Teaching languages in schools - a measure to bridge communication gap in the midst of communities in Sri Lanka
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Fri May 30 14:29:31 UTC 2008
Teaching languages in schools - a measure to bridge communication gap
in the midst of communities in Sri Lanka
Fri, 2008-05-30 04:38
Colombo, 29 May, (Asiantribune.com):
Teaching of Sinhalese language in Tamil Schools and Tamil in the
Sinhala medium schools is a measure taken by the Ministry of Education
to bridge communication gap that prevails for decade in the midst of
students of Tamil and Sinhala ethnicity. Minister Education Susil
Premajayantha : Our survey revealed that there exist a language gap
between the communities and we have decided to bridge the gap. After
1956, when the Official Language Act was introduced making Sinhala the
official language of the country, the communication gap between the
Tamil and the Sinhalese speaking people emerged and began to grow
wider by leaps and bound.
In 1987, when the 13th amendment to the constitution was effected,
Tamil was also granted the status of the official language of the
country. Unfortunately, it only remained in paper, but no action was
made to implement the official language clauses enshrined in the
constitution of the country.
For the first time, concrete measures have been taken to bridge the
gap by courageously coming forward to teach national languages in
Susil Premajayantha, Minister Education speaking to Asian Tribune said
that already action has been taken to teach Tamil language in the
Sinhalese schools and Sinhala in Tamil medium schools.
Asian Tribune asked Minister Susil Premajayantha about teaching of
Tamil and Sinhala languages in schools. He said already schools have
started teaching languages – Tamil in Sinhala medium schools and
Sinhala in Tamil schools.
Given below the excerpts of the interview with Education Minister
Minister Susil Premajayantha: So far we have many programs, but
recently we started a program with the Language Institute of Mysore to
train our teachers by sending our teachers to Mysore and after that we
are getting some trainers to train our teachers in our Teachers
Asian Tribune: What is the purpose of doing this exercise?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: That is of course … now in Tamil and
Sinhalese languages medium schools students are eager to learn Sinhala
language and vice versa Sinhalese students are eager to learn Tamil
Language. So up to G.C.E Ordinary Level, students are allowed to
study, for example a Tamil student can get Sinhala language as an
optional subject and a Sinhala student can get Tamil as optional
subject. This you know could help the younger generation to bridge
that language gap. At the same time, we are improving the teaching of
the English language also. Our survey revealed that there exist a
language gap between the communities and we have decided to bridge the
Asian Tribune : You mean the communication gap?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: That's right. If we can fix that
communication gap, by educating our children with our national
languages, we believe that we can bring about interaction of our
communities. Furthermore there is language policy and we follow
Asian Tribune : What is the language policy that you just mentioned?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: Language policy of the country, you know
that Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages and English is the
Asian Tribune : OK , Where do you want to start the teaching of languages first?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: We have already started the teaching of
languages in the schools.
Asian Tribune: Tell us where you have started teaching languages?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: We have already started the teaching of
the languages in our schools. For example, we have started teaching in
Western Province schools teaching Sinhala language in the Tamil Medium
schools and Tamil in Sinhala medium schools and also in other urban
areas. To start the teaching of languages all over the country, the
only thing is that we need to train more teachers.
Asian Tribune: How many teachers are being trained by now?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: One batch is about 200 teachers. That is
in the Western province alone and in the other provinces also they
have their own program of teaching languages in their schools and the
provincial education ministries are going about with these programs.
Asian Tribune : In the Western Province alone there are about 200 teachers
Minister Susil Premajayantha: A batch …
Asian Tribune: How many batches have been already trained?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: There are many batches. So far, I think
we have trained about three to four batches. Training take place batch
Asian Tribune: In each batch how many ..?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: There will be about 200 teachers.
Asian Tribune : O.K., my question is in one batch, how many of them
are Sinhalese teachers and how many are Tamils?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: That is of course, naturally there will
be about 70 to 75 percent of Sinhala teachers to teach Tamil language
in the Sinhala language medium schools and about 20 to 25 percent of
Tamil Teachers to teach Sinhala language in Tamil medium schools.
Asian Tribune: Sinhalese teachers will be teaching Tamil in Sinhla
language in Schools?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: Yes of course. Sinhalese teachers are
trained to Teach Tamil language in the Sinhala medium schools. In the
meantime Tamil teachers are being trained to teach Sinhala language in
the Tamil medium schools.
Asian Tribune: So I can say that the teaching of languages is being
implemented only in the Western and Eastern provinces?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: No... no … teaching of the languages are
being now going on in almost all provinces in the country. Western
Province of course, that is the largest provincial council and there
we have started training at a time a batch of 200 teachers.
Asian Tribune: So this language teaching is done in all the Provincial councils?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: Yes, of course teaching of national
languages are done in the provincial level and we in the Ministrty of
Education coordinate the project of teaching.
Asian Tribune: So all the other provincial councils also has been
asked to follow it up?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: Yes .. Yes... You find Tamil medium and
Sinhalese medium schools all over the country.
Asian Tribune : From where do you get the funding to run this program?
Who is supporting it?
Minister Susil Premajayantha: Funding of course are done by my
Ministry and in some instances some INGOs such as German Agency for
Technical Cooperation (GTZ) are also assisting the program. Like the
Ministry uses our own funds, the provincial education Ministry's are
also using their funds for this language project.
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