Tripartite effort to promote mobile learning among rural women

Friday, 8 March 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The National Mobile Service Provider, Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel initiated a program together with the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) and sponsored by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), to promote mobile learning among rural women in farming communities at an event held at the OUSL today.

Mobitel Customer Care SGM Jean Fernandez exchanges the agreement with OUSL Vice Chancellor Dr. Vijitha Nanayakkara, while Senior Minister for Scientific Affairs Prof. Tissa Vitarana, COL Consultant Emeritus Prof. Uma Coomaraswamy and University of Jaffna Faculty of Agriculture Dean Prof. G. Mikunthan look on

This program 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 Senior Minister for Scientific Affairs Prof. Tissa Vitarana, as the Chief Guest and OUSL Vice Chancellor Dr. Vijitha Nanayakkara as guests of honour, COL Consultant Emeritus Prof. Uma Coomaraswamy, University of Jaffna Faculty of Agriculture Dean Prof. G. Mikunthan and Mobitel Customer Care Senior General Manager Jean Fernandez.

The first phase of this project will involve 550 women from two rural farming communities. From Jaffna 300 women have being selected, while 250 have been selected from Hambantota. This project will focus on; ‘financial services and management’ aimed at improving financial literacy among the 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 Jean Fernandez said: “Mobitel, as the National Mobile Service provider and a substantial contributor to the GSMA women program, has embarked on yet another initiative to further enhance mobile phone ownership amongst women in Sri Lanka.

Through this program, 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 teach them a brand new concept, a method which they would otherwise not have available to them via their mobile phone.”

She also said, “Projects such as this, emulate our brand promise We Care. Always. quite strongly and we are extremely committed towards educating these women and making such resources more widely available and accessible.”

The newly launched project is a follow-on program 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 the 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 event, Prof. Vitarana said: “It is a great honour and pleasure to be a part of this program. With this program, not only women in particular will be empowered, but villages throughout our country. 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.”

He added, “Following this premise the Government introduced the ‘Divi Naguma’ program 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 OUSL along with the COL with Mobitel enhancing all communities by the transference of knowledge that will in turn solve problems faced by women and farmers in rural Sri Lanka.”

COL Vancouver Canada Consultant Uma Coomaraswamy in her address stated: “The project launched today, sponsored by COL as a part of strengthening their global project ‘lifelong learning for farmers (L3F)’ is 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. Nanayakkara 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 revolutionised 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. Project coordinator Malinda Kumarasinha 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.