Colombo, January 31 (newsin.asia): Richard de Zoysa, an established businessman who currently heads Elite Security Lanka, together with a group of civic-minded professionals, religious leaders and educationists, presented to the media and distinguished guests, three national initiatives – English, ethics and vocational training – which if set into motion, will auger well for the future prosperity of this country and its people.
Firmly convinced that every student in Sri Lanka should be proficient in English, de Zoysa launched the National English Foundation (NEF) in 2000 with the support of former Minister Ravi Karunanayake, only to be handicapped by a premature Government change. He feels that he has got a second wind with a new President whom he believes will provide momentum to this initiative.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who was unavoidably detained in Anuradhapura, sent his best wishes for the success of these three proposed national initiatives.
“I regret my inability to attend due to an unavoidable engagement in Anuradhapura. I commend the proposed projects – English proficiency for all students, a five-year syllabus for ethics as a subject and appointing counsellors at all schools to advise school-leavers and drop outs to choose their interested vocation. These proposed concepts, if endorsed by the Government and implemented through a sustainable program, will without a doubt herald an era of unity, prosperity and progress. My sincere wishes go out to Richard and his team of educationalists to succeed in their endeavour to implement these noteworthy, progressive initiatives.”
De Zoysa, who is the grandson of Francis de Zoysa K.C., who actively fought for the independence of Ceylon, and the first cousin of the late Richard Manick de Zoysa, who was brutally murdered for his firm convictions, has already written to the President and outlined the importance of these initiatives. Pursuing a career in industrial and commercial security at a very early age, de Zoysa built up a reputation for finding solutions to complex security problems faced by the private sector. At present he is on the threshold of perfecting a booking engine and review site exclusively for the very best in the hospitality sector.
“I am hopeful that the President will endorse these as areas that are of vital importance for the future prosperity of all Sri Lankans,” said de Zoysa while speaking at the event.
“The people of Sri Lanka are as important as the Government since it is essential that we have all got to be involved in the implementation of policy. Therefore it is imperative that they are made aware of the ripple benefits that future generations will derive, if all of these three initiatives are implemented. The President, the Government and Parliament are called upon to recognise the importance of English education for all, ethics being taught from Preschool to Year 3 in Primary School and counselling being made available in each and every school to direct school dropouts towards an interested vocation.
Language Matters Executive Director Dr. Leonie Solomons, speaking at the occasion, said that language was prima facie, a regulatory activity for it is the medium of communication amongst the people of a country.
“Language is a particularly sensitive variable when a country’s communication set (speaking, listening, reading and writing) takes place in more than one tongue and it underpins the identity of its multi-ethnic population and its national economic performance.”
English is arguably the most important language that links the citizens of the world. It is also the commercial and IT language which is most commonly used across the world. Sri Lanka inherited this legacy during the British rule and the visionary way forward was to keep it in place as the common medium of instruction and communication.
“The mother tongue should be made mandatory as an advanced subject and used to converse freely by choice. It is of the utmost importance that our racial identity and heritage is preserved, but English cannot be ignored if we are to progress.”
Zoysa said that his fervent hope was that the NEF would ideally be enacted through a statute and given the status of a Government-approved charity. He is confident that benefactors from around the world, the corporate sector, which faces a severe dearth in English qualified employees, and all Sri Lankan citizens will support this cause with an abundance of faith and enthusiasm.
“I envisage that 14 years of dedicated commitment with two years to build the concept will make this a reality,” he said. The NEF will have seven trustees and seek the approval of Parliament to enact by statute this entity as an approved agency to receive donations nationally and internationally. The Board of Trustees will include two nominees from Parliament and five professionals who will harness all available resources and plot a visionary plan for English education which will be made available in all parts of the island. Teacher training will be the most important aspect of the program.
With regards to the teaching of ethics, a five-year syllabus for ethics will be compiled and be taught in nursery and up to Year 3 in primary schools. The ethics program will be conducted with a well-written syllabus and is a one-time cost and can be taught by trained English teachers in their mother tongue, if not in English.
Ethics is based on good moral principles and will be reflected in the behaviour of those who are fortunate to learn it at a young age. Therefore, it is beneficial to the child if ethics is introduced as a subject at the preschool level as a child’s personality and character develops right up to the age of seven.
“Thereafter, you cannot alter who they are. It must be made mandatory that all children are taught ethics, proper manners, good habits and personality development from the inception at the preschool level. This should run concurrently with English education.”
With respect to vocational training, a panel of three counsellors will be appointed in every school with the approval of the Ministry of Education to advise school dropouts to pursue their chosen vocation.
“All students who attend primary school are not going to complete their Advanced Level. Some will not even sit the Ordinary Level,” he said.
A system to monitor every student who leaves school right up to securing employment or being self-employed should be in place, de Zoysa stated.
“In other words, the wellbeing of each and every school-leaver will be monitored. I wish to reiterate the fact that every one of us must realise the importance of laying a firm foundation to structure all of these three concepts.”
The vocational training program for school-leavers or dropouts needs common software and minimal costs to be sustainable. It is de Zoysa’s ambition that this all-important concept will be an example to the whole world.
De Zoysa stressed the fact that the foundation lay with the Government.
“Without the Government endorsing our long-term vision, these initiatives will not see the light of day. When it is clearly established that these projects are a distinct reality, I am confident that apart from the Government, local benefactors, the corporate sector, foreign governments and other donors will contribute adequately.”
The NEF will also generate its own funds by conducting seminars, professional training and operating English centres in every district.
With regards to structuring the foundation to take this initiative forward, de Zoysa said that the Board of Trustees would include educationalists with a long-term vision and a track record of visionary planning and practical implementation, three nominees from the Government, as well as a representative from the Auditor General’s Department to maintain stringent accounting procedures in this national and public enterprise. A working CEO and support staff with dynamic consultants who can drive and sustain these magnanimous concepts will complete the Board of Management.