Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Telecentre Pioneers Connect To Compare Notes

10.04.2008
As hundreds of citizens around Sri Lanka help spread the benefits of modern technology to small communities, 20 of them find inspiration on a study tour to India.

Two dozen Sri Lankan telecentre pioneers came away from a recent study tour to India inspired by the pivotal role women are playing in bridging the digital divide.

They were also impressed with mobile health services in rural India that rely on information and communication technologies (ICTs), and with a community-centred approach within the telecentre movement that puts grassroots needs first.

The first facility launched as part of a Sri Lankan government drive to extend the digital revolution to rural and semi-urban areas opened in a temple in Katharagama in the southern part of the island on January 1, 2005. The launch, planned long in advance, was able to proceed despite the Indian Ocean tsunami a few days earlier that had devastated coastal areas.

Since then, more than 500 telecentres have been set up under the “e-Sri Lanka initiative,” enabling villagers scattered around the country to receive computer training and browse the Internet, as well as print, fax, phone, and photocopy.

Sri Lanka hopes to have 1 000 of these nenasalas (“global knowledge centres”) up and running around the country by the end of 2008. The initiative forms part of a government effort to help communities tackle poverty, boost social and economic development, and build peace.

The nenasalas are run by individual villagers and religious or community groups. Prospective operators, who must be able to provide the space for a facility, are given training and all the necessary equipment, which is free of charge for two years. Most of the centres have two to four computers, a photocopy machine, printer, scanner, Web camera, and Internet access.

When the 500th such centre was opened in January 2008, President Mahinda Rajapakshe marked the occasion by announcing a commemorative postage stamp and a special study tour to India. Twenty nenasala operators, accompanied by four officials involved in the e-Sri Lanka initiative, were given the opportunity to visit telecentres in southern India and compare notes with counterparts there. Those selected for the trip run nenasalas in all corners of Sri Lanka, including the troubled northeast.

In February, the Sri Lankan delegation spent a week as guests of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and the Union Territory of Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry). Professor Swaminathan, the father of India’s Green Revolution in agriculture, has spearheaded a campaign in recent years to spread access to modern technology throughout rural India. A pilot project he led in the 1990s, supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre, grew into a nationwide movement that has spawned tens of thousands of “village knowledge centres” around India.

The study tour was organized by the Sri Lankan government’s Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), MSSRF, and telecentre.org – an international network supported by IDRC, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and Microsoft that is committed to increasing the social and economic impact of telecentres.

Trip participant Harsha Wijayawardhana, Assistant Secretary in the Sri Lankan President’s Secretariat, was impressed with the community orientation of India's village knowledge centres. “They provide services beyond computer education,” he said. “For example, they offer market-related information, vocational training, health, fishery, and agriculture-related information."

Wijayawardhana plans to submit a trip report containing recommendations for Sri Lanka. “The participation of women is a must, and we will explore innovative ways to ensure women participate and avail themselves of the benefits of nenasalas," he said. "We will also make nenasalas people-centric, based on a bottom-up approach."

Basheerhamad Shadrach, a senior program officer with telecentre.org, said that although Sri Lanka is a late entrant to the global telecentre movement, the involvement of the President’s office shows the high-level commitment to the endeavour. The study tour gave the Sri Lankan visitors “a new insight into telecentres as a community development tool,” he added. “I could see their excitement and enthusiasm.”

Below, four nenasala operators share their thoughts at the end of the study tour. Please click on the link on the top or bottom of this page to download their pictures.

Deepika Gurusinghe Arachchige
Sooriya Wewa, Southern Province
Deepika Gurusinghe Arachchige has two young daughters and a thriving, three-year-old business. She opened her nenasala on May 15, 2005, making ICT services available for the first time to the 15 000 residents of 22 villages. Inspired by the role models she met in India, she is eager to get more women involved in her nenasala. She wants to explore how ICTs might be used in agriculture, fisheries, and industry back home, and would like to see a mobile health facility in her area. She is also looking forward to hopping on her motorbike with her laptop to spread awareness among fellow villagers of what ICTs have to offer.
Rev. T. Nandasiri
Kirthi Sri Raja Maha Vihara, Sabaragamuwa Province
The Buddhist monk opened his nenasala inside a monastery in 2005. It also serves the wider community of about 5 000 people living in 15 villages. On days of worship, the telecentre attracts more than 150 visitors, 10 times the usual number. Rev. Nandasiri has given computer training to about 50 students, half of whom have secured jobs as a result. The visit to India has changed the way he will operate his nenasala, he says. Few women currently visit the facility because of its location, but he has decided to relocate it outside the monastery.
M. N. M. Rinoos
Jaya Nagar, Eastern Province
Engineering student M.N.M. Rinoos opened his nenasala in 2005. Still in his mid-20s, he has already led a successful computer-awareness campaign and introduced an e-learning program to eight schools. His telecentre serves 40 villages and attracts 20 to 25 visitors a day. In addition to browsing the Internet, villagers can receive computer training or get help with a job search. The study tour gave him some ideas on how villagers in Sri Lanka might use ICTs to access government services and markets for their products. He also thinks they could benefit from educational CDs he learned about in India.
Rev. M. Devasagayam
Bogawantala, Central Province
Rev. M. Devasagayam, pastor at St. Mary's Church in Bogawantala, runs a nenasala that serves 4 000 to 5 000 people, most of whom work on 10 large tea estates. The study tour impressed on him the importance of providing villagers with income-generating opportunities and useful information. With access to the Internet, farmers can improve agricultural and animal husbandry practices, and fishers can find reliable weather forecasts, for example. Rev. Devasagayam was excited by India’s mobile health services, and inspired by the people-centred (rather than technology-centred) approach of the village knowledge centres, and their evident empowerment of women.

This report is based on interviews conducted by IDRC's Prabha Sethuraman and telecentre.org's Vignesh Sornamohan, who is based at the Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies near New Delhi.

Prabha Sethuraman | ResearchSEA
Further information:
http://www.researchsea.com/html/article.php/eml/1/aid/2968/cid/2

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

nachricht Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>