Koslanda success story
In early 2005, the Selvaratnam family of Koslanda realized that the future of their family printing business would be digital. When they heard about the ICTA and its plan to create a national network of Rural Knowledge Centers, they applied.
In April 2005 they opened their broadband satellite Internet facilities to the public. Today this modest facility, called Koslanda Nanasala, is recognized as one of Sri Lanka's best in terms of innovation and range of services to nearby communities.
Young people especially flock here after school hours for its affordable computer instruction provided in Sinhala and Tamil medium. In 2006, Young Asia TV produced a documentary that included scenes taken at Koslanda Nanasala. And again in September 2007, Rupavahini national television came to Koslanda Nanasala to interview Śrī Kanthan and family about their pioneering work in ICT-based rural development.
From the beginning, the driving force behind Koslanda Nanasala's success has been Mr. Śrī Kanthan, together with his brother Chandra Kanth, the Nanasala's network administrator, and sister Prema, who manages the Nanasala.
All three share the same disability which, forces them to be innovative and hard working in order to survive. Through education and ICT, they have found unimagined new ways of solving problems. Now they are teaching others.
I am also one of Śrī Kanth's friends and project partners. It is a pleasure working with Śrī Kanth in Koslanda and all over the hill country of Sri Lanka on our project work by motorbike, to Kandy to the remote corners of the district where our Adivasi friends live, and even as far as the east coast to learn about the traditions and problems of its people.
There are good reasons for Koslanda Nanasala's success. The support of the ICTA and partner NGOs makes it possible to offer free extension services in Koslanda and nearby communities.
National service organizations like Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, the Sri Lanka Children's Trust and even foreign donor agencies are keen to work in partnership with Koslanda Nanasala.
Koslanda Nanasala promotes self-reliance and self-respect among rural youth, women, and the handicapped by helping them to become self-employed, so they don't need to quit their village and migrate to urban areas.
Koslanda Nanasala also undertakes projects to improve education, health, and employment opportunities for rural youth, women, and the handicapped.
Patrick Harrigan is founder of the Sri Lanka Children's Trust and Secretary of the Hill Country Disability Group.