Lanka Communication Services Pvt. Ltd. has been helping Horizon Lanka since 2004 in various ways. When none of the other ISPs could provide internet to Mahavilachchiya with the then existing technology in 2004 – there was no telephone access to Mahavilachchiya till 2007 – LankaCom provided internet access to Horizon Lanka through Wireless Broadband (RLL) technology for a subsidized monthly fee.
LankaCom helped Horizon Lanka by sponsoring a hoarding for a year in 2007 too. The company also extended its help by providing a free internet connection to the Founder of Horizon Lanka, Mr Wanninayaka to continue his services in the same year.
When Horizon Lanka started its BPO, OnTime Technologies in 2007, LankaCom provided a secured free link to OnTime to continue activities.
Thus LankaCom has been contributing to Horizon Lanka to keep up its activities. We thank LankaCom for its continuous support to Horizon Lanka.
If I tell something about Mahavilachchiya, it is not reasonable not to mention about Horizon Lanka Foundation. Mahavilachchiya got more things from there. Especially in my life I got more help, advice and experiences in there. In the beginning of Horizon Lanka I never thought it could become what it is today. All of us thought Mr. Wanninayaka who is our teacher was telling us a fairy story. Really he has always very optimistic ideas. When I was in grade 8 he told you can go to university, so try to study more and more. Actually we got a big push from Horizon Lanka. I want to tell you how I built up my life with Horizon Lanka. I could get a C pass for English, it is very simple for you today, but at that time it was a very big achievement in my village. There was a prize giving at Horizon Lanka after my O/L. I took a big present for my achievements from Mr. and Mrs. Gaminitillake. It was a nice pair of earrings and some books. Then I got monetary assistance from Mr. Thushara Wijerathna and Dr. Nimal Perera who were living in the USA. It was so useful to my life. I put the money in a bank account and used them for my tuition classes and for my needs in university. The financial donation made me stronger and I had the peace of mind to concentrate on my education. Even to my parents it was great assistance. Since I had learnt computers at Horizon Lanka, even when I was in the first year I had the capability to find new information from web sites. I never felt, I'm a rural villager's daughter. I could study same as other students. If I hadn't that experience at Horizon Lanka, I'm sure I would have been stuck in competitive university life.
LTTE abducted my father last year. On that unfortunate occasion Horizon Lanka did help their best. They made blogs, and sent news to some people and encouraged us. At that time my sister was to sit for Advanced Level and I was facing my final year exam. At that time Horizon Lanka gave confidence to us, both of us faced exam. I want to tell about Mrs. Chithranganie Mubarak, who came to Horizon Lanka from ICTA. There are no words to explain her kind assistance for me.
I finished my university exam last February. I could get a job in Marga Institute in Colombo last February with the assistance of Mrs. Mubarak. Now I'm working with Marga projects in Ampara. Twice a month I go to Ampara, I get a chance to work with Sinhala, Muslim and Tamil people. All of them give kind assistance for me. I really enjoy this work and get a lot of experiences. I had studied sociology and about conflicts, ethnic problems and peace programs in my university. Now I'm getting practical knowledge about them. I have seen there are no differences among human feelings according to ethnicity. I want to see a day that all people living peacefully in Sri Lanka. I have very awful experience with war. I hate war, but I do not hate other ethnicities. Even during my childhood, I was on that position. I think I learnt these habits from Mr. Wanninayaka.
Horizon Lanka Foundation sought assistance of Global Giving few years back to raise funds to Horizon Lanka’s academic activities. Donors can donate online 10 US$ upwards to Horizon Lanka. Global Giving transfers funds to Horizon Lanka periodically. Last month there was a donation of over 5,000 US$. This was so far the biggest donation we had. We thank all the donors for this timely donation. With this money we could pay the teacher salaries of Horizon Lanka Academy which was delayed by almost two years due to lack of funding. We paid almost all the delayed teacher salaries and can now continue the academic activities uninterrupted. We thank all the donors for donating Horizon Lanka Foundation and hope they would keep contributing.
With your future donations we can do the other activities mentioned in the project page such as paying students’ tuition fees, buying students’ academic reading material, purchasing PCs and laptops, building a new computer centers, etc.
Horizon Lanka Academy has been able to produce the best results for Ordinary Level English exam from Mahavilachchiya last December too. The results were out this month and you can see the results sheet below
Hanshi Sumedha A
Chamara Pradeep A
Dhananjaya Wijewikrama A
Gayani Sandamali A
Tharanga Sampath A
Damith Jayawardana C
Vishwa Sampath C
Anushka Udeshini S
Randika Sudath S
Credits for good OL results at Horizon Lanka should go to its English teachers, foreign volunteers, e-mentors and those who communicated with students in English electronically. We wish more volunteers to teach English (both local and foreign) could join Horizon Lanka Academy.
To strengthen English education further at Horizon Lanka Academy, the Academy tied up with prestigious European College, Colombo with the support of Accelerated Skills Acquisition Project (ASAP)- USAID. The new courses will start shortly. This will enable the students and youth in Mahavilachchiya to learn English faster and be prepared for the job market within a very short time at an affordable price.
A group of students using computers at Horizon Lanka
There is a lot of talk of taking ICT to the village level. Luckily, there are quite a few initiatives to do this. Many try to do this through telecenter model initiatives. But in eVillage – Sri Lanka project, our approach is quite different.
First we studied the Horizon Lanka’s success model in Mahavilachchiya, our own initiative. Though Horizon Lanka had its own ups and downs, it has been able to sustain itself for the last 10 years or so. The main reason for the sustainability of the project is that its practical approach to the ICT usage in rural areas. Rather than becoming a mere telecenter where internet hours are sold and services like copying CDs, providing telephone calls are offered, Horizon Lanka Academy had long term goals of creating ICT culture in the village and gain a brand name to the whole village, not limiting to the institute itself.
From the very outset I understood that creating ICT culture in a remote village was a too big a task if the children and youth are not given a decent English education. The planning and subsequent execution of the planning paid off well. Today one can find in Mahavilachchiya that the students get A passes for their OL English whereas they get lesser distinctions for their mother tongue. What we did was to integrate technology into English teaching. Internet, email, IM chats, watching DVD movies, doing presentations in conferences, doing live commentaries while sports meets and other events were taken place etc. were warmly welcomed by the students. They found these methods more exciting than the traditional ways of learning a language in public schools. The end result was that English was no more a foreign language to them.
More or less similar strategy was used for ICT education where students could actively participate in real projects rather than learning concepts in theory alone. As a result, today one can find a pool of web designers, graphic designers, multimedia animators, etc. in Mahavilachchiya. Some students entered universities to further their education while some youth directly joined companies in Colombo after Advanced Level to do IT related jobs. Those who wish to remain in the village could join the BPO arm of Horizon Lanka. Growing ICT related infrastructure and increasing number of telephone networks working in Mahavilachchiya were only by products. We did not forget the elderly population as well. Once can find illiterate parents who start learning how to write with MS Paint to the parents who read online local language newspapers before going to ricefields. So there is nothing wrong in calling Mahavilachchiya an ‘eVillage’ now.
We could do all these because we set our goals beyond a telecenter right from the beginning. If we limit ourselves to a mere telecenter, we wouldn’t have achieved this much.
Mahavilachchiya eVillage model is very simple and easy to replicate. This is why the Ministry of Education is replicating the same model with our expertise right now. Visit http://evillage.wordpress.com. There are some other privately owned or community owned small projects in different parts of the country that take Mahavilachchiya as an example.
Through an eVillage, we expect to provide decent English language proficiency, ICT literacy, job opportunities to the community. Though difficult, we try our best to retain the accepted cultural values of the villages while introducing new technology to them.
A group of studnets who got good English results for OL English
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