Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wikipedia in Sri Lanka

I am happy with another guest blogging on my blog. Mangala, Shehan and the rest of the team at Calcey Technology write about the relevance of Wikipedia in Sri Lanka.

Wikipedia is ranked within the top 10 websites visited by Sri Lankan web users. (No.7 according to the Alexa web ranking) It is therefore one of the most heavily used websites by Sri Lankans and it is a common sight to see many Sri Lankans routinely use Wikipedia as a first point reference. Sri Lanka has one of the highest literacy rates in South Asia. The penetration of ICT and computer usage especially among the rural Sri Lanka has been remarkable in the recent years. The rate of computer literacy and access to online global knowledge resources, especially among the rural youth who are more comfortable with Sinhalese, would doubtless be given a tremendous  boost thanks to the highly laudable effort by Wikipedia to develop a Sinhala User Interface.

Furthermore, the Sri Lankan government has recently commenced a One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) in rural schools. The aim of the program is to increase the computer literacy and provide access to global online knowledge resources. The laptop computers have been designed to be powered by two power sources; hydro power and solar power. In addition to the operating system in English, the children can operate the computers in Sinhala.  The Wikipedia Sinhala interface could thus complement the Government’s OLPC program by providing the underprivileged kids in Sri Lanka access to Wikipedia’s immense knowledge resource, uninhibited by language barriers.

The Sinhala language is one of the oldest languages in the world with origins dating back to the 2nd century and is used by 19 million people in Sri Lanka. Yet, due to globalization  it is increasingly under threat of devitalization, and some even forecast that it might face extinction in future if the usage declines.  In this context, the efforts by Wikipedia to vitalize the use of Sinhala in the world’s top online enclyclopedia would be heartily applauded by all Sri Lankans as a critical step towards enhancing its usage and preservation. All of us at Calcey Technologies are very excited and honored to be part of this.
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