Connect a School, Connect a Community Initiative
Fact Sheet – Sri Lanka
Schooling in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's population has a literacy rate of 92% - one of the highest in Asia. Education plays a major part in the life and culture of the country.
Most of the schools in Sri Lanka provide primary and secondary education from grades 1 to 13. Students sit for the GCE Ordinary Level Examination in grade 11 and the GCE Advanced Level in grade 13.
While most national and private schools in cities are usually single-sex, rural schools tend to be co-ed. In recent decades, a large number of international schools have been established. Many schools offer subjects in Sinhala and Tamil languages, with leading schools also offering subjects in English.
The empowering benefits of a technological and increasingly inter-connected world have dramatically democratized the potential access to knowledge and information over the last decade. Developments in information communications technology (ICT) are fundamentally altering the way people live, connect, communicate and transact, with profound effects on development. ICT is critical to social development, underpinning economic advances and improvements in health systems, education and civic infrastructure.
The ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative is a pioneering programme designed to promote broadband Internet connectivity for schools around the world. Its purpose is to ensure that schools can serve as community ICT centres for rural, marginal urban and isolated areas.
After successful implementation in the Central American state of Nicaragua, the Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative is currently being implemented in Asia-Pacific, and in particular in Sri Lanka.
ICT offers new opportunities for education via distance learning and online teaching, and ICT skills are increasingly important to students looking at future job opportunities. Because they are widely dispersed throughout communities, ICT-connected schools can also play a critical role as community hubs, helping others in towns and villages get online through shared access to equipment and ICT-trained staff.
But in the developing world, many schools face difficulties in putting in place the necessary equipment, high-speed connections and trained teaching and support personnel.
Building on a successful implementation in 2011 that has already connected 25 schools in Akuressa, in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka, through a so-called ‘4P model’ (public/private/peoples’ partnership), ITU is working in close partnership with the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) to further extend the programme across Sri Lanka. An additional 33 primary and secondary schools all over the country have been targeted, each of which will be provided with access to ICT and broadband Internet connectivity serving over 100 students per school by end 2012.
In total, the Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative will reach nine provinces: Central, Eastern, Northern, North Central, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern Uva and Western Sri Lanka. Districts include, Ampara, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Batticaloa, Colombo, Galle, Gampaha Hambanthota, Jaffna, Kaluthara, Kandy, Kegalle, Kilinochchi, Kurunegala, Mannar, Matale, Matara, Monaragala, Mullativu, Nuwara Eliya, Polonnaruwa, Puttalam, Ratnapura, Trincomalee and Vavuniya.
Several critical areas of focus have also been identified, including providing resources to schools that do not have access to ICT facilities in remote and rural areas, and conducting educational programmes for special-needs children (such as children with disabilities) through specialized education unit facilities.
Improving access to ICT – specifically among young people – will continue to transform economic and social activities and the individuals and communities communicate and function. ITU is committed to connecting all the world's people – wherever they live and whatever their means. ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau supports children and young people from developing countries as well as nations in transition to improve their access, use and knowledge of ICT, to promote digital inclusion and ensure everyone can take their place in tomorrow’s Knowledge Society.
To echo the words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s comments at a recent ITU Youth Forum, “We know what a difference it can make. Connected schools can become connected community ICT centres. They can provide a vital link to marginalized and vulnerable groups. They can become an information lifeline for women, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and those living in rural, remote and underserved areas. Turning this goal into reality will take teamwork. We must strengthen our own networks.”
For more information:
Mr Sameer Sharma, ITU Regional Office, Asia Pacific (Bangkok): firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Susan Schorr, BDT (Geneva): email@example.com