Nenasalas for all instead of internet-cafes for a few
At a time when world funding bodies were proposing the setting up of internet-cafés in the cities of Sri Lanka, in a manner that would only cater to the rich elite, President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided that Nenasalas or Wisdom Outlets should be set up island-wide to cater to the poor rural folk, Science and Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitarana said.
The Minister made this statement during the first National Nenasala Convention held at the Western Province Aesthetic Resort in Colombo recently.
Although the world’s economy is today faced with a severe crisis, the Nenasalas numbering about 570 operating island-wide can raise the standard of the people’s lives through technology, the Minister explained.
| Telecentre.org/IDRC Senior Project Officer Dr.Basheer Ahamed Shadrak,|
ICTA Chairman Prof.P.W.Epasinghe, Science and Technology Minister
Prof.Tissa Vitarana,Secretary to the President and Chairman UN-ESCAP
ICT Committee,Lalith Weeratunga,ICTA Chief Operating Officer,Reshan
Dewapura and Director School of Computing University of Colombo Dr.
Ruwan Weerasinghe at the First National Nenasala Convention.
President’s Secretary and Chairman of Information and Communication Technology Committee of UN-ESCAP, Lalith Weeratunga delivering the keynote address thanked the Nenasala personnel on behalf of President Rajapaksa and his government, for their contribution to the success of the project. He urged them to meet the future challenges with the same dedication as shown in the past.
Weeratunga pointed out that in April 2004 the computer literacy rate of Sri Lanka was even less than 1%. Thanks to President Rajapaksa’s concept, in four to five years Sri Lanka’s computer literacy rate reached the 30% mark, he said. The President’s Secretary presented the Nenasala personnel the challenge of making 50% of Sri Lanka computer literate by the end of 2009.
Meanwhile, IDRC’s Disaster Management Division Chief Dr. Basheer Ahmed Shadra requested the Nenasala personnel to pass on their valuable experiences to other countries as well.
Ven. Hepolagama Sirisumana Thera described how the Samadhi Nikethana Buddhist Centre Nenasala at Diyabubula, Bibile originated as a response to a newspaper advertisement and has reached its current status. Krishnasamy Kantheepan gave an account of the history of the development of the Social Aid Foundation Nenasala in Badulla, which was started with just nine students. He said that the Nenasala had proved the axiom that “challenges are the secret of success.”
During the convention two more important events took place: Setting up of the Asia Pacific Telecentre Network Secretariat in Sri Lanka and the launching of the Telecentre.org Academy of Sri Lanka. While the setting up of the Asia Pacific Telecentre Network Secretariat in Sri Lanka was carried out by the Secretary to the President and Chairman of UN-ESCAP’s Committee on Information and Communication Technology, Lalith Weeratunga, the launching of the Telecentre.org Academy of Sri Lanka was carried out by Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) Chairman, Prof. P.W. Epasinghe.
Lalith Weeratunga gave an insight into the benefits of the Asia Pacific Telecentre Network Secretariat being hosted by Sri Lanka: “I, being delighted that Sri Lanka has been selected to host the Secretariat of the Asia Pacific Telecentre Network and being aware that by hosting the Secretariat in Sri Lanka can benefit as well as perform a pivotal role in making world community benefit from innovation and knowledge-sharing amongst Telecentre organisations in the Asia-Pacific region, do hereby set up the Asia Pacific Telecentre Network Secretariat in Sri Lanka on this day the seventh of February 2009.”
Launching the Telecentre.org Academy of Sri Lanka, Prof. P. W. Epasinhge described the purpose of the academy thus: “I, being aware of the benefits that will accrue to Sri Lanka by the existence and activities of the Telecentre.org Academy of Sri Lanka as an initiative to provide telecentre personnel in Sri Lanka with ongoing training, capacity-building and opportunities for professional development including knowledge and learning-experience sharing with counterpart organisations in the world community, do hereby declare open the Telecentre.org Academy of Sri Lanka on this day the seventh of February 2009.”