COLOMBO: At a time when top-most priority is being attached by the State as well knowledgeable circles to the expansion of IT literacy in this country, it is heartening to learn that a new building, replete with State-of-the-Art technology, for the purpose of furthering studies in ITC, is being constructed at the Sabaragamuwa University at the cost of millions.
This measure would certainly be a fillip to the development of ITC research, since it is felt that besides a general insufficiency of IT literacy among the public, we also lack sufficient top level ITC professionals who could enhance our growth as an ITC literate country.
As some authorities have pointed out, India is soaring ahead in economic growth, as a result of its burgeoning ITC industry. This phenomenal advance in IT knowledge and technology has contributed towards making India a major economic power.
In fact, India has emerged a number one outsourcing centre for the global IT industry, on account of the outstanding stature it has achieved as a major IT Research and Development source.
Compared to India, we have still a long way to go even as a software developer. This is the considered opinion of some IT authorities.
Even on the question of the public’s general competency in IT related matters, we are far behind many Middle Income Countries, which are emerging as major economic powers.
Whereas the asking rate for the production of IT professionals in this country is 2000 yearly, we bring out only some 1000 of them per year. This alone is a measure of how much wanting the country is in relation to the development of ICT.
Accordingly, moves by the State to increasingly empower our seats of higher learning to step-up up ICT Research and Development should be welcomed and we hope more such measures would be consistently forthcoming.
Generally speaking, we need to aim at increasing drastically the ICT literacy and competence of the public. Many more families and homes need computers besides the steady equipping of all sections of the public sector with such technology.
It is not realised enough that ICT is an effective empowerment avenue, whether at the individual level or at the collective level.
For the individual, computers facilitate the acquiring of knowledge, including economic data, which is a major factor in the physical survival of individuals and families.
For the younger generation and students, this means a vaster knowledge bank and the opening of numerous windows to the wider world and even beyond.
For neighbourhoods, groups and collectivities, access to ICT could spell easier acquiring of State services and amenities. It could also help in decentralizing the acquiring of such services.
For example, local government institutions could facilitate the issuing of passports, birth certificates etc.
From this point of view, the Ministry of Science and Technology’s ‘Nenasala’ project should be lauded. It could help greatly in enhancing the public’s IT literacy and serve as an abundant empowerment measure.