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ICTA in the forefront to make Sri Lanka a digitally inclusive nation

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Digital literacy 43% at present

BY SURESH PERERA

In keeping with the President’s vision, the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka has launched multiple initiatives to make Sri Lanka a digitally inclusive country.

As the apex ICT institution of the Government, the ICTA has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to Information and Computer Technology.

“We are looking at a rapid positive change in digital transformation without waiting for the next 10 to 15 years to create a technology based society”, says a senior ICTA official.

It is to accelerate the digital transformation process and achieve the objective of a digitally inclusive Sri Lanka that the ICTA’s intervention is necessary, he stressed.

“We should make digital technology normal for everybody just like, for example, electricity which was a privilege at one point, but is now general purpose for the citizenry. Our target is to make digital technology general purpose for the consumption of everybody by 2024”, he noted.

He said that targets need to be accelerated to make the whole population or at least 75% of it digitally literate. At present, digital literacy stands at 43%. Computer literacy doesn’t mean learning how to switch on and off a computer. It goes beyond the basics and extends to the effective use of digital technology to surf the web, access online fora or use social media for communication purposes.

A farmer should be able to use Whatsapp or any such freeware or cross-platform for consultations on matters regarding his crops. Not everybody who uses a mobile phone is digitally literate. The concept of digital technology should be an integral part of day-to-day life of the citizenry, the official outlined.

He said the ICTA is working in collaboration with government institutions, industry stakeholders, NGOs and INGOs to achieve dedicated targets to make Sri Lanka digitally inclusive. In a technology based society, everybody should be able to consume something.

It’s an enormous challenge, he underlined. “We need to push ahead with our 900 plus initiatives to make the digital transformation in Sri Lanka happen at a swift pace”.

There is a significant digital transformation of government institutions which have become citizen- friendly and citizen-centric as a result. The ICTA facilitates the task of building sustainable capacity and improving processes to achieve set objectives, the official continued.

The ICTA has rolled out a dedicated government learning platform free of charge to state institutions for educational purposes, he said.

“We are also working on meeting the demand for ICT professionals in the country. The gap has to be bridged by producing sufficient ICT professionals to meet the growing demand”, he emphasized.

He said that ICT across the board encompasses schools, government, vocational and higher education. There is also key focus on enhancing and promoting smart education.

Another focal point is on using digit technology effectively for mass education in a post-Covid situation, he further said.

“We also support professional education”, he added.

Technology adoption is another key area as just as much as capacity building is imperative, trust and confidence should go hand in hand. People should have the competence and the trust to use it, he said.

The 21st century is knowledge-centric. True competitiveness lies in how well technology is integrated into every economic sector, be it agriculture, industry, service or else. It is imperative that Sri Lanka invests strategically in this century’s new innovative technologies, integrate such innovations into our education systems and incorporate innovative measures to our economic framework. The quality of life of people should be enhanced by creating a culture of Technological Innovation.

 

 



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Southern MP warns that Russian & Ukranian tourists working here are at risk

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“They may be knifed or their lives threatened”

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourists from Russia and Ukraine who are staying in houses in Sri Lanka for long periods are engaging in business activities and should be taxed to prevent them being knifed by competitors, SLPP MP Chandima Weerakkody told parliament on Friday.

“There are many tourists who are staying long term in houses,” he said. “Though they come here they cannot use their credit cards – especially Russian and Ukrainian tourists who cannot use their money through their cards. As a result they have been forced to work and earn something in Sri Lanka.”

He called on the government to have a system where they can use their money.

“In our areas many tourists are cutting hair, some are doing tinkering work, some are setting up pizza shops, some are selling cannabis – I think there is a new name now *for ganja),” Weerakkody said. “If we send the immigration behind the tourists who are coming, even those that are coming will not come.”

“No taxes are being charged from any of these tourists who are doing business. Our (local people’s) taxes are raised. I am asking at least to have a system for the government to collect some taxes

“I want to say in Parliament that in our areas, a knifing (pihi anumak), or some other threat to life (jeewitha tharjanayak) may happen if this situation continues.”

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Kidney sale racket unearthed in Colombo

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Five duped to sell their kidneys at Rs. 15 million each

By Norman Palihawadane

The Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) has informed the Colombo Additional Magistrate Ranjindra Jayasuriya that an investigation has been launched to arrest the suspects involved in the organized racket of obtaining kidneys from poor people promising big money and selling them to local and foreign people.The CCD told the court on Thursday that four men and one woman have parted with their kidneys, and despite promising to pay Rs.15 million per kidney nothing was paid.

CCD reported to court that the victims were operated at a Hospital on Cotta Road in Borella and no money was paid. A mother who was nursing a one-and-a-half-year-old infant was among those cheated.

The police told court that a person from the Bloemendhal area had referred these people through another man and a woman. Required medical tests had been conducted at three private hospitals.

Evidence has been obtained that kidney surgeries had been performed at a private hospital in Borella and the CCD stated in court that this racket was organized targeting poor families in Colombo.

It informed court that they have already launched investigations and will arrest the suspects and produce them before court.After considering the relevant submissions, the Magistrate ordered the CCD to conduct investigations and arrest the suspects and present them to court.

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Record highest number of school students visit Parliament

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School children wave during their visit to Parliament on Thursday (1). Serjeant-at Arms Narendra Fernando said that the largest number of school students in the history of the Parliament visited the Parliament on Dec 1. Over 5,000 students from 32 schools from different provinces visited the Parliament on that day, he said. More than 25,000 students representing schools in different parts of the country had visited to observe the Parliamentary debates after the Public Gallery was reopened for school students from Sept 19.

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