Top image: Teachers and students using the distance learning solution
Bottom image: Left to right - Charitha Ratwatte, Head, Group Sustainability, Dialog Axiata PLC, H.U. Premathilaka, Additional Secretary (Education Quality Development), Ministry of Education, Hon. Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Education, Ministry of Education, Supun Weerasinghe, Group Chief Executive, Dialog Axiata PLC, Dr. Upali Sedara, Consultant, Ministry of Education and Dr. Madura Wehalla, Additional Secretary (Planning & Performance Review) Ministry of Education.
Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, together with Huawei and Simsyn, has further extended its support for the education sector by way of teleconference solutions for schools across the country, selected by the Ministry of Education (MOE). This is an extension of the Nenasa 1377 distance learning initiative launched in March 2020. Contrary to most of the online teaching solutions practiced by schools due to the COVID-19 crisis, this distance learning solution is freely accessible across any network and does not require students to have internet access to sit-in on lessons, thereby ensuring that no child is left behind.
This inclusive solution for distance learning will deliver education to students from schools island-wide, via classroom conference sessions, allowing students and teachers to connect through any device and any network at no cost. Students who have internet access can join by logging into the web portal via a smartphone or a laptop, whereas others can tune into the respective session(s) conducted by their school teachers via a feature phone or a landline by dialling the toll-free Nenasa 1377 hotline from any network. This solution can sustain up to 48 students joining via the 1377 hotline, whilst parallelly enabling 100 students to connect through the web portal for the same session. In total, schools can seamlessly conduct individual sessions to students who are connected through the 1377 hotline along with the others who are connected via the internet. Initiated among 100 schools, this distance learning solution will be further extended to 1000 schools across the county in order to support the ongoing COVID-19 impact mitigation efforts. With a long-term vision of facilitating schools with distance learning, this initiative aims to promote equitable access to education whilst continuing to enable the learning continuity of students from the safety of their homes.
Hon. Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Education Sports and Youth Affairs stated “Today, we bear witness to the turning point of the Sri Lankan education system. As a result of this global pandemic, the education sector was adversely affected, prompting countries to find quick solutions. Taking mammoth steps in advancing the education sector, Dialog Axiata has facilitated the Sri Lankan government in its vision of instilling distance learning in the country. We have taken this unique situation as an opportunity to teach children through various mediums of distance learning. However, less than 30% of Sri Lankan households have access to the internet. Partnering Dialog, we can now further target students through a widely accessible medium - the telephone. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the MOE and the Sri Lanka government to extend my gratitude to Dialog. Together, we are committed to ensuring equitable access to education in this time of crisis.”
Commenting, Supun Weerasinghe, Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata PLC said, “We extended these inclusive teleconferencing solutions alongside the Nenasa 1377 distance learning helpline to the Ministry of Education to facilitate 1000 schools across the country with the necessary tools to ensure continuity of their educational endeavours while also upholding a high standard of quality education and bridging the disparities faced by teachers and students in the emerging era of e-Learning. We would also like to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to the efforts taken by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) and all network operators for facilitating us in making this inclusive distance learning solution freely accessible across all networks. Our aim is to enable teachers and students with their education efforts, and not be marginalised due to the new-age digital divide, by utilising the power of the telephone, which is one of the most commonly available facilities in the country.”
This initiative by Dialog Axiata is also in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely goal number 4 - inclusive and equitable quality education. Additionally, the company also runs a range of educational platforms under the Nenasa initiative; Nenasa TV, Nenasa Smart School, Nenasa App and the Nenasa 1377 O/L helpline.
Supporting the education sector amidst a tumultuous time, the above is yet another initiative by Dialog Axiata as part of its efforts to join the nation’s fight against the pandemic. Additionally, a variety of accessible e-Connect, e-Learn, e-Health, e-Tainment, e-Care and e-Work solutions (accessible via www.dialog.lk/home) have been facilitated to over 15 million of its customers and the public, in its efforts of ensuring that Sri Lankans stay safe, stay home, and always stay connected.