A large majority of people living in both majority Sinhala-speaking and majority Tamil-speaking areas and belonging to the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities are urging strongly for a Trilingual Sri Lanka. Furthermore, people across the ethnic and linguistic divide have stated emphatically that in addition to other benefits a trilingual Sri Lanka will promote national harmony and communication across the borders of language and ethnicity, stated Presidential Advisor Sunimal Fernando testifying before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) at the Kadirgamar Institute.
Against a depressing background of the failure of previous governments to respond to the language aspirations of the people, the only policy statement on a trilingual Sri Lanka in recent years was made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he launched the year of English and IT, he stressed.
He told the Commission that the President has directed the preparation of a 10 Year National Master Plan for a Trilingual Sri Lanka which he hopes to launch in the course of this year, providing a detailed description of the project.
An advisory committee of 23 persons including several professors and ex-professors of Sinhala, Tamil and English has been appointed by the President to assist Presidential Advisor Sunimal Fernando to prepare a Draft 10 Year Master Plan for His Excellency’s consideration. Work on this task is currently in progress.
The Ten Year National Master Plan for a Trilingual Sri Lanka should be planned and implemented in three phases:
•Phase I : 2011 – 2012: Inception / Pilot Phase (Year 1-3)
•Phase II : 2013 – 2016: Expansion Phase (Year 4 - 7)
•Phase III : 2017 – 2020: Consolidation Phase (Year 8 - 10)
Within the next ten years, Sri Lanka should progress into a trilingual nation, with the State consistently providing its citizens the education, infrastructure and resources to acquire skills in Sinhala, Tamil and English languages to foster a society where a profound sense of assimilation and belongingness will take shape in peoples’ consciousness, Fernando said.
The project also envisions that a trilingual Sri Lanka will tear down the fences of seclusion and remoteness and be restored by solidarity and shared aims.
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