Unlimited possibilities for Sevanagala with Microsoft’s Gamata IT

Unlimited possibilities for Sevanagala with Microsoft’s Gamata IT

March 21, 2010   12:25 am


Over 400 primary school kids introduced to technology in their own classrooms, the youth of an entire province empowered with the ability to broaden their horizons and take their lives beyond the limits of their villages, parents who can now provide their children with the promise of a brighter future through the use of technology, businesses that will now benefit from innovations that were thus far out of their grasp and an entire community that can now access the latest technology on offer right at their local Nanasala – these are the possibilities the village of Sevanagala in the District of Monaragala possesses, in the wake of the third town storming session of the Microsoft Gamata IT campaign.


Taking technology to every part of Sri Lanka has been the cornerstone of Microsoft Sri Lanka’s five year history. The largest and the most recent of the many diverse projects initiated in this regard is the Gamata IT concept, which covers a broad spectrum of elements ensuring that the initiative is not simply a one day event that is forgotten when the Microsoft team returns to Colombo, but an event that will spark a lifetime of development and a brighter future for the entire community.


Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Chief Minister of the Uva Provincial Council and Private Secretary to his Excellency the President and Jagath Pushpakumara, Minister of Nation Building were the guests of honor at the third leg of the Microsoft Gamata IT townstorming campaign held in Sevanagala recently.


The town storming campaign on the day of the event in Sevanagala saw a number of innovative and interesting factors come into play. Aside from the MultiPoint enabled class room at the Kiriibbanwewa Kanitu Vidyalaya, a celebration was held at the Sevanagala Nenasala Centre for visitors along with the awarding of certificates to over a hundred Government agents recently trained in the use of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office. The event was the platform to introduce Sinhala Language Interface Pack (LIP) for Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007, which allows users to operate a computer in Sinhala. Microsoft distributed free copies of LIP software among students, youth, and government officials in the area, enabling them to carry out their day-to-day work using a computer in their more familiar local language.


The Singer ‘Knowledge Bus’, a popular attraction of the Gamata IT event was also active in the area on the day of the event, running a quiz for youth as well as children in the area, sparkling their interest to explore IT. The bus provided the children of the village the chance to explore and experience interesting as well as unlimited learning opportunities using a computer.


Speaking on the event Chief Minister Shasheendra Rajapaksa thanked Microsoft Sri Lanka for their continued efforts to take technology to the rural communities. “The use of technology was, for a very long period of time a distant idea to us. This initiative from Microsoft in collaboration with ICTA and Nenasala would no doubt open new vistas to the future generation in the Uva Province. Our community has also benefited through the training of Government agents and teachers who will pass on their training to generations of residents, again, helping our community grow. With the entire nation on the road to development, it is important that technology is used in every possible way to speed the development of our country. Thanks to initiatives like the Microsoft Gamata IT campaign, rural communities too can now contribute to the development of the economy and the country”.


Another important factor of the Gamata IT programme is the upgrading of all computers at Sevanagala Nenasala and the donation of Genuine Microsoft software along with the Sinhala Language Interface Packs for each machine. Sevanagala Nenasala Centre, which acts as the epicenter of the Gamata IT activities received the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Curriculum developed in Sinhala allowing the youth to follow IT courses in Sinhala, a definite step towards higher employability, a multitude of opportunities and a stepping-stone to enter the world of IT.


The funds to start and sustain a local IT Club have also been provided as part of this initiative, to gain the interest of the youth of the area and to get them involved in the use of technology for learning. The club was launched as part of the campaign amid a huge level of interest among the youth of the area.


Speaking on the success of the Sevanagala leg of the Gamata IT initiative, Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka said that the contribution of technology to development was a factor that could not be ignored. “The speed of development can be doubled through the use of technology, in the last month we have already seen a steady rise in the Sevanagala area and its surrounding villages. Building on the vast potential that was identified through the year of English and IT, further development of IT infrastructure in rural communities will bring about changes that we have not yet even conceived. The power of technology to change lives and broaden horizons has never before been more prominent. The focus of the Gamata IT campaign is to provide the necessary technology for the development of these communities that have thus far not had the advantage of technology. We will continue to work toward providing technology and all the benefits it brings to communities throughout Sri Lanka”.


One month on, the residents of Sevanagala are beginning to see a difference in the lives and interest levels of those who participated in the campaign and benefited from it. The IT club formed by the Sevanagala youth, initiated at the Nanesala centre is also seeing a high degree of success with over twenty new members to date. It is indeed rewarding to note that the IT Club is taking great strides on their own by setting up a website using Live group and Live Spaces to connect among its members. The enthusiasm sparked through the initial step was clearly evident at the elegant website launch event held recently at the Sevanagala Divisional Secretariat amidst local government officials and members. The youth of the area are now more interested and aware of the possibilities available to them through the use of technology and have taken a higher degree of interest in broadening their horizons. The club has seen numbers grow in the last month and is planning various activities to further the members’ knowledge on technology and the opportunities derived from it.


The children of the Kiriibbanwewa Kanitu Vidyalaya, where the MultiPoint enabled classroom was set up are now eager for the computing period and look forward to the use of the system on a daily basis. The teachers of the school have increased the incorporation of technology to their curriculum and are enhancing their student’s involvement in the education process - creating an unprecedented level of interest and proactive learning motivation.


Photo caption: The students of the Kiriibbanwewa Kanitu Vidyalaya, where the Multipoint system was installed, in the presence of the Microsoft team and invited school and government dignitaries.

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