The ‘Year of English and IT’ is launched as a major initiative of the Government to help Sri Lanka meet the demands of the 21st Century in skills and capacities to pave the way for a knowledge driven society.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said his Government lays emphasis on the unmistakable need to urgently equip the people, especially the youth, with proficiency in the English language on the one side and to provide them with access to computers and internet facilities, through the rapid development of use of information technology, on the other.
Adequate knowledge of both English and IT is a compelling necessity as tools to access the many opportunities available in today’s society, where the rapid development of technology and the advance of globalization demand a competitive edge in the moves towards rapid economic progress.
I pledge the total commitment of my Government to accelerated action to widen the knowledge of English and IT in Sri Lanka, and look to this Year of English and IT to lay the groundwork for tangible success in these vital fields for the progress of Sri Lanka.
Our aim is to provide English as a Life Skill to our youth as well as those already in employment to increase employability and advance in their chosen fields of activity.
The combination of English with IT will open new avenues of employment for individuals and entirely new spheres of employment generation in the country, thereby improving living standards of the people.
The rapid expansion of the knowledge of English and spread of skills in IT are among the new challenges we face in our march towards building a New Sri Lanka, with genuine empowerment of the people.
We have already taken an important step in this direction with the setting up of the Presidential Task Force on English and IT last year. I am pleased that significant action towards the training of teachers of English has been taken even preparatory to the Task Force being established.
It is necessary today to look at the most modern and scientifically proven methods of teaching English-spoken, written and for special needs as it is most suited to the needs of the emerging society in the New Sri Lanka.
We must shed the unreal fears of threats to culture and tradition through knowledge of English and instead look at how this Life Skill by improving livelihoods and bringing wider knowledge to our people, will further enrich our culture and traditions.
Similarly we should look at how best if could help our people, not only in our cities, but in the vast rural sector too. We should look to the expansion of the Nena Sala and Vidatha programs and more ways of bringing IT closer to our schools and people.
I take this opportunity to thank our neighbour, India for the ready assistance given to the training of English teachers, and the moves to establish partnerships with those teaching English in Sri Lanka, as well as looking to Sri Lanka for expansion of IT related services that have contributed much to India’s economic expansion in recent years.
We look forward to continued co-operation in this and similar fields of activity beneficial both mutually and to the entire South Asian Region.