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Cross-ethnic collaboration at a Sri Lankan Telecentre – barriers for effective E-learning in rural regions
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
2012 (English)In: Herald Journal of Education and General Studies, ISSN 2350-2177, Vol. 1, no 1, 022-027 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sri Lanka has a tradition of being a multi-ethnic nation and in the post war Sri Lanka there is still a big social and economical gap between different population groups. English has been suggested as the official common language for Singalese, Tamils, Muslims and other Sri Lankan citizens. But at telecentres in rural areas the challenge today is more about how to provide content in local languages. The main research question in this article is to analyse and discuss which factors are important in the management of a telecentre in a poor non urban region with a multicultural and multilingual population. This article is based on observations, group discussions and interviews with different stakeholders at the Haldemulla telecentre and some other neighbour telecentres between 2008 and 2011. Findings show that the cross-ethnical collaboration between the Sinhalese owner, the Tamil manager and the telecentre visitors works well and is not the crucial problem. At the Haldemmulla Nenasala telecentre the prime problems are more about the current lack of Internet access and how to keep the best employees when the salaries are far below the standard income for staff in the urban ICT industry. However the Nenasala telecentre in Haldemmulla has found a model that seems to be sustainable and with or without Internet access they have their regular visitors and provide appreciated services to the local community. This telecentre has since its inauguration been one of the best performing in the island-wide Sri Lankan Nenasala network. But the rate off regular visitors has decreased when we compare with the situation at our first visit in 2008. Since teachers as well as teaching sessions have improved we find the lack of Internet access to be the factor that has had an impact on the number of monthly visitors. Internet is today an important source for information in poor rural areas as well as in richer metropolitan regions. Another challenge for a multicultural telecentre is how to provide high quality digital content in the various local languages.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 1, no 1, 022-027 p.
Keyword [en]
ICT4D, Telecentres, Technology enhanced learning, Nenasala, Tamil, Singalese, Ethnicity, Sri Lanka
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82222OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-82222DiVA: diva2:567199
Available from: 2012-11-12 Created: 2012-11-12 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Education for All in Sri Lanka: ICT4D Hubs for Region-Wide Dissemination of Blended Learning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Education for All in Sri Lanka: ICT4D Hubs for Region-Wide Dissemination of Blended Learning
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

ICT4D, here defined as the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in developing regions, can be seen as one of the most powerful and cost efficient ways to improve the standard of living in the developing world. Many regions in Asia have shown a rapid but heterogeneous development where information technology had a drastic impact on development but often with the problems related to ICT4D 1.0: lack of sustainability and lack of scalability.

This study analysed the Sri Lankan infrastructure for region-wide dissemination of blended learning in the 21st century based on the exploration of some selected ICT4D hubs and educational initiatives. The overall aim of the research was to observe, describe and analyse how the selected ICT4D initiatives and the creation of ICT4D hubs in Sri Lanka might support region-wide dissemination of blended learning and local development. A longitudinal case study has been the overall approach where a number of embedded thematic units were explored in long-term fieldwork conducted between 2006 and 2012. Data has been collected from a combination of observations, interviews, group discussions, surveys and document analysis.

Findings showed that several of the studied ICT4D hubs have contributed to the general development but the country’s internal digital divide has in fact grown, as urban growth has been so much faster than the growth in rural areas, leaving the country with geographic as well as socio-economic gaps. Some of the former war zones have definitely been left behind and there is a need for further support of the Eastern and Northern regions of the island. Sri Lanka has had an outcome that must be classified as better than average compared to other developing regions with increased opportunities for education and with some ICT4D hubs as multipurpose meeting points. Contributing factors to the successful development are the high literacy rate, the chain of ICT4D projects rolled out in the right order and a committed implementation of educational eServices. On the other hand there were other, more negative findings indicating that sustainability, knowledge sharing and inter-project cooperation and coordination have often failed.

The identified strength in the Sri Lankan model, which can be recommended for other parts of the world as well, is the way top-down management of infrastructure sometimes is combined with bottom-up grass-root activities. Other recommendations, that also are global, are to extend existing ICT4D hubs and upgrade them to more intelligent, autonomous and multi-service ICT4D routers that could also handle the future need for eServices in the fields of eHealth, eFarming and eGovernance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, 2014. 120 p.
Series
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 14-017
Keyword
ICT4D, ICT4D hubs, Digital divide, Sri Lanka, Blended learning, Education for All
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-109061 (URN)978-91-7649-042-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-12-11, Lilla hörsalen, NOD-huset, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-11-19 Created: 2014-11-10 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved

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