The last computer literacy survey done by the Census and Statistics Department in 2004 puts the IT literacy of the 5-69 yrs population in Sri Lanka less than 10%. (See graph)
Of course, one has to take these figures with a pinch of salt. The life expectance in Sri Lanka is not 69 years (It is 72 for males and 77 for females) so the figures are skewed more towards the younger population.
Also it is noteworthy that the ‘IT literacy’ was defined in this survey as the ‘ability to operate a computer’ – even for a basic task like copying a file or playing games.
So the 10% IT literacy rate does not mean much. Practically the IT literacy rate of the entire Sri Lankan population cannot be more than 5%. Depending upon what we mean by ‘IT literacy it can even be as low as 1-2%. (According to Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Sri Lanka the number of Internet and E-mail subscribers in Sri Lanka has been only 150,000 by the quarter 1, 2007)
Now ICTA says the IT literacy rate in Sri Lanka has risen to 15-20%. The simple fact of giving a range instead of an exact figure indicates this is nothing but pure gestimation. As far as we know the results of 2007 IT literacy survey has not been published. (Of course, ICTA can always correct us if this is wrong) All we say that goes against our common sense.
Of course as we all know, cooking up statistics for political mileage is not treated as a crime in this country.
This is what Daily News reported today.
Boom in IT literacy rate
Anjana Samarasinghe and Tamara Nissanka
ICTA Consultant J.K Perera told Daily News the country’s IT literacy rate is between 15 percent to 20 percent. ICTA is targeting to increase this amount to 60 percent.
Earlier only the Western Province contributed to the country’s IT literacy level. But there is a significant growth in the rural communities who have IT literacy.
Under the Nenasala initiative ICTA was able to establish 400 Nenasala units around the country. The 400th Nenasala was established yesterday at the Colombo District Secretariat. ICTA expects to increase this number to 600 by the end of this year.
“We have establish a Nenasala at the Foreign Employment Bureau (FEB). Within a few months time we will be linking all the Nenasala centres in the island with the FEB Nenasala.
This will help rural youth to find foreign job opportunities available at the FEB, Perera said.
Project Manager Information Infrastructure of ICTA S. Gavashkar told Daily News that they have nearly 15 Nenasala centres in North East areas and they have noticed that there is a high demand for the videoconferencing.
In North, ICTA has Nenasala centres in the Jaffna University and Palali. Most of the people live in Jaffna use videoconferencing to keep in touch with their relatives abroad, he said.
He also said that apart from Nenasala centres there are private communication centres in north, and these communication facilities are available at affordable prices. At present in Jaffna they charge Rs 60 for one hour Internet surfing.
Nenasala units function with the objective of achieving ICT development in rural areas, poverty alleviation through strengthening administration and providing opportunities for every citizen to develop their global knowledge by getting in touch with the world.
Every e-Nenasala unit provides access to the Internet, e-mail, phone calls and other educational facilities.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 400th Nenasala. Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs Karu Jayasuriya said the revival in ICT currently seen in the country will serve to restore old certificates (Birth, death etc.).
It will also help resolve immense difficulties faced by the people throughout the documentation process of receiving various Government allowances.
The Minister also said the development of information infrastructure would contribute to make a change in the attitudes of the people where Government administration will be viewed in a more positive light by the masses.