On 11 March, Microsoft hosted the winners of the Innovative Teachers and Students National Competition 2012 at an awards ceremony held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo.

Winners of the Innovative Teachers and Students National Competition 2012, organised by Microsoft and the Education Ministry of Sri Lanka, at the awards ceremony held on 11 March

The annual competition is jointly organised by Microsoft and the Education for Knowledge Society Project (EKSP) of the Education Ministry of Sri Lanka, and is part of Microsoft’s Global Partners in Learning (PiL) programme.

More than 85,000 students and teachers took part in the competition in two separate categories and the participants were judged in terms of their information technology (IT) knowledge — with a special focus on the level of IT competency and creativity that the participants display in developing lesson plans based on the latest software applications and tools.

Winners of the Innovative Teachers and Students National Competition 2012, organised by Microsoft and the Education Ministry of Sri Lanka, at the awards ceremony held on 11 March

The awards ceremony was graced by Honourable Bandula Gunawardena, Education Minister of Sri Lanka; Anura Dissanayaka, Additional Secretary of the Education Ministry and EKSP Project Director; and Jamie Harper, General Manager Southeast Asia, Microsoft.

During the event, Hon. Gunawardena commended the joint initiative by Microsoft Sri Lanka and the Education Ministry to boost IT education, particularly in the rural areas of the country.

“The majority of the students who won awards and certificates for excellence in IT were from rural areas, and this alone is testimony to the hard work to bolster IT education in less privileged areas.

“We have already signed an MOU with Microsoft Sri Lanka to expand the reach of IT across the country and provide necessary IT infrastructure to children living in rural communities,” Hon. Gunawardena said.

He also added that the Education Ministry is in the process of setting up 1,000 ‘Mahindodaya IT labs’ in rural schools. Each IT lab will be equipped with at least 40 computers and a ‘language lab’ to facilitate English language learning, which is necessary for IT education.

Sriyan de Silva Wijeyaratne, Country Manager for Microsoft Sri Lanka, said that there is a pressing need for the education sector in Sri Lanka to transform ‘classroom education’ through IT technology.

“The dynamics of our education sector have evolved over the years but we have yet to see any significant change in classroom education. One of the core objectives of this competition is for

Microsoft to work together with the Education Ministry to elevate the standards of IT education,” Mr Wijeyaratne said.

“We have signed an MOU with Microsoft Sri Lanka to expand the reach of IT across the country and provide necessary IT infrastructure to children living in rural communities.”

-  Honourable Bandula Gunawardena, Education Minister, Sri Lanka