Niranjan Meegammana

Ashoka Fellow
Sri Lanka,
Fellow Since 2011

Citation

This profile was prepared when Niranjan Meegammana was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Niranjan is closing a huge disparity in the Sri Lankan educational system by having created a model for the creative use of ICT to enhance learning and improve access to quality education for rural students. Niranjan, a pioneer of Sinhala Unicode in Sri Lanka, has combined his aptitude in developing content in local languages with the growing ICT use among Sri Lankans through Nanasala (government funded e-learning centers) to ensure that the quality of education for all Sri Lankan students comes to parity. His electronic educational materials and teaching methodology have created a multiplier effect at the local and regional levels. By significantly improving marginalized communities’ access to high-quality knowledge that has been contextualized to their local settings, he has also helped children and adults meet socioeconomic and environmental challenges by pioneering local language technologies, and standardizing and mainstreaming local content development on a large-scale, while using technology to make learning fun and easy.

Niranjan is also using Skype to conduct tutorials that would be otherwise too expensive for poor students. By enhancing the learning content with visual and audio prerecorded materials that can be simply uploaded onto a SIM phone card, he is the first to provide local language learning materials that can be used offline. Niranjan’s most popular tutorials are mock exams and past question paper answering sessions that can be accessed using mobile phones. His wide distribution of digital learning materials with lots of animation, tutorials via Skype, and prerecorded DVDs have already contributed to national objectives of reducing school dropouts and have improved the examination performance of rural students.

Niranjan’s organization, Shilpa Sayura (Sea of Knowledge) covers multiple disciplines in primary and secondary education. He has formed collaborative partnerships with the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Education using the existing school system to reach out to marginalized groups with an alternative education model. Niranjan has reduced the digital, poverty, and gender divide while promoting equal access to education through Telecenters, which have been transformed into a digital education network.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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