The indispensable English language
It is a known fact that English has become sine qua non, that is,
indispensable, for everyone’s advancement and improvement if one is to
succeed in modern society. The language’s qualities of relative
simplicity and flexibility enhances its chances of taking root and
Now the question arises, how could one learn and practise this
all-important universal language? A probable answer would be : the means
and capacity to fulfil one’s desire to realize this ambition.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken cognizance of this urgent need
- and based on his idealogy - the Cabinet has taken a decision to change
the English school syllabi with special emphasis of improving students’
spoken and communicative skills in the English language.
English language opens new vistas. File Photo
It is fair to content that logic, intuitions and emotions may each
have played a vital part when making this supreme decision. However,
with a view to developing and sharing knowledge, ideas and insights
aimed at increasing understanding, plans should be drawn and strategies
implemented to enhance participation in high - quality ‘out of school’
time learning programs so that students, especially those with the
highest needs, follow them to gain learning and development benefits. In
similar vain, it is worthy to comprehend that by effecting the envisaged
change, that equal emphasis on writing as well be made by enforcing
English as the medium of instruction to all grades in schools on and all
The spoken word, the art cum eloquence in speaking and words written
on paper, no doubt, bear the same significance to achieve excellence in
any language. The decision made by, the president is most welcome,
opportune and laudable, to say the least. The President’s passion is
people and to do the best for them, he will use his power to give the
student population the benefits that are their due, through compassion
In the technologically advanced societies, more importance is
attached to educational achievement than ever before. The percentage of
children going for higher education increases every year, and success in
examinations or achievement tests play an increasingly significant part
in the arena of information technology. In addition, children must
acquire a much larger body of knowledge to understand and adopt to the
greater complexity of industrial society.
The three ‘R’s of elementary education - reading, writing and
arithmetic - are no longer sufficient in an age of speed, job mobility,
and increasingly complex social organizations. Therefore, for national
as well as international progress, English holds the key. In the arena
of education in the work place, and in many leisure pursuits, the
The fundamental difference between yesterday and today. So, the
urgent need to broaden access to computer and information science skills
and through those skills to improve and sustain economic opportunities
and more fruitful participation in virtually every dimension of modern
life is the essence of the challenge.
There is a need, especially at this moment in time, for the provision
of rigorous, relevant and rewarding academic education to every child in
our country from primary, through secondary to tertiary grades and
above. Those in-charge and responsible for the educational process in
Sri Lanka should endeavour to prescribe relevant and required standards
encompassing all parameters within the school - University curriculum
semester by semester and, thereby, monitor syllabi to ensure that
prescribed standards are maintained and practised.
The success achieved by students in their respective schooling or
university careers will positively serve as a catalyst for economic
prosperity taking into consideration the fact that educational
institutions will have the requisite capacity to produce quality
professionals with astounding consistency.
By indulging in proper and meaningful research with emphasis on
knowledge, academic and scientific discipline and adopting conclusions
arrived at consequent to research, students as well as teachers will
benefit immensely and enjoy its many opportunities, consequent to the
development of their individual talents and intelligence.
Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of those overseeing
education in Sri Lanka to critically think about the issues and come up
with feasible solutions to the problems plaguing education, by
overcoming economic difficulty and providing streamlined education so
that the literacy rate in our country will increase.
Education is defined as the process of establishing habits of
critical and independent appraisal of information for the purpose of
intellectually developing the whole person, and it is believed that an
educated citizenry in essential for the success of their design.
Educationist is a force required to be moulded and inculcated among
students and teachers alike to give decorum to life, and is the
knowledge of putting one’s potentials to maximum use.
There are two reasons why education is important, viz. the training
of a human mind is incomplete without education, education makes man a
right thinker and decision-maker and secondly, it is only true the
attainment of education, man is enabled to receive all necessary current
information. Without education, humans are segregated as in a closed
room, and with education, humans will find themselves accessible towards
the outside world.
Intelligence could be based on the following, viz numerical ability,
verbal fluency, memory and the ability to reason. We should ask
ourselves whether tests on these abilities are structured and carried
out in educational institutions of modern times. Students should be
tested in these areas as such tests are of considerable use, though
their limitations should be recognized. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has
launched the “18-month Road Map of Dr. Sunimal Fernando’s Proposal to
promote spoken/communicative English in Sri Lanka”, coupled with the
release of the New Teacher Guide and Manual for teaching spoken English.
With its implementation, it is believed that every educational
institution - on an all - island basics - will be in possession of the
New Teacher Guide and Manual, shortly. By doing so, a ‘gateway’ as it
were has been created for all students of all races to have the right to
equal access to the facility of a school and medium of instruction of
their choice. We must accept the fact that each student is unique in his
or her own way - there should be no discrimination; they have their own
interest and aspirations - permit them this right so that they could
strive to achieve their goal.
After all, it is their legitimate choice and pursuit to achieve
academic excellence, they need to discover themselves their worth and
what is right for them. The dominant method of teaching, is by feeding
facts to children, needs to be dispensed with by a new method that
engages youth in the learning process and develops minds by encouraging
problem solving, decision making and creativity.
School and learning needs to be a relevant, interesting experience
for children whose attention can too often get diverted by television
and video games or drugs and crime. The above mentioned methods will be
of paramount importance when implementing the “Road Map for spoken
English” by the Central and Provincial Education Ministries and they
should be monitored and co-ordinated by the Special Initiative Unit of
the Presidential Secretariat with a sense of responsibility, dignity and
Another salient feature that needs to be addressed is student unrest.
In today’s context, there is a need to overcome revolts in campuses.
This is as important as defeating terrorism. Clashes at schools and
universities have been evident as one might gather from the press and
television accounts. But, it is felt that until our colleges and
universities become again what they profess to be - life - enhancing
centres of liberal education - they are likely to have little peace.
We have put too much stress in recent times on intellect, too little
on character building. We have sharpened our wits while weakening our
restraints. We exaggerate the value of newness in ideas and things. It
is so much easier to be original and wise. The customs, conventions and
beliefs of mankind are the product of ‘trial and error’ experience
through many centuries.
It is unlikely that any individual, however intellectually brilliant,
can come in one life time to such knowledge and depth of understanding
as to sit safely and wisely in judgment of ancient ways. Man is wiser
than any man. Hence there is something disagreeably shallow about
sophistication; it suggests cleverness about the part and ignorance of
the whole. Modesty makes wisdom wiser, as it makes beauty lovelier.
The whole world of knowledge, technology, morals, manners,
government, literature, philosophy and art belongs to everybody and is
our heritage. With proper administrative guidance in the respective
areas to those attempting to gain professional status, Sri Lankans could
achieve excellence in their respective fields and in turn, they could be
classified as prodigies.
With the scourge of terrorism being defeated for good in Sri Lanka,
we may see children in all kinds of settings, e.g. welfare Camps. It
will be fair to state that one would be impressed by their toughness,
their resilience, their ability to endure, to find food to bear hardship
and pain against all odds. No matter how difficult their surroundings,
one will be surprised by the ease with which they learn to play. They
deserve better lifestyles now more than ever. Let them enjoy the
discretion of the President.
Children are all around us. They represent a fair percentage of our
country’s population. They are not equipped to defend themselves; they
must depend on what is given to them. They are victims of circumstances.
They bring us joy, they bring us tears, they bring responsibility and
above all, they are our reason to hope. They are your children, they are
my children, they are the children of our country - Mother Lanka.
Reaching the goal
Dramatic new findings prove that a child’s basic intelligence can be
significantly augmented by teachers who are willing to follow a few
essential rules of training and encouragement. Science may challenge
this assumption - and in the process delegating teachers a heady
responsibility, i.e. raising children’s intelligence qualification in
the crucial early years when it is most malleable.
Great articles written and published by eminent personalities are all
too often underestimated as being mere words. In fact, they can either
pose serious consequences or have powerful repercussions - good or bad.
The writer trusts that the sequence of events narrated on this vital
subject will be appealing, harmonious and acceptable. In short, the
subject is compulsive, the course should be fulfilled, the goal reached
notwithstanding difficulties encountered and the conflicts involved.
By experiencing the success of the implementation of the “18 Month
Road Map of Dr. Sunimal Fernando’s Proposal”, we will witness a society
where people will be free to assert their inalienable rights to life,
liberty and pursuit of happiness.