The project will set up two Digital Learning Centres with the ultimate objective of assisting students from rural areas to be competitive in the job market when they leave school. To this end, the project will create an environment for students to learn and improve skills in use of computers and computer programs to develop skills in mathematics, and to motivate them to learn by providing required IT hardware, software, training and reference material.
We have successfully completed the first phase of our digital maths lab installation, which serves the Ambalangoda zonal region of Sri Lanka and comprises computers, printers and a projector, as well as desks and chairs.
The learning centers will serve students studying in Year 6 – 11, and will benefit not only the 2 schools where the project is located, but at least 100 other smaller schools in their school zone, and thus will serve approximately 6,000 students per year. The visiting schools will utilise the centres on a scheduled program which will be coordinated by the respective Regional Office of the Ministry of Education. The project locations were identified in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
Opportunities for acquiring skills in information technology are considerably low in rural areas of Sri Lanka. Very few schools are equipped with computers and training facilities, with majority of these schools being located in and around urban areas. According to the most recent official sources (Department of Census and Statistics of Sri Lanka, 2007), while 17.8% of the urban households own a personal computer, only 6.9% of rural households own a computer. These have resulted in an identifiable digital divide between the urban and rural sectors which is reflected in the ratio of Computer Literacy (ability to use a computer to perform a task) which is 25.1% in urban areas and 15.1% in rural areas. As a result, school leavers from rural areas are less competitive in the job market compared to those from urban areas.
The project will be implemented in partnership with a leading private IT company, namely Virtusa Corporation, who will provide part of the computer hardware for the project. In addition to the computer hardware, Virtusa will, at their cost, offer staff time to provide preliminary training for new teachers on the use of the hardware and software, and set up a data network.
The project will be implemented over a period of 9-12 months, and will be monitored by the host club for a further period of 12 months after commissioning.