Tuesday, 05 March 2013, Colombo: The National Mobile Service Provider, Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel initiated a programme with the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) to promote mobile learning among rural women in farming communities at an event held at the Open University of Sri Lanka today. The project is sponsored by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). This programme focuses on mobile learning methods aimed at facilitating women in farming communities uplift the quality of life of themselves and their families. The event was graced by Hon. Prof. Tissa Vitarana, Minister (Senior) for Scientific Affairs, as Chief Guest and guests of honour Dr. Vijitha Nanayakkara, Vice Chancellor, OUSL; Emeritus Prof. Uma Coomaraswamy, Consultant, COL; Prof. G. Mikunthan, Dean - Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jaffna, Ms. Jean Fernandez, Senior General Manager - Customer Care, Mobitel.
The first phase of this project will involve 550 women from two rural farming communities. Three-hundred women have been selected from Jaffna, while 250 have been selected from Hambantota. This project will focus on: ‘financial services and management’ aimed at improving financial literacy among these rural women.
Lessons will be disseminated through an Interactive Voice Response System and mobile technology. Each weekly module will include five lessons and an assessment.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, Mobitel’s Senior General Manager - Customer Care, Ms. Jean Fernandez said “Mobitel, as the National Mobile Service Provider and a substantial contributor to the GSMA women programme, has embarked on yet another initiative to further enhance mobile phone ownership amongst women in Sri Lanka. Through this programme, not only will we educate women in rural farming communities on crucial subjects necessary to uplift the Quality of Life but will also help empower them and add value to their daily work.Through this project, we will bring learning to them via a brand new concept, which is via their mobile phone – a method which they would otherwise not have available to them. Projects such as this emulate our brand promise of ‘We Care. Always.’ quite strongly and we are extremely committed towards educating these women and making such resources more widely available and accessible to them.”
This newly launched project is a follow-on programme from the Liyasara project which was launched by Mobitel last year. Liyasara focuses on various projects to keep women informed, motivated and inspired via the use of mobile phones and is aimed at helping to empower their lives and add value to their daily engagements.
Mobitel, has continuously been committed to honouring and paying tribute to women of Sri Lanka, whose contributions towards their families and society have not gone unobserved. As the National Mobile Service Provider, Mobitel hopes that with this newly launched project, women would have wider access to a range of knowledge bases, thus assisting towards educating and uplifting their lives.
Addressing the gathering at the launch event, Senior Minister for Scientific Affairs - Hon. Prof. Tissa Vitarana said, “It is a great honour and pleasure to be a part of this programme, I feel so strongly about making it a success. With this programme, not only women in particular will be empowered, but villages throughout our country as well. The government policy for development has changed from what it was many years ago. Today the Government’s policy is to develop both the rural and the urban sectors simultaneously to create a harmonious development which will sustain our national culture, family values and the morals of our society. Following this premise the Government introduced the Divi Naguma programme to increase the livelihood and earning capacity of the people of rural communities. I believe, the rural population must be imparted with pertinent knowledge that can be harnessed to achieve meaningful economic development in the villages. The initiative taken by the Open University along with the Commonwealth of Learning and Mobitel will enhance all communities by the transference of knowledge that will in turn solve problems faced by women and farmers in rural Sri Lanka.”
Uma Coomaraswamy, Emeritus Professor of the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) and Consultant, Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Vancouver, Canada, in her address stated that "This project which is being launched today is sponsored by COL as a part of strengthening their global Project "Lifelong learning for Farmers (L3F)" initiated in several commonwealth countries. The L3F Project in Sri Lanka is University-based and is implemented in three universities: Colombo, Ruhuna and the Open University of Sri Lanka. It is a partnership project with COL, information and knowledge providers, ICT providers, the farming community and banks. Its vision is to improve the prosperity of farming communities through technology mediated, farmer-centric and self-directed learning with the aim of making the farming communities' quality of life better, economically viable and help them to become professionals in their line of work." She further stated that COL is pleased to sponsor this project in partnership with Mobitel and OUSL.
Addressing the gathering at the event, Dr.Vijitha Nanayakkara, Vice-Chancellor of the Open University of Sri Lanka commented, “Working with Mobitel and the Commonwealth of Learning has been such a pleasure for us all. It is already evident how mobile communication has revolutionized the way humans learn and interact. Being able to partner this initiative with the National Mobile Service Provider is only going to open new vistas of opportunities to the women and people of the rural communities who contribute towards taking Sri Lanka to its next growth level. The implementation of this project will help us to strengthen our offering to the women that need it most, giving them more opportunities for their personal betterment.”
OUSL is the implementing body of the project. Mr.Malinda Kumarasinha, the coordinator of the project in his concluding speech, briefed the steady progress made on the project in the two districts, Jaffna and Hambanthota. He also gave special appreciation to Mobitel and the Commonwealth of Learning for their commitment towards the project.
L-R: Ms. Jean Fernandez, SGM - Customer Care, Mobitel exchanges the agreement with Dr. Vijitha Nanayakkara, Vice Chancellor, OUSL. Hon. Prof. Tissa Vitarana, Minister (Senior) for Scientific Affairs, Emeritus Prof. Uma Coomaraswamy, Consultant, COL and Prof. G. Mikunthan, Dean - Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jaffna look on.