A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Tuesday in Colombo between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka for setting up of a three-Tier English Language Training System in Sri Lanka.
The MOU was signed by Bandula Gunawardhana, Minister of Education, on behalf of Government of Sri Lanka and Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner of India on behalf of Government of India. The signing ceremony was attended by Sunimal Fernando, Advisor to the President and Convener, Presidential Task Force on English and IT, H. M. Gunasekera, Secretary, Ministry of Education, officials from Sri Lankan Ministries of External Affairs and Education and large number of teachers, official from all the nine Provinces of Sri Lanka. Faculty members from the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad were also present.
The MoU will implement the project entitled “India-Sri Lanka Project for Expanding English Language Training in Sri Lanka”. The Government of India will use the services of EFLU, Hyderabad as the technical consultant for this Project. As part of the technical assistance under the MOU, the Government of India will provide training to 40 Sri Lankan teachers at EFLU under the ITEC programme; provide appropriate equipment and teaching aids for setting up a language laboratory of 30 units in each of the nine Provincial Sri Lanka India Centres for English Language Training (PSLICELTs) and depute experts from EFLU to assist the PSLICELTs.
The technical assistance for English language training programme is being implemented by Government of India as part of the initiative of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to develop “English as a life skill”. In March 2010, Sri Lanka – India Centre for English Language Training (SLICELT) was set up in Peradeniya with the assistance of the Government of India. A digital language laboratory was set up at SLICELT, Peradeniya and training to 80 Sri Lankan English Teachers were provided at EFLU, Hyderabad. EFLU also served as technical consultant for the project and deputed two experts, for long term attachment.
During the visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to India in June 2010, the leaders of both countries agreed to expand SLICELT further by establishing provincial and regional centres with Indian assistance. The signing of the MOU was in pursuance of this understanding.
In his remarks after the signing ceremony Minister Gunawardhana thanked Government of India for the technical assistance provided to them for English Language training. He remarked that India was the first country which came forward to provide technical assistance to Sri Lanka for English Language training after the programme “English as a life skill” was launched by President of India in 2009. He noted that 80 master trainers trained at EFLU, Hyderabad has been able to train 23,000 teachers in less than two year. Minister appreciated the skill and expertise of the experts at EFLU. Sunimal Fernando, Advisor to the President and Convener, Presidential Task Force on English & IT expressed the similar sentiments and added that cooperation with India and EFLU was a “phenomenal success”.
High Commissioner of India in his address said that the MoU signed today will further expand cooperation between India and Sri Lanka in English language training. High Commissioner noted that India was honoured and privileged to be a part of the important initiative of the President of Sri Lanka. India and Sri Lanka are close neigbhours and are uniquely placed to learn from each other’s experience as partners in development. He added that EFLU, Hyderabad is a leading institution of its kind and a centre of excellence to teach English to non- native speakers. Highlighting the importance of learning English language in today’s globalised world, High Commissioner appreciated the approach of the project for imparting training in English as a “tool of empowerment”.
High Commissioner Kantha and Minister of Education distributed the ITEC scholarship and travel documents to 40 master trainers who would be traveling for a three month training programme to EFLU, Hyderabad on 18 September, 2011.