Held on September 19, 2020, via Zoom
VIDEO: Click here
- Introduction – Dr. Tara de Mel
- Master Plan for ICT in Education – Prof. Kapila Perera, Secretary, Ministry of Education and former Vice Chancellor, University of Moratuwa
- Digital Infrastructure – Mr. Indika de Zoysa, Vice President, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies Lanka
- Integrating ICT into Education – Mr. Hasitha Dela, CEO, Headstart
- Response & Comments – Dr. Sujata Gamage
Vibrant discussion on Integrating IT in Sri Lankan Education
(Written by By Mr. Niresh Eliatamby and Dr. Ruwan Dias of www.cogitaro.com; Click here for PDF )
The latest Education Policy Dialogue webinar conducted by Education Forum Sri Lanka witnessed a vibrant discussion among the panel and the audience on the role that ICT should play in the field of education in Sri Lanka.
The monthly series of webinars is hosted by Education Forum Sri Lanka and discusses a variety of topics ranging from preschool education to postgraduate matters. Education Sri Lanka comprises many eminent Sri Lankan academics who are dedicated to advancing the quality of education at all levels in Sri Lanka.
The 2.5 hour online discussion on 19th September 2020 on the theme of ‘Digital Infrastructure for Integrating ICTs in Education, Distant and Otherwise’ was moderated by Dr. Tara de Mel, former Secretary of Education and a founder of Education Forum Sri Lanka.
The three panelists were Prof. Kapila Perera, Secretary to the Ministry of Education; Indika De Zoysa, Vice President, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies Lanka; and Hasitha Dela, CEO, Headstart.
Dr. Sujata Gamage, a founder of Education Forum Sri Lanka, provided a synopsis of points made by the panelists and the audience; while Dr. Nicholas Ruwan Dias and Niresh Eliatamby of Cogitaro.com served as Rapporteurs.
The need to utilize ICT as a tool for the facilitation of teaching and learning all subjects, to create well rounded students and adults, instead of viewing ICT as a subject was an important point that was made by several members of the audience.
Dr. de Mel provided a comprehensive overview of the current situation in ICT infrastructure in education, both Sri Lanka and in regional nations, noting that many countries such as Nepal and Malaysia are far ahead of Sri Lanka.
Prof. Kapila Perera provided a comprehensive description of the many future programmes in ICT in general education that the Ministry of Education has planned nationwide from preschools to universities. He noted that the focus would be on equipping schools and universities and empowering them with both IT and English skills. He also described the existing situation and ongoing initiatives such as the use of satellite TV for education. In his opinion the failure to keep pace in IT in education, even with similar developing nations such as Nepal and India was due more to lack of commitment than a shortage of funding; but added that IT is a key focus of the President and Minister of Education.
Mr. Indika de Zoysa gave a presentation on the need to create a student-centric learning environment through ICT, noting that the President has declared 2021-30 as the ‘Decade of Skills Development’ to include over 6 million students. He described the gap in skills between the needs of the private sector and what skills job applicants possess, and the shortage of qualified applicants. He also spoke of the need for a paradigm shift to online, blended and distance learning.
Mr. Hasitha Dela’s opinion was that ICT should be an enabler of all round education for all subjects, and that ICT itself should not be the focus of education. The focus should be on teachers using the ICT tools and whether they are optimizing existing infrastructure, especially in areas such as content development, visual impact and practical usage for end-users. He noted that the experience of veteran teachers is invaluable for bringing out the best in students, giving examples of schools where teachers and students are already using ICT in a very active way for a variety of purposes.
Dr. Sujata Gamage in her comments pointed to the need for demand side indicators to understand what is required, rather than focusing only on the supply side of ICT infrastructure in education; in particular how students are using ICT and what their requirements are. She noted that there is a pressing need to change the current exam system to leave time for students to let their talent flow in the usage of ICT. She added that there is also a need to keep schools open all day and develop school ICT infrastructure, since it is impossible with the low level of digital penetration in the country to provide infrastructure to many rural homes.