Incubator Spaces for Free Expression, Information Rights, and Innovation

In Sri Lanka, the literacy rate among youth (age 15-24) stands at 99 percent as per the World Bank statistics of 2020. However, there is potential to further develop critical reasoning among the same youth through the provision of multi-disciplinary learning opportunities and an enabling space to access information knowledge, engage in free expression, and innovation.

HELVETAS Intercooperation gGmbH Sri Lanka under the Incubator Space for Promoting Information Right and Freedom of Expression (InSPIRE) project established three incubator spaces in collaboration with Media and Journalism students and lecturers from University of Sri Jayawardenepura, University of Peradeniya, and University of Jaffna. These incubator spaces have been established in the Department of Sinhala and Mass Communication, University of Sri Jayawardenepura, Department of Agriculture Extension, University of Peradeniya and Department of Media Studies, University of Jaffna through a series of consultations with the students and lecturers.

An Incubator Space is an integrated learning space that provide opportunities for multi-disciplinary learning, networking, collaboration with resource persons, media sector professionals and peer learning for aspiring young media and journalism students in the three universities. The spatial design of each incubator space has been created to provide a progressive and enabling environment for media and journalism students to freely engage in dialogue on contemporary political, socio-economic issues in the country; enhance their practical skills, engage in media production and conduct sharing sessions. Each incubator space is equipped with a broadcasting area, media equipment, co-working space, lounge area and conference facilities. Furthermore, journalism students are provided an opportunity to access equipment and technical facilities to utilize skills they acquired through the InSPIRE project in mobile multi-media articles, blogs, cartoon and doodle animation, mobile video stories, mobile short films, mobile and DSLR photography.

The event to launch the Incubator Space at the University of Peradeniya was conducted on the 10th of November, 2022. The occasion was graced by Mr. Nicolas GERARD - International Aid Cooperation Officer and Programme Manager, Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives; Mrs. Subhashi Dissanayake – Country Director for HELVETAS Sri Lanka and Prof. M. D. Lamawansa - Vice Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya. Also present at the event was Prof. Sarath Kodithuwakku - Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture; Dr. Uvasara Dissanayake - Head of the Department of Agriculture Extension, Mr. Azad Mustafa – Programme Director of SDJF, InSPIRE Team members from HELVETAS and SDJF, as well as faculty members and undergraduate students of Media & Communication and Fine Arts students from the faculty of Agriculture and Agriculture extension.

The project “Incubator Space for Promoting Information Right and Freedom of Expression” (InSPIRE) is funded by the European Union and co-implemented by HELVETAS Intercooperation gGmbH Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum.

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