Mobilising Citizen Journalism and Empowering Rural Communities in Sri Lanka

Mobilising Citizen Journalism and Empowering Rural Communities in Sri Lanka

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Sarvodaya-Fusion, the information and communication technology (ICT) education arm of nonprofit group Sarvodaya, has been involved in developing and implementing a broad range of educational programmes in disadvantaged communities since 2006. Microsoft Sri Lanka is committed to providing Sarvodaya-Fusion with technical and financial support in aid of their efforts to strengthen community bonds and empower marginalised youth in Sri Lanka through ICT training.

Microsoft supported Sarvodaya-Fusion in the launch of a new citizen journalism programme

In November 2012, Microsoft supported Sarvodaya-Fusion in the launch of a new programme to train ‘citizen journalists’ to develop news stories and share the information in real time — with the ultimate objective of using technology to facilitate increased transparency and citizen participation at the community level. During the workshop, participants were given the opportunity to receive personal coaching and practical experience in the field of participatory journalism, as well as develop basic photo journalism skills.  

The use of ICT as a powerful but affordable means of communication has vastly reshaped the nature of journalism — a good example is how a local citizen journalist is able to conduct interviews and leverage social networks to deliver a piece of news relying solely on a smartphone’s functions. According to Sarvodaya-Fusion, the yardstick of success for this citizen journalism programme would be measured by the stories generated by the trainees, as part of the efforts to build stronger communities.

Udara Dharmasena, a Project Coordinator at Sarvodaya-Fusion, said, “This new service provides an exciting opportunity for young people to actively contribute to society and culture. With the support of Microsoft, we have provided all of the tools needed to record, upload and distribute news in real time, something that has never been possible before.”

Microsoft and Sarvodaya-Fusion are providing access to ICT education to more than 1,400 young people at six Sarvodaya centres and more than twenty regional ’telecentres’

Microsoft has also joined forces with Sarvodaya-Fusion to initiate a new ICT training and employment scheme for underprivileged youth in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, which were greatly affected by the civil war over the past decades.

Together, Microsoft and Sarvodaya-Fusion aim to provide better access to ICT education to more than 1,400 young people by implementing specialised training schemes at six Sarvodaya centres and more than twenty regional ’telecentres’ across the country. The students, typically between the ages of 14 and 19, will undergo a six-month course and sit for Fusion Education’s Diploma in Computer Application (DICA) qualification, which provides a recognised accreditation in ICT knowledge.

Harsha Liyanage, Sarvodaya-Fusion Managing Director, said, “It has been a wonderful experience to work with Microsoft and offer new training opportunities to young people. The students have been enthusiastic and worked hard throughout and more than deserve the recognition and success that they are now receiving. It has been a privilege for us to be able to assist these communities that have been ravaged by the war and help them to create a sustainable future.”

“It has been a wonderful experience to work with Microsoft and offer new training opportunities to young people.”

- Harsha Liyanage, Managing Director, Sarvodaya-Fusion 

For more information, please visit http://fusion.lk

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