e-Library Nenasala program clinches award
Sri Lanka's e-Library Nenasala Program (eLNP) won the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation's 2014 Access to Learning award of $1 million
at a ceremony in Lyon, France recently.
Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister
Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, ICTA Chairman Professor P. W.
Epasinghe and CEO Reshan Dewapura with the award. Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation Director Deborah Jacobs looks on.
The award was in recognition of eLNP's thrust for providing free
access to computers and the internet to underserved Sri Lankans living
in remote and rural areas. The Government launched the program to boost
digital literacy and encourage economic development throughout the
country based on its national development policy - Mahinda Chinthana.
The eLNP centres, known as Nenasalas (wisdom outlets), have helped
Sri Lanka increase its computer usage and IT literacy rate from below 10
percent in 2004 to almost 40 percent today.
The centres in rural areas give residents increased access to quality
equipment, training and locally tailor-made information to help them
improve their lives.
Microsoft, a foundation partner, will donate software to eLNP as part
of its commitment to bring the benefits of information technology to
local communities around the world.
The majority of the Nenasalas are located in religious institutions,
which have served as community centres and places of learning for
This strategy has helped the Government earn the confidence and trust
of rural people, who had little access to technology. Whether housed in
a temple, kovil, mosque or church, each e-Library Nenasala is free and
open to people of all religions and income levels.
"The Government believes that free and easy access to computers and
the internet is essential to help the most vulnerable people improve
their lives. Such access to computers will make their lives more
comfortable, through education, entrepreneurship, communication and
Government services," said ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) CEO Reshan
"Having the Nenasalas in religious places that are at the heart of
every village, encourages the community to use and sustain them," he
The centres provide training to help people acquire basic computer
and internet skills and the know-how to use email and social media
platforms. Local youth often become volunteer computer trainers at the
Nenasalas and are a given basic training at the beginning of their
service. Their skills are further enhanced through refresher courses,
online training programs and peer to peer learning opportunities.