICT Education for all is the third component of this National Drive aiming at creating an ICT cultural in Sri Lanka.

The Ministry of Education has taken all necessary steps to introduce a National Examination in ICT open to the general public. This examination “Sri Lanka ICT Education” will be conducted by the Department of Examinations.

Sri Lanka ICT Examination consists of three levels of certificates.

• ICT Literacy Certificate

• ICT Application Certificate

• ICT Vocational (Foundation) Certificate

The dates for ICT Literacy & ICT Applications have scheduled by the Department of Examinations.

26th August 2006 for ICT Literacy Certificate

27th August 2006 for ICT Application Certificate

The Ministry is aiming at making 50% of the Sri Lankan population ICT literate by the year 2010.



10 comments on “ICT Literacy in Sri Lanka– The Truth

  1. Donald Gaminitillake


    I have only one question to post
    How come you implement this without solving the Sinhala language issue
    We are unable to use the computer in Sinhala across all platforms
    Text is not compatible between two computer enviornment
    Unicode Sinhala read as garbage
    Unicode consortium has accepted this error

    http://www.unicode.org/review/pr-96.html

    I quote from unicode
    “To make matters worse, it’s possible to misapply format characters such that users can create strings that look the same but actually contain different characters, which can create security problems”
    Unquote

    The Solution is given by Donald.

    First we got to correct the Sinahla SLSI and move these project forward

    Donald Gaminitillake
    Colombo

  2. Jayantha manage


    The main cause for this is the same old outdated VKS. He wanted to have the FULL CONTROL to UCSC for ICT and prevented ICTs becoming popular in schools because it could have reduced his “grip” on ICT field. If a AL/OL student gets a proper education at schools they can directly go for other pvt. institutions, and do online exams and can become IT graduates. VK Didn’t like it. When he knew that he cannot control it anymore Tec Sri Lanka, IDM, NIIT etc. were becoming popular, VK introduced BIT farce to shut those institutions up. If you want to see a better IT education, get rid of this ailing VK out of the field and send him to a monastery to meditate at this old age.

  3. Lasith Nanayakkara


    It is a pity that some senseless people getting involved in IT sector advising various politicians & frustrated ministerial officers to carryout discussions which they don’t get any credit for introducing or inventing.
    It would have been always better to have some kind of basic exam at the beginning conducted by the govt to create an awareness of general public especially outside the capital city that there is no future without some kind of knowledge in ICT.
    It was really great that the proposed exam had no prerequisites. Students who fail in examinations do not mean that they are idiots. Best example is D.S Senanayake’s Life.
    We as Sri Lankans who are well wishes to this dear country should support educate or qualify the rural community by giving them Nenasala or something more advanced (which is a joke for some Colombo people) and creating access to qualify them by sitting for recognized exams.
    Unfortunately our country has so many consultants who are TOTALLY OUTDATED but due to their henchmen and going behind politicians to secure their positions. Let me bet for anything that they cannot find a proper job anywhere in the world other than in LK. IT Industry is such that it does not take even 2 years to get outdated, not like Phisics.

    If SRILANKA to develop, THESE ” IDIOTS OF IT ” must retire

    Thanks

  4. Kaniska S.


    Dont worry so much about editors writing non facts in their editorials. Some one may have given a drink and ask him to write. Normally they are “Bothal Paththara Kaarayo”. There were so many incidents prominent Sunday papers wrote editorials in FT about their Buddies.

  5. Tony Weerasinghe


    It is pretty hard for LK to get out of this OUTDATED proffessories and OLD Consultants who’s Gods are IBM & Microsoft.
    May God Bless us

  6. Coordinator Post author


    It is great to see a discussion on this forum, thanks to new writers and of course those of you commenting.

    What is the alternate basic exam that Lasith is referring to? Is not any kind of written exam harmful to IT literacy?(I am assuming that these exams would degenerate to largely pen and paper exams). What do you think of something like the Computer Drivers license as an alternative?

    The British School in Colombo used the CDL as their assessment tool. The test actually requires a demonstration of competence at a keyboard. You can pick up the skills anywhere but you have to demonstrate competencies of a listed set of tasks at a designated computer center. NAITA (National Apprentice and Industrial Training Agency. ) is the body that is authorized to administer that. Unfortunately, That test is now not even on their Web site (http://www.naita.slt.lk/). Although ACTOS says it is (http://www.actos.lk/about.html). I have at home a little booklet that NAITA gives. I used to it guide some kids who came home to use our computers. True the CDL is mostly Microsoft-based. But would not anything be better than written exams. If the Dept of education has a skills-oriented test in mind why reinvent the wheel?

  7. Tuk Tuk Driver


    The other interesting factor is how one measures ICT literacy. Sometime back an official from Census and statistics told me they define ‘ICT literacy’ as the ‘basic ability to operate a computer – irrespective of its type’. Perhaps these people might be under the impression that computer too is an equipment like a mobile phone. So according to this definition, even a student who knows nothing more than playing a simple computer game is taken as IT literate.

    This is the equivalent of treating the people who can just write their names as ‘literate’.

    This definition is good for politicians. They can claim they have increased IT literacy from X% to Y% in Z years etc, but I am not sure whether it has any impact on the society at large.

    There was also a discussion on parallel lines at LIRNEasia site sometime back. http://www.lirneasia.net/2006/08/sri-lankas-computer-literacy-survey-questionnaire

  8. Deepal


    As a Govt. ICT teacher I feel that most of the responsible people are wasting the time neglecting practical problems; too busy accusing each other.

    If we have a quick look at the present situation; the children have a great enthusiasm for computers and they pour into computer labs when ever the time permits, intending to learn something new. Comparing to the year 2000, the present day student has a kind of an acquired ICT knowledge which eases the burden of the teacher (In my school the school computer section was started in the year 2000 with the support of Lanka Academic Network).Parents also direct their children towards learning computers and most of the enthusiastic and educated parents think about purchasing PC s and getting internet connections. Teachers are being trained and now most of them have basic ICT knowledge to use ICT in the teaching-learning process. Responses for the G.C.E O\L ICT subject are positive and now even the private institutions have begun supplementary classes for the ICT and GIT subjects. Educational content in local languages are emerging slowly although the said software are still to be improved. The government spends millions of Rupees to improve school ICT sections and the SchoolNet shows promising developments. As you notice all above are positive points and as we all know all these points are overused in flashy news headings and big ICT conferences. After believing all these colorful stories it is hard to avoid us from gliding into a dream of a possible ICT boost in a few more months time.

    In understanding the real situation, it is important to have a closer look at the subject matter and you are sure to find some disturbing bitter factors underneath the layers of sugar of ICT education in Sri Lanka. The biggest problem the teachers have to face is finding a way to deal with rigid school time tables/curriculum and formal education procedures. There must be a control and a good system to monitor but those measures should not delay the progress for too long. Teachers require further trainings and more capacity building programs on the practical use of ICT in the daily teaching-learning process,. At present there is no proper way to select teachers for special trainings and most of the opportunities are limited to the metropolitan nucleus.

    Schools need more computers and there should be mechanism to maintain the machines properly but unfortunately the enthusiastic computer providers have failed to provide a quality after sales service even after selling a computer to a chubby sum of 155,000 LKR ( Correct me if the amount is wrong). One company with a surgical Precision constantly fails to attend their maintenance tasks and they easily neglect the jobs undertaken with assigned numbers. Either this company is formed instantly for the purpose and now only the receptionist is remaining or may be they are busy with new orders. (The writer will reveal full company details including contact numbers in the next communication) The number of computers could have been tripled if the computers were purchased from a local vendor who satisfies govt. criteria. The furniture is of low quality (The lecture hall chairs: They have used a stapler to fix the seat covering and this was the first time I witnessed such a thing)

    The “Sinhala Language Issue” is another major problem we are going around for nearly decade now. I have a few very simple questions to ask: Why can’t I use Sinhala in the computer as I use the English. What is the reason for the huge gaps in the text of Sinhala websites? If Japanese and other languages with thousands of characters can be successfully used in computers why can’t we find a solution to this Sinhala language problem? TThe students and teachers require more educational content but the system has failed to cater the present need.he Sinhala/Tamil speaking people are waiting for the day they can use their native languages in computers and the ICT experts of our country are fighting with each other refusing to listen or to think. The local content must enter the web freely and then only the common people can reap the real benefits of ICT.

    Thank you

  9. Donald Gaminitillake


    I am addressing this issue for more than 5 years
    The reason is Sri Lanka registered a substandard Sinhala in the SLSI and unicode
    They had no knowledge of Sinhala “AKURU” They knew only a typewriter
    Computer is not a typewriter but looks so.
    For them it was just an extension of a typewriter

    Please do not mix the word “english” and Latin Script
    “english” is written by using the Latin Script. All characters in the Latin script are registered in the unicode falling into several pages.

    Visit
    http://www.decodeunicode.org/

    and click on any ;;;; to see the registered characters

    Sinhala is given on

    http://www.decodeunicode.org/w3.php?ucHex=0D80

    You can see that you cannot write a simple letter like “DU” “KU”
    There are no locations for these characters

    So every font maker either image these characters wrong or give a different locations in their font
    Therefore the text written by one writer cannot be read by another writer looks garbage

    ICTA came with the unicode sinhala. This also reads as rubbish

    Visit
    http://www.unicode.org/review/pr-96.html

    quote from unicode
    To make matters worse, it’s possible to misapply format characters such that users can create strings that look the same but actually contain different characters, which can create security problems (see UTR# 36: Unicode Security Considerations).
    Unquote

    If you go down on the same unicode link they have given an image for you to read.

    also visit
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7528191@N04/

    for more examples

    We have the change the SLSI 1134 and I have the solution
    I have published it on ISBN 955-98975-0-0 (C)

    Invite me to solve the probelm

    Donald Gaminitillake
    http://www.akuru.org

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