Driving digital literary in Sri Lanka

by Jo Webber Social Media Director and Marketing Director

Naomi Booth :: Tuesday 20th November 2018 :: This Story


Combining Jo's love of travelling with her passion for digital media, this time her journey took her to the "Noble Island" of Sri Lanka. Inspired by a previous trip to Ghana, Africa in 2011 where she had taught secondary school children in Keta, as part of the Kutu Project. This goal was to drive digital literacy in schools.

Thus, she knew that when she booked my tour of Sri Lanka that having the opportunity to educate school children on the same subject would be a top priority. She had the opportunity to meet Ocean Stars Trust Founder Dilanee Bunter on Facebook (of course!) She liaised with her team mate Janabdeen at the (full name of the school) in Trincomalee, in the North Eastern Province, an area badly affected by the recent tsunami. This was a community keen to rebuild itself, and driven by Sri Lanka's national pride in education and driving all-round intellectual achievement. 

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Arriving at the school in the morning, Jo met Janabdeen and the school principal. The children seemed excited and motivated to see a fresh face. From there, they went into the classroom to complete introductions in a mixture of English and local language Tamil.

From there, Jo ran through a presentation explaining more of her background in digital media (13 years now, having completed a 4 plus year tenure at Google whilst working in London). Subsequently, they ran through statistics on digital adoption in Sri Lanka and the types of social media platforms actively engaged with plus and the most popular websites in the country.

Finally, it was time to complete an activity. The classroom of 30 children was divided into groups of five. Next, confronted with questions they hadn't been asked before, but were super motivated to brainstorm:

  • What type of business would you like to build, and why?
  • Which members of your teams will hold which function?
  • How do you plan to market to your customers i.e seasonal discounts?
  • What are your core objectives?

A cacophony of furtive noise ensued. The ideation scribbles on pieces of paper. The sense that they could achieve something collectively where shared knowledge was applied. Janabdeen and Jo mentored the children in their groups and then it was time for presentations. This was clearly far outside the comfort zones, but finally, two group winners were announced. One male and one female group discussing their business ideas around a seashell business, and an online marketplace business.

Jo had bought several computer and mobile phone gifts from Germany, where she is currently living (though originally from London).

Whilst an all-around educational curriculum is an important cornerstone for many children in this region, and in all the schools we work with, it is imperative for those children wishing to pursue a business (in various industries) to have a sense of how the internet works, how to generate sales and, crucially, stand up and be counted in today's digital era. This was a welcome step in the right direction.

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Jo Webber November 2018

 If you are interested in volunteering in Sri Lanka,

Contact Dilanee