“Advancement of Technology has contributed to the upliftment of human life in many ways” is a widely agreed upon statement. However, there’s also another side to this story. Now a days, we hear more and more stories about how people, especially youth groups go astray through misuse of technology. These incidents have accelerated to a certain point where most of the parents, especially in the grassroots settings have started to show an aversion towards exposing their children to advanced Technologies.
“IT Yahamaga” is an initiative of Fusion Education (FE) to counter this growing issue. Through this program, we seek to educate grassroots students and IT Teachers about; if used properly, how technology can change our lives and the society we live in for the better. The campaign contains; discussions with the students about incidents where technology has been used as a medium in criminal activities, resulted in social unrest and contributed to social issues such as growing teenage suicides etc. and showcasing of a wide range of success stories where technology, especially social media has been used to bring about positive change in the society as well as personal growth.
The program is funded by Samaja Sathkara Foundation. In addition, Mr. Danesh Maduranga Edirisooriya, the Founder and Managing Director of the Foundation contributes to the program as the main resource person.
With the assistance of FE District Coordinators, IT Yahamaga workshops are planned to be held across the 22 districts Fusion Education operates.
The pilot program was held in Kuliyapitiya, Kurunegala District on the 7th July 2015. The workshops were conducted in 3 National Schools; Kuliyapitiya Bibiladeniya Gunananda Central College, Kuliyapitiya J.R. Jayawardena Central College-Dummalasooriya and Kuliyapititya Dhammananda Maha Vidyalaya with the participation of 300 students (Age group 16 – 18 yrs) and IT Teachers and Principals of the respective Schools.
As an encouragement to actively explore ICT Education options for the future benefit, all 300 students who took part in the workshops were granted full scholarships by Fusion Education to follow “Get Connected” program (An entry level ICT Course) of CISCO Networking Academy. The Course will be conducted at Udubeddawa Nisala Nenasala Telecentre by Fusion Education Kurunegala District Coordinator and Manager of Nisala Nenasala, Mr. Santhusha Jayatilake.
For the 1st time in History, the World Bank Group has joined forces with a group of world religious leaders in an attempt to end extreme poverty by 2030. The Partnership has been developed out of a concept of the World Bank President Mr. Jim Yong Kim. More than 30 religious leaders and heads of global faith-based organizations have signed this joint statement. As part of the initiative, the World Bank has planned to develop new tools for more coordination with religious groups in countries where it works.
It’s an extreme honor to see a Member of Fusion Board of Management; Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne (General Secretary – Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement) as a part of the High Level Panel of 6 World Religious Leaders that discussed the role of faith in combating poverty with the World Bank President.
The World Bank plans to work on getting more faith leaders involved in its future events. Experts in development and in religion will meet once again from July 7th-9th to discuss evidence for how religion makes a difference in sustainable development.
Over 800 young IT enthusiasts from 70 rural tele-centres Island wide were gathered at the Sarvodaya Vishwa Samadhi hall to get their talents applauded at the FUSION AWARDS 2014 organized by Sarvodaya Fusion; the ICT arm of Sri Lanka’s leading civil society movement, Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya.
On the day of the event, Vishwa Samadhi premise was flooded with these talented youngsters, who were well cladded and were second to none of the most urbanized. There were so much incomprehensible emotions in the air when these young ones were posing for their batch photographs with huge smiles spread across their faces and their family members watching them with pride and tears of contentment from a distance
Chief Guest of the event, Dr. Harsha De Silva; the Hon. Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Development, Guest of Honour; the Hon. President of Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya; Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne along with all the other special guests including Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne; General Secreatary Sarvodaya, Mr. Madu Ratnayake; Chairman of Sarvodaya Fusion and the General Manager of Virtusa, Dr. Harsha Liyanage ; Managing Director Sarvodaya Fusion, Mr. Rohan Pandithakkorralage; Director- HR Aitken Spence, Mr. Dumindra Rathnayake; Ex- CEO of Etisalat Lanka were gracefully welcomed in to the ceremony by a group of traditional dancers.
Following the lightening of the oil lamp, singing of the National Anthem and a traditional Pooja Dance, Dr. Harsha Liyanage; Managing Director of Sarvodaya Fusion welcomed the gathering highlighting “Empowerment of Rural Youth through ICT” as the core mission of Sarvodaya Fusion. Coming up on stage next, Mr. Madu Rathnayake; Chairman of Sarvodaya Fusion, delivered the key note speech of the evening elaborating further on the importance of connecting technology and education to meet the demands of a globalized world.
The ceremony kicked off in full phase, awarding nearly 800 IT enthusiasts with Diploma in Computer Applications (DICA) certificates among which 30 students who excelled in the examinations were awarded with Gold, Silver & Bronze medals as an encouragement. Additionally awards were presented to the “Upcoming Entrepreneur”, “Most Outstanding Entrepreneur” and the “Best Telecentre” selected among 70 Telecentre network. Several industry partners and Corporate Partners were appreciated in recognition of their contribution made towards the successful implementation of e-Empowerment projects during the last year.
Guest speech and presentation on Cyber Security made by Ms. Shalini Ratwatte; Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs for South East Asia New Markets of Microsoft was a key Highlight of the event. Opportunity was provided to showcase the hidden talents of the participants and a speech was delivered in English by Master I.D.S.R.D. Jayasinghe of Refresh College – Puttalam who became the Island rank 1 in November 2014 Examination. Mr. Ishara Madushanka; Managing Director of Infogate IT Institute – Kanthale who was awarded the most outstanding entrepreneur 2014 shared his thoughts representing all the Fusion Grassroots Partners. Students of Infinite IT Education – Thudella entertained the audience with a Western dance performance which added glamour and hype for the day.
The generous support extended by the Gold Sponsors Microsoft Sri Lanka and Singer Sri Lanka together with Silver and Bronze sponsors NDB Bank, Seylan Bank, Tech One, Glaxosmithkline, Coca-Cola and Aquafresh made the event a reality. Read me was the digital partner of the event.
The annual training programme of Fusion Education in empowerment and capacity building of grassroots partners was held yesterday at the Sarvodaya- Nagarodaya Premises. The usual annual “Training of Trainer” (ToT) coaching specified for DICA and Kids Courses was replaced by a Business Skill Development training this year taking into consideration the need to pave the way for further growth of our grassroots partner entrepreneurs’ businesses. This time around, more time has been allocated to Business Topics with only 2 hours designated to the traditional ToT Training. The highlight of this year’s training is our Chief Guest of the event; Mr. Dumidra Rathnayake’s (Former- CEO of Etisalat Lanka) commitment extended to provide free personal consultation to all the participants of the workshop. The attendees were also privileged to get the rare opportunity of meeting our (Fusion’s) UK based Managing Director,Dr. Harsha Liyanage.
The workshop covered a range of essential business management topics such as Sales and Marketing skills, Public speaking and presentation skills, efficient Multitasking, developing a proper Business plan and ToT for DICA and Kids Courses of Fusion Education. We had the honor of having Mr. Parakrama Wijerathne; Senior Manager, Dealer Sales & Services – Etisalat Lanka as the trainer for Sales and Marketing session. Mr
The 3rd stage of HSBC/Microsoft Scholarship Programme successfully concluded with the fourth career guidance programme held at the Zonal Education office Paddiruppu, Batticaloa last Friday (25th July 2014). Mrs. Pillainayagam; Education Director of Paddiruppu Zonal Division graced the event as the chief guest.
Batticaloa marked the highest no of student attendance (55 students) for the programme with compared to the other 3 districts; Jaffna, Moatara and Gampaha where career guidance programmes were held previously under the same project.
Get more insights on the previous programmes at:
The Assistant Director of Paddiruppu Zonal Division initiated the workshop with a brief speech on the importance of getting proper career guidance right before advancing from school life to a career. The Batticaloa training was conducted by Mr. Ravee Thileeban of Global Talent Coach & Consultants (Pvt) Ltd (GTCC) – http://www.gtcnconsultants.com. The morning sessions of the training was completely focused on topics such as self -evaluating, choosing a career path, Choosing between higher studies and pursuing a career immediately after A/Ls’, Exploring various Career options etc. During these sessions, students were divided into 3 groups and were asked asked to choose a name and a cheer for their group. The students came up with the names Fire, Gun and Tiger.
The training was quiet interactive and with his constant “refresher”techniques Ravee made sure all students stayed energetic and focused from the beginning of the programme till the very end. The 2nd half of the training that came after lunch consisted of a number of outdoor activities. Important topics such as Focus, Teamwork, Decision making and thinking out of the box were completely covered through games and group activities. Motivational videos were played during the morning refreshment, Lunch and evening refreshment breaks to keep the students inspired. As well other important areas such as grooming, cover letter and cv making, interview facing were covered through presentations and discussions during the 2nd half.
During the last 45mins of the training, students were asked to do a group presentation on the overall topics taught during the workshop reflecting on the lessons learned throughout the day. The students used that presentation platform to speak about what they personally achieved through the workshop and what sort of an experience it has been for them.
The 3rd HSBC/Microsoft Career Guidance Programme that was scheduled to be held on the 11th of July 2014 at G.B. Senanayake Maha Vidyalaya, successfully concluded last Friday. Mrs. Maithree Malwattegoda; the Deputy Manager of Sarvodaya Fusion, Ms. Heshani Jayaweera; Banking Associate of HSBC and the principal of G.B. Senanayake Vidyalaya opened the career guidance platform with providing meaningful speeches on the importance of proper career and future planning. Following the speeches, the audience was handed over to the HSBC resource team lead by Heshani to conduct the training. Under the HSBC/Microsoft project, 40 DICA passed out students from Infinite Computer Education Centre, Ja-ela participated this training. On the request of the school principal, an additional 20 A/L students of G.B. Senanayake Maha Vidyalaya were given the opportunity to attend the training as guest participants.
The morning sessions focused on building positive mind sets and attitudes, understanding individual future goals and raising awareness on work place ethics. The sessions consisted of Interactive group activities and the messages conveyed using Video materials by HSBC Staff were well received by the Students. The afternoon and evening sessions covered a range of topics such as Self assessments, making cover letters and CVs, Facing interviews, Grooming and Team work skills.
The programme went up to 5.20 pm taking up an additional 20 minutes than planned. This happened due to students requiring more time than scheduled to complete the CV making sessions and facing interviews.All participants were individually provided training on facing interviews. The programme was successfully wrapped up after clicking the official group photograph.
Fusion extends our gratitude to everyone who are stake holders in making this event a success. A Special thank goes to Mr. Niel Gunadasa; Director IT-Ministry of Education, Mrs. Udara Dikkumbura; Assistant Director IT- Ministry of Education, Mrs. Dilini Fernando; Corporate Sustainability Manager -HSBC, Mrs. Janakie Karunarathne; community affairs Manager Microsoft Sri Lanka, HSBC Team lead by Ms. Heshani Jayaweera, Zonal Director – Gampaha Education zone and Mr. Imaalan Samaratunga – Sarvodaya Fusion Coordinator for Ja-ela .
For further details on the project and previous workshops : http://fusion.lk/hsbcmicrosoft-career-guidance-programmes-in-jaffna-matara-districts-conclude-succesfully/
Proper Guidance towards choosing a future career path can make a big impact on a youth’s future, especially for those who come from marginalized communities where a “Future Career” is only defined in terms of Doctors, Engineers, Teachers and another few professions. Though they have so much potential, these youth are often not so open to the idea of stepping outside these boundaries and exploring new career paths nor do they seem to correctly understand the competition for university entrance or even the employ-ability of University graduates in Sri Lanka. These youth from rural, low income Sri Lankan communities often possess lots of talents with tremendous potential towards a bright future but as a result of lacking the soft skills required to be employed in professional careers, they often end up in low level jobs such as clerical, labor work and garment jobs.
The scholarship programme of Microsoft & HSBC in partnership with Fusion is one such attempt taken in supporting these sort of talented youth across Sri Lanka. As the 3rd phase of this CSR Project, Career Guidance Programmes are being held in the project Districts – Jaffna, Matara, Gampaha and Batticaloa. The top 50 students from each district who have excelled in the DICA final examination are selected to get the career guidance training. As of now, the programmes in Jaffna and Matara Districts have concluded successfully and the Gampaha and Batticaloa programmes are scheduled to be held on the 11th of July and 25th of July 2014 respectively.
This Career Guidance workshop is a full day training (9.00 am – 5.00pm) that raise awareness on different career options available in the job market and provides students with soft skills required in getting a competitive job. The workshop covers a range of topics such as Practical Skills in Career Management, Developing positive mind sets, Looking for the right kind of Job, Creating “killer” resume, Interviewing Strategies, Grooming, Body Language, Ethical issues in career management etc.
Looking back at the concluded programmes, the Jaffna workshop was held on the 13th of June 2014 in Vaddu Hindu College, Jaffna with the participation of 39 students. The HSBC Team lead by Ms. Amirtha did a good job in providing these students with personal career counseling and soft skills training along with a few brainstorming and team building games. The Jaffna Branch Manager of HSBC participated the closing ceremony as a special guest and presented gifts to the winners of the games. Following this all the participants were given gifts by HSBC Staff appreciating their participation.
On the other hand, the Matara District programme was held on the 27th of June 2014 at the Morawaka Keerthi Abeywickrama National College with the participation of 50 students. The Zonal Director and Assistant Director of Morawaka zonal division and an official representing Ministry of Education along with the principal of Morawaka Keerthi Abeywickrama National College; Mr. W.W. Mahinda participated the opening ceremony of the programme.
The HSBC Team lead by Ms. Roshani conducted quite an effective training using both personal counseling and visual media tools for demonstrations. As well, the past DICA students of Kenturky IT Centre, Morawaka guided by the centre Manager Mr. Suneth Chaminda provided immense support throughout the programme, looking into all the logistic arrangements required during the programme.
The support extended by the Director IT- Ministry of Education; Mr. Neil Gunadasa, The Zonal Education Directors of Jaffna and Morawaka Zonal Divisions, Mrs.Dilini Fernando; Corporate Sustainability Manager -HSBC, Mrs. Janakie Karunarathne; community affairs Manager Microsoft Sri Lanka, HSBC Teams lead by Ms. Amirtha and Ms. Roshani, Mr. S. Dananjayan; principal of Vaddu Hindu college – Jaffna, Mr. W.W.Mahinda- Principal of Morawaka Keerthi Abeywickrama National College, Mr. Sasikaran and Mr. Suneth Chaminda -Sarvodaya Fusion coordinators for Jaffna and Matara Districts, was tremendous without which the success of these programmes would not have been achieved.
When it comes to using information technology to solve problems of communities, NGO sector need to play a leading role.
So why is it that NGO’s with great networks, human resources and know how, fail to create a larger impact in societies?
Limited usage of information technology is one.
NGO’s are not in a greater position to recruit the talent which is expensive. And even if they have, NGO’s often lack a vision and thought leadership to guide it.
The “coding your way to opportunity” grant by World Bank and Microsoft, administered by Sarvodaya-Fusion, is an effort to bridge the gap between coders and NGO’s.
Immediately after announcing the grant, we, at Fusion, understood that NGO’s were having a hard time figuring “what kind of an idea would fit the criteria of a good proposal”
Coders were interested as the grant was asking for using tech to solve social problems, but they were clueless as to how they could collaborate with a NGO. (One of the criteria for the grant is, that the project should be led by an NGO).
Taking responses from NGO’s and coders, we held a “live chat”, connecting experts from World Bank, Micorosoft and software developers with applicants.
Going further to bridge the gap, we have designed an “IDEA SHOP”, to guide coders and NGO’s to understand “ what exactly would make a good proposal”.
It started with an ice breaker session where participants had to know each other in the workshop beyond their job titles. Aim of that session was to identify a common ground for people coming from “2 different worlds”. That was how coders and NGO’s saw themselves at the beginning!
Then we explained about the proposal going through each of the requirement.
Most of the doubts and issues were solved by that session.
Then we started the most creative and impactful session. We got the participants to get in to two groups, each with a balanced representation of coders and NGO’s
Each group had to identify a need that the NGO partners has, brainstorm about it, develop a solution and present it.
First idea was to develop a tech solution to help deaf and dumb communities.
Second idea was to develop a portal to help small and medium entrepreneurs to share information about their products, so that they can find new buyers.
It was wonderful to see that the 2 ideas presented, were picked by 2 NGO’s to lead and send proposals to the grant before June 30th, which is the extended deadline.
Sharing her experience at the workshop, Kenosha Kumaresan from Family Planning Association, expressed her views.
“FPA Sri Lanka was very much interested in applying for the Youth Grant available for a project done via coding. However as an organization that works in Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) I found it hard to draw parallels between addressing SRH and Coding. Therefore, with the support of my superiors I participated in the Google-hangout conducted by World Bank Sri Lanka. Sadly, I did not receive a comprehensive response to my question; on the contrary it left me with more questions! Therefore I was really hoping that the ‘Idea-shop’ conducted by Sarvodaya-Fusion, World Bank Sri Lanka and Microsoft Sri Lanka would address these questions.
I consider myself fairly tech-savvy but programming and coding are far from my reach. Hence, being in a gathering with my fellow NGO colleagues as well as programmers/coders was indeed strange and yet a great initiative to bridge the gap between technology and grassroots work with communities.
It was also nice to see the programmers/coders taking an extra effort to simply their tech-jargon so the common man could understand! Truly a commendable effort as it could not have been easy!
While the open discussion addressed the questions that the participants had to a great extent, it was the group exercise that proved fruitful. Through this exercise the NGOs were able to identify how technology can in fact simplify so many problems that the communities, particular the vulnerable communities face in society. Our case study on how a simple ‘real-time voice conversion app into sign language’ (and vice versa) could solve the needs of the deaf and dumb communities was a perfect example of how coding can open up opportunities for many both locally and internationally. This example also convinced me that there is a strong correlation between how coding can help spread Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) to the youth in order to enhance universal access to SRH and to address issues such as discrimination, gender equality & violence against women “