Never mind that the Chief Operating Officer of ICTA Reshan Dewapura and our President don’t see eye to eye when it comes to IT literacy rates in Sri Lanka. For the President, our IT literacy rate is 23%, whereas for Reshan it’s 16%. IT literacy as some have pointed out is a politically dependent variable.
The President has declared 2009 as the year of English and Information Technology. This is a good thing, since many in his own administration stand to benefit immensely from the emphasis on developing competancies for good governance. I was interested to note that the President says,
English, on the other hand, will be our language to reach out to the world and access the global pool of knowledge and technology. As the national initiative on English gathers momentum and achieves desired results, I visualise in fact a trilingual Sri Lankan society in the long run. My policy framework, ‘Mahinda Chintana’, clearly lays down our policy on language. The inalienable link between language and culture is recognised and respected. To the people of my country, Sinhala and Tamil are not mere tools of communication. They encapsulate our values and world-views, give expression to our inner feelings and define our cultural categories. They embody the soul of our people. They confer to us our distinct identity. (Emphasis mine)
This is a very good basis of appreciating the pronouncement from Gen Sarath Fonseka that Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese.
But back on to ICT and the video, of the millions that must have been spent producing this ostensibly to promote ICTA and its work, I’m not entirely convinced that it was the best use of resources? The video for example doesn’t feature at all real footage of real ICT use. Images of children listening to iPods is great optics, but far removed from reality. What about the superb work and thought leadership of Horizon Lanka Foundation and its work in Mahavilachchiya? Are there not visuals here of real strides in the adoption of ICT by rural communities not worth highlighting?
I don’t find the video particularly appealing or meaningful, but it may be addressing a different target group. What is tragically ironic however is the cover in which ICTA chooses to distribute the DVD and another CD soundtrack, has gems like the following:
“…Enabling each Lanka proudly raise his head like a ship’s strong mast
For the gamut of knowledge overflowing in the world through vast
Will be at finger-tips of the man ‘e-Sri Lanka’ will recast”
I have no idea what the devil this means. Perhaps ICTA’s aim here was to suggest that the programmes it promotes nationally are those that are most needed first within its own offices?