“Girls in ICT” for North Western Province was held on 6th October 2016, from 8.30am to 1.30pm at Holy Family Convent Kurunegala. Representing the province, 40 students from 7 schools who are studying ICT for their GCE Advanced Level and 7 teachers who oversee the ICT stream in those schools participated. The event was organised by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) in calloboration with the ICT Branch of the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Provincial Education Department (PED) and Mobitel (Pvt) Ltd.
Mrs. Tharalika Livera, Deputy Director of TRCSL commenced the program with a brief introduction of “Girls in ICT” programme. Afterwards, Mr.W.A.M.K. Abesinghe, ICT Teacher Councilor from PED, Ms. Nalika Gunathilake, Assistant Director of ICT from PED and Sister Trisilda Fernando, Principal informed the students and teachers who were present about the importance of hosting such events. An escalation of the woman’s role in ICT is still outdated due to stereotypical old concepts like ICT is not an appropriate field for women, they are jobs for men. Furthermore, the reluctance of school girls to learn computer science in school or the fact that there are lesser female role models in the field are more reasons for girls not to pursue a career in ICT. Mrs. Livera further encouraged the students to not to abide by the social myths that ICT is a hard, boring and highly technical field for women and to change their attitudes and expand their horizons so that they can be just as successful as men or possibly even more, in this sector.
Afterwards, Engineer Ms. Jeewani Fernando and Engineer Ms. Dinushi Kumarapeli (resourse persons from Mobitel) asked the students to discuss about how they used ICT in their day to day life and its pros and cons while giving their opinions under 4 main topics. First one was, the reason for choosing ICT as a subject and barriers caused by the subject at school and how they found solutions to it. Secondly, how useful ICT was when it came to helping family members and friends. Thirdly, how you developed your creative potential through ICT and fourthly, how to promote the connection between women and the social networks in the future. These points were discussed exhaustively.
Then came the practical part of the program where the students were given a brief introduction to an online free application called “Scratch” which was designed by MIT Media Lab. After that, all the girls were divided into four groups and given a laptop for each group and helped them design a cartoon and a dancer. However, it did not end there, the girls could further develop their project during the course of three months with our assistance and eventually upload it to this “Girls in ICT” web portal especially created as a platform for them to showcase their work.
While Mobitel presented the participants with souvenirs, TRCSL gifted the students and teachers a Flash Drive. A token of appreciation was awarded by TRCSL to resource persons, teachers and students for their participation, and certificates were awarded for all the students, teachers for taking their time to be present and fully cooperating to make the event successful.