- Vents His Spleen On Advertising Banner
One of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s advisers castigated an education institute for carrying an advertising banner that depicted young men and women in Western attire.
President’s Adviser on English Sunimal Fernando who was, among other things, introduced as a Royalist and having had his higher education at Cambridge, prior to making his speech at a function at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL) on Monday, in his speech referred to those in the picture depicted in one of ICASL’s banners, advertising its course on financial English, as being parrots, parroting the West.
ICASL, set-up by an Act of Parliament, functions under the Trade Ministry as an autonomous body.
Fernando asked the institution to have localized (“swabasha type”) pictures, faulting them for carrying a banner depicting young men and women in western attire.
The occasion was the inauguration of fee levying financial English classes for ICASL students conducted by Cambridge University.
He said that around 1973-74, when he was working for the then Premier Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike, a friend of his, Nihal Perera, an accountant led a demonstration in Fort advocating that accountancy be taught in the vernaculars. The man behind this demonstration was Fernando’s brother-in-law, P.M. Wijesuriya, the then Auditor General, he said.
Fernando said that English is the language of business, but the danger is in trying to ape the West.
If English is linked with elitism its propagation and attempts to spread it islandwide won’t work, said Fernando.
English should be recognized as a life skill only, like learning to drive a vehicle or operating the computer, said Fernando.
He attacked some corporate managers, without naming them for spreading the “gospel of Anglicisation” even after working hours. “But that is not so in countries such as India, Malaysia and Indonesia,” he claimed.
Fernando said that the Government project, “Speak English Our Way” is gaining ground because its beginnings are at the grassroots and not in academia. Some 23,000 village teachers, tasked with the responsibility of teaching English to village students, have been roped into this project which is being implemented with South Indian assistance.
He said that the local academia, at the university level, who have been given the responsibility of drafting and crafting English syllabi to schoolchildren, were out of touch with reality, being Anglicised themselves.
Fernando said that mispronunciation of words were alright. “Even in the UK, in different places, English is spoken differently,” he said.
Fernando also praised Rajapaksa’s efforts in promoting trilingualism in the island, a controversy due to the seeming lack of resources for the promotion of such.