Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Digital Citizens with ‘IT Yahamaga’ Program

‘Lanka cannot miss opportunity to be part of digital era – Prof. Gihan Dias
Sarvodya–Fusion Steers Future Generation to Be Responsible Digital Citizens with ‘IT Yahamaga’ Program

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 01:00

In a bid to help school children gain digital literacy through responsible handling of internet and social media, Sarvodaya-Fusion launched another step of the program ‘IT Yahamaga’ recently to educate school principals, vice principals, sectional heads and student counselors. IT Yahamaga is a comprehensive program to educate and create a positive influence a cross a section of society including children, teachers and parents, to help the future generation become responsible digital citizens. Sarvodaya-Fusion has been working on ICT for development (ICT4D) initiatives since 2007, providing digital literacy, digital access and digital benefits to semi urban and rural communities. IT Yahamaga has been designed as an interactive program to create awareness among different community groups with special focus on school children in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Sri Lanka. Over 150 educators representing 65 schools took part in the recent programme held in Kurunegala.

“The wider Sri Lankan society, especially in rural areas, has a negative perspective about internet usage and social media. This has led most schools and even parents to prohibit children from using the internet and engaging in social media interaction, depriving them of valuable learning opportunities. However, the new world requires digitally savvy, engaged citizens. It is up to the government, tech companies and community service organizations to mitigate any adverse impact and raise awareness of the wise usage of digital tools. We’ve been successfully playing a key role in changing perspectives since we started the IT Yahamaga program in 2015,” commented General Manager of Sarvodaya-Fusion, Maithree Malwattegoda.

With the rapid expansion of technological tools and apps, communities need to learn to use IT for the right reasons and become responsible digital citizens. IT Yahamaga works towards educating the audience on how to be safe in this digital age and sources to seek help and support.

“We are privileged to partner with Sarvodaya-Fusion for this initiative and in educating students on the benefits of the internet and social media for their educational and life needs to over 20,000 students over the years. We are glad to support both teachers and parents and on the need to play a vital role in empowering the younger generation to make use of technological advancements in a responsible manner. We also plan to initiate a program especially targeting females under a theme ‘hithawathi,’ to support them on issues they face when on the internet. As a nation, we cannot afford to pass up the opportunity to become part of the digital era and become change agents of the future. We need to be on par with global trends in a conscious and visionary manner,” added Director/ Chief Executive Officer of LK Domain Registry Prof. Gihan Dias.

The partnership with the Ministry of Education has enabled Sarvodaya-Fusion to reach over 40,000 school children since 2015 and nearly 1,000 school teachers.

Director of Education (ICT) from the Ministry of Education, P. N. Illepperuma said, “Information Technology has become extremely vital in all aspects of our lives and across all sectors. Many obstacles are faced if the basic understanding and knowledge is not given and for this reason, an important mandate of the government is to invest in improving Information Technology, especially at secondary education level in schools. Currently, we have over 150,000 computers in schools and under the ‘Smart Classroom’ initiative, we encourage schools and school teachers to include Information Technology into various subjects. According to the Census Department statistics, our digital literacy rates are high and a high percentage of it represents our school children. Therefore, the school is the best place to guide and educate these children and it should be done by Principals and Teachers. We have already taken steps to educate and train teachers and children on the accurate use of Information Technology and we are pleased to partner with LK Domain Registry and Sarvodaya-Fusion on this initiative.”

The Ministry of Education has introduced ICT as a subject from grade six, providing access to the digital world to almost all schools in the country. A large number of schools are equipped with computers as well as internet facilities. The next step would be to help teachers and parents to understand the benefits of ICT and their role to help the future generation to become responsible digital citizens.