For the last six months, GFF Representative in Sri Lanka, Tharaka Munidasa, has been identifying new opportunities for GFF in this brand new location for the HELPS programme. One of the areas of need he identified was the lack of resources at a local SANASA Campus to train local youth in information technology (IT) – a much sought after skill in this region.
Initially, the SANASA Campus IT lab did not have enough resources to support the increasing number of students (student registration has increased by 100% since last year) and community members. Students are forced to share devices or watch from the side which limits their potential to learn. The course content was outdated and not being taught effectively. Therefore, students and community members were unable to reach their full potential due to the lack of teaching and resources. With IT knowledge being regarded as one of the most important skills of the 21st century and Sri Lanka developing at a rapid rate, everyone must be prepared to adapt to the upcoming digital transformation of the industry.
The Glenn Family Foundation is proud to support the official opening of the Information Technology Department at SANASA Campus. The ‘IT Development Project’ plan had the initial vision to develop a functional IT lab that could cater to a full classroom size of students. However, after presenting to the staff that SANASA Campus needed to build their IT culture as student demand was increasing, the vision was modified to establishing the Information Technology Department as a separate entity to accelerate meaningful digital transformation.
Tharaka Munidasa, along with Lahiru Subasinghe (IT Lecturer), Ishan Jayatilaka and Gihan Chandrathilake (External Industry Consultants) collaborated to bring this department to life! To build sustainability in this project, a Hardware Leadership group was formed. This consisted of 10 students that will ensure all IT assets are maintained on a scheduled basis. Once this group was established, there was increased student demand for an IT club; the student leaders will run this club to promote the importance of IT skills to students who had little knowledge but enough curiosity to join. With the support of students, Tharaka and his team were able to carry out the following improvements:
- Identify and collect all unused IT equipment
- Service all computers
- Rebuild 15 CPU’s (more to come)
- Install 10 brand new computers
- Replace 20 monitors
- Rebuild a Projector
- Develop a wiring diagram
- Ensure the lab is properly earthed
- Refurbish the whole lab and surrounding area
- Develop a network diagram and connect every computer
- Establish an effective asset management system
- Establish an extended networking plan to connect all buildings at SANASA Campus
The Information Technology Department is now fully operational with a total of 25 computers, projector and printer in one room and a hardware workshop in the other. See this dramatic transformation below:
The future plan for this department now has the full support of the Zonal (Kegalle) and Provincial (Sabaragamuwa) Directors of Education to develop and promote course content to build an IT degree programme, diploma, and certificate courses for over 1200 primary and secondary schools and the wider rural community. This department will provide a platform for tens of thousands of people in need to develop digital literacy.
Tharaka was brave to stay behind to finish his project in spite of the recent Easter bombings in Sri Lanka. This effort demonstrates that the GFF HELPS programme will not be affected by terror attacks and will continue to uplift communities. We thank Tharaka for his outstanding courage, leadership and drive in bringing this project to completion despite challenging circumstances, and leaving at his departure, a sustainable programme that will go on create better opportunities local youth.