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 Gen. English paper compulsory for A/L students: LLRC to take up Higher Education Ministry move

Gen. English paper compulsory for A/L students: LLRC to take up Higher Education Ministry move

2011 Feb 11

he Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will discuss a controversial decision to make it compulsory for those seeking university entrance to sit the General English paper, beginning this year, in spite of the government’s failure to assign teachers of English to many schools, especially in the rural sector.

The Island learns that the LLRC will make a strong recommendation as regards ‘language issues,’ in line with Sri Lanka’s goal of a building trilingual nation as envisaged by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

During LLRC sittings at the Kadirgamar International Institute since last August, the eight-member LLRC headed by former Attorney General C. R de Silva raised the issue with several persons testifying before the LLRC.

De Silva once warned that setting up of special schools for privileged students could cause resentment and lead to a ‘JVP type’ situation. He was responding to UPFA MP Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, who proposed the establishment of English medium Colleges for the talented Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim students under the auspices of the Education Ministry.

Following a meeting with Education Ministry Secretary H. M. Gunasekera, Higher Education Ministry Secretary Sunil Jayaratne on Wednesday (Feb. 9) said that those candidates, who had been deprived of an opportunity to study English for want of teachers at their respective schools, could mention that fact in their answer scripts.

Jayaratne said that the failure on the part of the administration to provide English teachers wouldn’t be an excuse for anyone to skip the General English paper.

He said that the GCE (A/L) candidates wouldn’t be denied admission to universities on the basis of this one-off examination, though it would be compulsory for all applicants to sit the English paper with effect from this year.

K. Mangala Janaka, media spokesman for Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake said that Minister Dissanayake had requested school principals and the Examination Department to prepare student community for the General English paper.

The spokesperson said that in keeping with a directive given by Higher Education Minister Dissanayake, those successful candidates at the 2010 GEC (A/L) examination, who had skipped the General English examination last year, would have to sit a special English examination. The examination would be necessary to test university entrants’ language skills, he said. On the basis of the results of the English examination, the students would be categorized into different groups to follow a three-month course in English and IT, he said.

According to a socio-linguistic survey conducted as an input for a 10 Year National Master Plan for a trilingual Sri Lanka by the Presidential Secretariat, there is severe dearth of teachers of English in the country. Coordinator for the presidential initiative for a trilingual Sri Lanka, Dr. Sunimal Fernando recently submitted the findings to the LLRC.

The Inter University Students Federation told The Island that the government was making a despicable attempt to discourage the youth from the provinces from pursuing higher education. A senior spokesman for the federation said described it as part of the government’s strategy to create an environment conducive to the setting up of private universities. The student leader said that the vast majority of the public would oppose Higher Education Minister Dissanayake’s latest project.

The JVPer alleged that the latest proposal was similar to the suggestion that a military training would be a pre-requisite for those entering universities.

 

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