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Sunday, 14 November 2004    
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Computer literacy low-Survey

by Gamini Warushamana

A survey has revealed that computer literacy rate in Sri Lanka is very low and only 9.7% of the household population in the age group 5-69 are computer literate. The survey was conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics.

In addition the survey has revealed that computers, internet and email facilities available in households is also very low. At national level only 3.8% of the households have computers. Sector wise 10.1% of the urban households, 3.1% of the rural households and 0.3% of the estate households have computers. At national level only 0.9% and 0.7% households have access to e-mail and Internet respectively.

People in 36.1% of the households who do not own computers strongly feel that they need to have one. From the households that are having computers 53.3% are using them for less than 10 hours per week. Only 18.2% of the household population are aware about the computer and the various applications. Only 2.8 and 2.6 percent of the household population use e-mail and internet on their own. Largely (40 percent) Internet users have used it in their work places/offices. Over 20 percent have mentioned home and private institutions such as communication centres/cyber cafes etc. About 13 percent have used this facility in their friends/relatives homes.

Digital divide is one of the major problems that governments of third world countries are considering in this globalisation age. The meaning of the words the "Digital divide" is the gap between those who can effectively use new information and communication tools and those who cannot.

Lack of such access affects the ability of children to improve their learning with educational software, adults to acquire valuable technology skills, and families to benefit from them. Although we are aware that the digital divide is too wide in Sri Lanka we didn't know the exact figures and exact knowledge of the problem. Therefore the findings of this survey are very important.

Since Sri Lanka is still not a fully-fledged computer user definitions on computer literacy used by developed countries have not been adopted in this survey. A person was considered as computer literate if he/she could do something on his/her own using a computer. For example, if a child of 5 years old could play a game using a computer on his/her own, he/she was considered as computer literate.

The household survey was conducted in all districts except Mullaitivu and Killinochchi and covered 11500 households selected scientifically.

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