Nov 24, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government in a measure to unify the nation and prevent resurrection of separatism has decided to declare the year 2012 as the Year for a ‘Trilingual Sri Lanka‘.
The cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal put forward by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to implement a 10-year national action plan formulated as the basis for a National Programme to motivate the people to acquire language skills in all three major languages -Sinhala, Tamil and English.
The government observes that “one of the far-seeing initiatives that need to be taken to prevent the resurgence of terrorism which ravaged the country for over three decades is to encourage the people of Sri Lanka to communicate effectively in all three languages.”
The Presidential Secretariat is expected to establish a Coordinating Unit for the purpose, the government said.
The ‘Sinhala only’ act in 1958 was seen as a catalyst for the Tamil Tiger terrorism that devastated the country for decades. The separatists used the policy as a ploy to promote their cause to carve out a separate homeland in the North and East where the major language is Tamil.
Although the governments in the late 80s recognized the problem and took rectifying measures, it was President Rajapaksa’s administration that has brought legislative measures for effective communication such as requirement for public employees to be fluent in both languages.