PUBLIC ACCESS TO INFORMATION & ICTs PHASE II REPORT Sri Lanka
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Public access to information is provided by a variety of venues that include public libraries and ICT enabled venues. While public libraries have a history dating back to several hundred years, the other venues have been established recently with the strategic objective of diffusing and reducing disparities in access to and use of new information and communication technology. These are the publicly funded Nenasala (knowledge) centres, specialized information centres – the Vidatha Resource Centres and the Rural Agricultural Knowledge Centres, and privately owned Internet cafés that are commercially driven. In addition to these venues, non governmental organizations, the private sector, and community based organizations either on their own or in partnership with other stakeholders have established venues to meet the information needs of various segments of the population. This report presents the findings of a study undertaken to assess the information and communication needs of marginalized and underserved communities and to find out how their 2 information needs are met through public access venues especially using digital ICT services. The study is in two parts. The first assesses the macro level environment focusing on types of inequity in the country, the policy and regulatory framework relating to ICT and public access to information, and the information needs of underserved communities while the second assesses four types of venues that provide public access to information based on the findings of a survey of users and operators of these public access venues. The study draws on discussions with key stakeholders, interviews with operators and managers of public access venues and their users, key informants and a review of literature and statistical data.
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