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Sri Lanka computer literacy falls amid shift to smartphones, tablets

ECONOMYNEXT- Computer literacy in Sri Lanka had fallen while digital literacy has increased in the first half of 2018 from a year earlier, showing a move from personal computers, especially desktops, to smartphones and tablets, the state statistics office said.

Computer literacy in the first half of 2018 was 27.5 percent, down from 28.3 percent a year earlier, the Census and Statistics Department (DCS) said.

Computer literacy refers to the stare of population between the ages of 5-69 who can use a computer on their own.

Digital literacy however grew to 40.3 percent from 38.7 percent.

When the digital literacy is considered two out of every five (aged 5 – 69) has digital literacy," DCS said.

"Digital literacy is higher than computer literacy for all disaggregated levels, showing the drift from personal computer to smartphones/tablets," it said.

Digital literacy means a person can use a computer,  laptop or smartphone on their own. 

The department did not say whether the changes in the literacy rates fell within a margin of error.

DCS said 70.5 percent of those using the internet had connected through their smartphone or tablet in the first half of 2018, up from 59 percent a year earlier, while 27.1 percent used a desktop or laptop, down from 38.1 percent.

Just 2.4 percent used normal mobile phones, down from 2.9 percent a year earlier.





Sri Lanka has over 30 million mobile telephone subscriptions for a population of 21.5 million. However, smartphone penetration is much lower.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission said mobile broadband connections grew to 5.2 million in the first half of 2018 from 4.4 million a year earlier. Smartphones are usually associated with mobile broadband connections.

Singer, Sri Lanka’s largest phone retailer, said it saw a 35 percent increase in smartphone and tablet sales in the first three months of 2018.

DCS said desktop ownership fell to 10.5 percent among households in the first half of 2018, from 12.5 percent a year earlier.

Ownership of both desktops and laptops fell to only 22.9 percent from 23.5 percent, at a slower rate, which shows an increase in laptop ownership.

At Singer, laptop and smartphone sales were 6.4 billion rupees from January to June 2018, up from 4.6 billion rupees a year earlier.

Computer literacy among those who had passed GCE Advance Level was 70.2 percent, while among the English speakers, it was 67.6 percent.

Urban areas had higher than average computer literacy at 38.4 percent, which fell below par among rural and estate areas.

Among unemployed, computer literacy was 62.5 percent, up from 55.6 percent a year earlier. (Colombo/Jan29/2019)

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