2009 - Year of ICT and English:
A milestone towards peace and prosperity
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has declared 2009 as the year of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and English. This declaration is not a mere verbal decoration.
Just as much deliberation and minute planning go into the building of the ship that will take the people on the journey towards the destination, long and short term plans have been in place for this declaration.
A cabinet sub-committee on Human Resources Development had recommended it. The organisational structures which were involved with the subject got revamped in advance.
The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) the single apex body involved in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy, direction and development for the nation was given a new lease of life.
The amending Act No. 33 of 2008 passed in Parliament unanimously rendered ICTA set up in July 2003 by Act No. 27 of 2003 more implementation-friendly.
The amending Act also made ICTA’s life span open-ended and not limited just for five years as was the case earlier.
In a further move of emphasising the importance of the ICT and English language year, two task forces were also set up for carrying out the special tasks in the field of ICT and English language in view of the ICT and English Language Year. The relevant task forces have been doing immense work though in relative silence.
While ICTA has by now made great strides in promoting ICT, it hopes to intensify its efforts even further in the ICT year.
In view of the declaration of 2009 as the year of ICT, the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) has taken steps to implement an extensive national programme to disseminate among the people awareness about ICT.
These awareness campaigns will be organised in such a way that it will become clear to the people how the benefits of information technology could be used to make their lives more comfortable.
ICTA has planned to launch these campaigns through newspapers, radio and television throughout the whole year. These will be simple and attractive to the target group, which is the public.
The declaration of 2009 as the year of ICT and English is a great milestone in the Government’s long term plan to make people’s lives more comfortable by the use of ICT.
By proper ICT development it is hoped that the Government will be able to earn a revenue of two billion US dollars by 2012.
It is further hoped that job opportunities for over 100,000 youths will be made available in the information and communication sector as a result of development in the ICT sector.
Science and Technology Minister Tissa Vitharana in connection with presentation of the ICT Amendment bill in September 2008 said : “I think the ICT Agency has laid a platform on which we can develop ICT and I am happy to mention here that the President has declared the year 2009 as the ICT Year and the platform is ready for take off in this sector so that our economy can profit by a large number of jobs being created”.
ICT comes under eSri Lanka. The eSri Lanka initiative uses ICT to develop the economy of Sri Lanka, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of the people.
It includes an integrated strategy that encompasses building information infrastructure, creating an enabling environment, developing ICT human resources, modernising the Government and leveraging ICT for economic and social development.
Thus eSri Lanka envisions harnessing of ICT as a lever for economic and social advancement by taking the dividends of ICT to every village, citizen and business and re-engineering the way the Government thinks and works.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an increasingly powerful tool for participating in global markets, promoting political accountability, improving the delivery of basic services and enhancing local development opportunities.
The objective of declaring 2009 as the year of ICT is to motivate people to avail themselves of the benefits of ICT irrespective of their age, strata in life or any other difference.
One of the pre-requisites in making ICT support our lives is for people to be ICT literate. People have tangibly become more comfortable in their day-to-day lives, thanks to ICT.
Among the ICT tools more known to the citizens of Sri Lanka are SMS, fax, email, internet and mobile phone facilities. More and more advances in ICT keep developing with every minute.
In the world today we live in a knowledge economy where information means almost everything.
If people are not empowered by giving them access to information and knowledge the rift between communities will only become more widened.
Globalisation and creation of the global village are in the making. There are immense possibilities in ICT. Just as the development of tools, invention of the locomotive, or the printing machine made ideas such as a flat earth obsolete and a matter for laughter there is much hope that development in ICT might render a large number of concepts that some of us now consider dogmatic but are destructive may fall apart giving way to an entirely new, better and safer way of life.
For example ICT development may make people so linked that differences in ethnicity, language, religion, homeland, culture, sex etc. may not seem so vast as to warrant even dreaming of any form of violence in the name of safeguarding them.
Yes, thanks to future development in ICT, a time may come when people may ask themselves “Did our forefathers fight over these petty differences? Did one group fail to give the other group its rights? or Did the other group think that the ‘denial’ of the right was so earth-shattering that there was no option but to take to violence?”
Possibilities are infinite and ICT is capable of taking us to the destination of a society where brotherhood and global village are tangible realities where current homeland theories and concepts of majority and minority communities are a thing of the past just as the theory of a flat earth is now a thing of the past and a matter for laughter.
Will the 365 days of 2009 the year of ICT and English bring every citizen of Sri Lanka many levels closer to that destination! ICT makes people be joined to the world community with more emphasis on visuals even when they don’t speak the same language.
English makes people join the world community through a language that is most used in the world today. English is a global language. It is the first official language of the United Nations.
Those who know English have an edge over those who don’t.
This is so in business, use of technology, placement at universities, higher education, employment, marriage market, socialisation and the efforts towards peace and prosperity.