Sri Lanka’s most detailed and useful ICT policy can be found here.
Last updated: December 1, 2003
Published by: The World Bank
Other updates to the policy can be found at this link.
There have been various reports detailing updates to the policy from 2004 to 2012.
Last updated: December 8, 2012
Published by: The World Bank
Here is the website for the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka.
Here is the website for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Telecommunications.
Sri Lanka’s information can be found within the EIU rankings, the Global Information Technology Report rankings, and the ITU rankings.
The World Bank has updated information about Sri Lanka.
Here is an ICT4D development movement that was helpful.
Published by: Sarvodaya
While Sri Lanka is definitely growing in the ICT sector, it can be difficult to find specific information about the projects that they have done and their policies. This lack of information made some of the research confusing and challenging at times. I would not discourage you from choosing Sri Lanka, however, because I found it to be very interesting. There is some good information out there, and hopefully this eases the searching.
Before this class, ICT4D was just an acronym that I really did not understand. Little did I know that I would come to be involved in many aspects of the ICT4D field, using Twitter, blogs, mapping, and other technologies to broaden our class knowledge base and get engaged. I would have never known how big the ICT4D field really is, not to mention how easy it is to be involved in it as well. With these connections via various modes of communicative technology, as well as multiple visits from speakers within the ICT4D field, our class gained many different perspectives and a wealth of knowledge.
The truth is, most ICT projects do not work. One of the most important lessons that I have learned in the classroom this semester is that the latest and greatest technology is not always best. Upon entering the classroom, I never thought about the challenges or complications of inserting technology into a country. In order to even try to initiate a successful project with ICTs, these things must be considered. What I will take away from this class is not only why ICT initiatives fail, but also how we can work to make those ICT initiatives better.
Keeping technology simple and relevant is the best option. The technology that will be implemented has to be fitting for the targeted area. Development professionals must always be thinking about design, connectivity, monitoring and evaluation, stakeholders, and so many other concepts crucial to the creation of a successful project. We have seen countless examples where ICTs are brought into an area that do not have proper supportive infrastructure for this kind of technology. Mobile phones, OLPC, and m-learning projects in so many countries are prime examples of this. Our class did not simply focus on the failures though. I distinctly remember discussing spending an entire class period discussing the success of ICT during Hurricane Sandy and how that success could be applied in developing countries.
I truly appreciated the relevance of this class to my everyday life. Unfortunately there are classes that I take here at Tulane that do not give me real life applications or skills that I can use for my future career plans. ICT4D proved to be relevant in so many aspects, showing real life examples of how the field was making changes as they were happening. This class used hands-on approaches to learning that made me really feel like I was learning and contributing to something. This class has given me knowledge and tools that I will take with me in my future with development. I hope to further my knowledge of ICT4D, learning more about mapping technology, inequality, and security.
Speaker Adam Papendieck discussed cloud computing as one of the latest developments in data and Internet technology. Cloud computing, or “the cloud” as Adam says, is simply the concept of storing and managing data that is accessible anywhere at anytime. While simultaneously changing business models and the way people interact here, it is highly beneficial to developing nations as well, breaking down barriers to entry and helping entrepreneurs, small and large scale businesses, researchers, and governments. These clouds are not white, puffy, and loose. They are powerful, offering IT infrastructure at a reasonable cost. In fact, in India, cloud computing is projected to grow into a 15 billion dollar industry by next year. In India, Africa, and South America cloud computing gives organizations a way to connect through online applications like Google Docs. Developing countries can tap into cloud resources and compete, which provides many possibilities.
The possibilities of the cloud stretch to many different devices.
What I found particularly interesting is that the cloud also has its challenges, and furthermore, these challenges are very similar to problems that we have seen with many other ICT initiatives. The lack of connectivity and bandwidth capabilities in many areas of the world is a huge issue. The large data that the cloud can account for requires more bandwidth, making it something that some areas will not be able to utilize. Electricity remains unpredictable in some regions, making information on the cloud vulnerable to loss. And, as we saw with cyber security, cloud users must be aware of backup, privacy, and security issues. Developing countries must keep these things in mind. While cloud computing is a powerful tool for all, challenges for developing countries remain.
After listening to Ralph Russo discuss cyber attacks and cyber security, I was interested in seeing how Sri Lanka was involved in these movements. While there is not a lot of news offered about Sri Lanka’s policies, I did come across this interesting competition of sorts. Global CyberLympics, it is called, is “the biggest hackathon on the planet.” For hackers worldwide, this competition is driven by awareness and peace-keeping intentions and is endorsed by the UN’s Cybersecurity arm as well as countless other cybersecurity agencies. Why would there be such a competition? In order to promote awareness on ethical hacking and to help connect foreign ethical hackers, teams compete in a series of hacker games. Early rounds include “snooping, tracking attacks, and analyzing network weaknesses.” Later, teams actively hack, “capturing and then defending their piece of the network against everybody else.”
Sri Lanka, surprisingly, came in with a six-member team and made it to the finals in the end of October. According to the Global CyberLympics Twitter page, Sri Lanka ranked 8th in the world, losing to countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, Australia, and the Netherlands. They lost in the Capture the Flag skill challenge, outlined here along with the other round challenges. Ironically, Sri Lanka does well in this competition, while they struggle with ICTs in many areas.
Within the education sector, ICTs are used to access information from many different mediums. This can be accessed from computers, laptops, mobile phones, e-readers, radio, etcetera. In East Africa, a recent list of universities has been announced, ranking the best “ICT Savvy” institutions in the region. Five Kenyan universities were among those top 100 establishments. Universities in Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania were highly ranked as well.
The Top Universities:
Makerere University of Uganda
Busitema University of Uganda
School of Finance and Banking of Rwanda
African Virtual University of Kenya
University of Nairobi
Mount Kenya University
The various universities were measured based on “how universities have complied with ICT in terms of embracing technology for both students and lecturers.” Between April and October 2012, a survey was created in determining which higher education institutions made the cut regarding ICT use in teaching and enhancing education. Face-to-face questionnaires were conducted in determining these factors. The universities that best met the practices of management, development, and sustenance of university education worldwide made the list.
What is interesting to note is that these universities in East Africa are keeping up with international universities in embracing ICT facilities. Kenya, in particular, has heavily invested in ICT compared to other African universities. Hopefully this spreads to include many more universities in time to come. This is exciting news within the education sector for ICTs.
Because One Laptop Per Child, as we learned in class, does not think about the logistics of many of the places in which they are implementing their laptops, the outcome is not always successful. In Sri Lanka, the country that I am studying, OLPC has had positive and negative effects. One-to-one computing, as this article critiquing the technology discusses, has impacted certain areas in schools in Sri Lanka for many reasons. However, the article states that OLPC should extend their pilot project, focusing on poor rural areas.
Sri Lanka puts an emphasis on content development in schools and teachers and parents, often times, are very committed. For this reason, the one-to-one computing changed the way of teaching. The new technology can be a great help to teachers and the learning process. For the first time, students in one school in Sri Lanka “found Mathematics to be fun.” Unfortunately, though, the XO computers are not very robust and not quite designed correctly. There is a support team for OLPC in Sri Lanka, but schools could wait for months to get a broken laptop repaired or replaced. The absence of Internet access also poses a typical problem in schools in these areas. Teachers recommend that the OLPC program should make the content more flexible and updatable to improve teaching and learning opportunities as well.
This is a teaching session in the Palmunai OLPC School using the XO laptops in Sri Lanka.
The schools that were studied in this critique were located in rural Sri Lanka. Further studies should be done near the former war zone to see the effects there. While OLPC in Sri Lanka proves to be successful in some aspects, problems with connectivity, repairs, updates, and access seem to be continuous. Hopefully OLPC can work out these kinks so that these learning opportunities can be even better for students around the world.
Amazon’s Kindles were to be distributed in a United States project called the Kindle Mobile Learning Initiative in order to teach English around the world. However, according to this article, the 16.5 million dollar project to issue 35,000 e-readers was quietly cancelled after the state department determined that it needed to conduct more market research and re-examine its requirements. There was very little focus on exactly how the Kindles would be implemented into education programs, but this blended learning determines the success of many English language-learning programs.
The worldwide Kindle Initiative
Unwin, in Chapter 4 of ICT4D, discusses the controversy regarding m-learning. The challenge is achieving effective results within countries that are not accustomed to this kind of technology. Worldreader, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve literacy and language skills with a digital library, went through an evaluation after its projects inserted in Ghana. The USAID’s evaluation reported high breakage rates of the Kindles after the initial pilot due to the fragile screen and exposure to dust. Figuring out ways to make school attendees value the technology is another important issue, assuring that the devices do not become discarded.
As we have learned in class, it is crucial to any technology implementation to assure that the area has proper infrastructure and a want for the new devices. Unesco is currently working on policy guidelines for future m-learning proposals. This way, the benefits and challenges of m-learning are understood before implementation.
Women of West, a Microsoft organization in East and Central Africa, held an Information and Communications Technology day for girls called “DigiGirlz” this week. The group congregated in Namibia, giving high school girls from grades 8 through 12 the chance to learn about careers in technology, connecting with women industry leaders in ICT, and connecting with women within Microsoft as well. This meeting is the first of its kind in Namibia, giving young girls in Namibia the chance to understand ICT and realize their potential.
This is a girl in Malawi attending the DigiGirlz workshop. DigiGirlz holds events all over Africa trying to empower young women.
In class, we studied the gender inequality not only in the ICT sector, but also in International Development itself. Having access to ICTs is important, but being able to use it is just as important. Women are just as capable as men in participating in the ICT job opportunities. The loss of talented and skilled women in the workforce hurts the ICT industry. The formulation of government and research policy lack many potential contributors without women as part of the labor power. A woman’s perspective is missing within this industry. “Women are missing the increasing number of technology-related job opportunities and run the risk that technological developments will not be relevant to their needs,” the Microsoft Women of West leader said. “A country cannot compete in an increasingly global ICT market if half of its talented citizens are not participating.”
Over 100 girls attended the “DigiGirlz” event from over 10 schools around the area. The girls were able to meet employees of Microsoft as well as participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. Microsoft hopes that the young girls from these schools understand their full potential and realize their prospective contribution to critical information systems.