The apex body in directing the ICT permeation in the country, the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka, was the main facilitator and driving force behind the introduction of the Sinhala Language Interface Pack for Windows 7. ICTA in close collaboration with Microsoft Corporation and Microsoft Sri Lanka spearheaded the project as part of their mission to take IT across the country enabling people access computers in their preferred language. The first copy of the LIP software CD was presented to Hon. MP Namal Rajapaksa at a recently held event in Beliatta.
The introduction of a Sinhala interface to operate the computer will ensure IT knowledge and experience are accessible to a large population especially in the rural parts of the country who have hitherto not had the opportunity to use a computer due to the language barrier. With this endeavour ICTA and Microsoft together aim to bridge the digital divide that exists between the rural and urban areas where computer access is largely concentrated.
Microsoft with their long term commitment to the Government’s initiative of promoting IT across the island championed the cause of developing the local language interface for their latest operating system Windows 7 that has gained worldwide acclaim since its launch.
The Sinhala LIP software, which was originally launched on the Windows Vista Operating System and Microsoft Office 2007, now provides a primarily localised user experience for Windows 7: the world’s most popular operating system, providing users with menus, buttons and instructions in Sinhala. The features included allow users to locate any document, file or programme on the hard drive or web giving users the opportunity to experience two of the world’s most popular software in a language that they are familiar and comfortable with. In addition to enabling people to access and use a computer in Sinhala, the LIP also enables users to use an internet search engine in Sinhala, opening up endless possibilities for knowledge gathering and sharing.
“User friendliness, which has been a signature trait of the Windows 7 operating system, has been taken to a whole new level with this new Sinhala LIP – bringing software closer to Sri Lankan users. The introduction of Sinhala LIP takes information technology to a whole new audience who have until now been left behind only due to their lack of English knowledge. We are thankful to ICTA for collaborating with us on this project and hope to continue working together to spread ICT to all parts of the nation”, said Channa de Silva, Director, Public Sector for Microsoft Sri Lanka.
The biggest barriers to the proliferation of IT across the island in the local context include geographic accessibility, finance and ultimately the most fundamental of all – language. Over the years, Microsoft Sri Lanka has endeavoured to bridge these gaps in collaboration with the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka. The launch of the revolutionary Language Interface Pack has helped accomplish the vision of the Government to a great extent.
Senior Programme Head- Strategic Communications and Media at ICTA of Sri Lanka Mr. Athula Pushpakumara said, “We hope that this new Language Interface Pack will help in changing the widely held view that computer technology is only for those who are English literate and tech savvy and not for all the people of the country. We want to encourage more and more Sri Lankans to adopt IT into their daily lives and become more efficient and productive. We know that introducing this Sinhala LIP cuts through a very prominent language barrier for a majority of the people of the nation. Our longstanding partnerships with international IT giants such as Microsoft have helped us in our endeavour to improve the levels of IT penetration in the country.”
ICTA is a key entity that works towards increasing the rate of IT adoption in the country. It initiates many activities and programmes to make IT available and user friendly to more and more people. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to prepare the entire nation to face the demands of a technologically advanced 21st century. ICTA is instrumental in driving the local language IT initiative. In 2009 ICTA collaborated with Microsoft Sri Lanka to develop and introduce the Sinhala Language Interface Packs for Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. These Sinhala LIPs gave users the opportunity to experience two of the world’s most popular software in a language that they are familiar and comfortable with.
This Sinhala LIP for Windows has been made available to all, as a free download via www.microsoft.com/srilanka website and will soon be made freely available to users via CD.