Presidential Initiative on English as a Life Skill was initiated with
the prime objective in promoting English speaking among schoolchildren.
This novel program has been launched to bring about a dramatic change in
English language teaching to promote Spoken English. It is a fact that
majority of students are incompetent to converse after studying English
for over ten years in school and President's initiative emerges to
overcome this deficiency.
It was a tendency that English language teaching even at present
context mainly focuses on guiding the learner to master linguistic
competence that is greater emphasis on reading and writing as was
followed in old English Course Texts series, more than communicative
English Every Day text series which came into practice lately
introduced oral communication basically. Pupil texts, work books dealt
with activities related to fluency, but the outcome was not desirable as
expected on the part of the learner. Therefore, much criticism is
levelled against ELT (English Language Teaching) field regarding the
failure to facilitate the learner in speaking the target language. This
may also be a common issue as well as in some other countries where
English is taught as a second language.
Whatever, it may be, taking some remedial measures to overcome this
poor competence in oral communicant is a vital need. It was not the mere
fault of the syllabus or ELT academics who designed the curriculum, but
the concept and objectives of communicative language teaching was not
absorbed and applied in the learning teaching situation in the
classroom. Besides exam-oriented testing and evaluation process hindered
the desired outcome - students cannot speak English outside the
classroom. Another fact is that the development and use of feedback
technique in the teaching of conversation is still a relatively
neglected area in communicative teaching. Even present text books
(Competency Level Based) which cover considerable amount of activities
that support oral communication may not reach stated goals and
objectives unless suitable school based assessment process introduced in
relation with the competency, speaking. As a matter of fact on-going
President's initiative is to address this issue in a pragmatic way and
this benefits the teacher and the learner in different perspectives.
Following the pilot project of ten day workshop on English speaking is
no doubt provides the teacher with professional and proficiency
development providing the teacher with adequate speaking techniques to
create a sound environment for the learner to focus on speaking and
listening in the classroom.
This program ought to meet its main objectives as it claims an
influential position with direct involvement of Presidential Task Force.
What is very important of this endeavour is to identify the loopholes in
the practice of communicative teaching and evaluation process not to
repeat any such draw back in the system again. On the other hand the
cooperation of ELT academics in this regard is paramount important at
the moment. Besides it is their duty to extend their cooperation to
achieve the expected goal of this endeavour which is essentially a
Media reported a few days ago that more than 150 deaths have occurred
so far due to dengue fever. It has begun to rear its ugly head in many
provinces which have become populous. It is ironical that hardly any day
passes without the reports of dengue fever. Are we not in a position to
find a solution to this social problem in spite of the fact that science
and technology has made a great impact on this modern society? It is
said that a developing country like Cuba has introduced an effective
solution to this problem. In the same way, the Government also informed
that a special type of bacteria has been produced and that it would be
available in the open market in due course. It may be effective or
ineffective when it comes to solving this problem. But should we depend
on the Government itself for solving all problems as citizens? Is the
Government panacea for all economic and social ills?
As far as health problems are concerned, it is the bounden duty of
the people to be on the safe side. Vigilance, care and precaution should
be treated as the factors which help any one to be healthy on many
occasions. To say the least, people can keep clean the small portions of
land especially in the urban areas. Some politicians recently found
fault with the local government institutions like CMC and UC emphasising
the fact that it is the duty of these institutions to destroy the
mosquito breeding places everywhere in the country. But the fact remains
that social behaviour and the attitude of many people led to the
increase of this problem e.g. dumping of garbage haphazardly,
carelessness and indiscriminate throwing of empty cans and coconut
I am of the opinion that if we can cultivate good cultural habits
without joining the rat race of life then it will be beneficial to man
to lead a healthy life.
When Murali took his 800th Test wicket and when Sri Lanka beat India
convincingly by ten wickets the entire country certainly all Sri Lankans
all over the world stood together to cheer the Sri Lankan cricket team
What then is the secret of the phenomenon Murali? As he states in an
interview Murali life is forgetting and forgiving and moving on. Murali
in his classic style repeated what Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said 'no
future without forgiveness.'
Moreover Sri Lanka cricket despite all its faults is a role model for
our party politics. Although the team has persons from all most all the
communities in Sri Lanka today they play for Sri Lanka and not for
themselves and their communities, specifically from Sunday July 18 they
played as a team to beat India and say farewell to Murali. Can our party
politics take a leaf from our Sri Lankan cricket team?
Can the Foreign Affairs Ministry or Immigration Department clarify
the issue or use of an Emergency Passport?
Domiciled in the Sultanate of Oman with my family, I had recently
forwarded our Passports to a foreign Embassy in the UAE for the issue of
Visas. During this period my mother-in-law expired and my wife wished to
return to Sri Lanka. As our Passports were in the UAE, I approached the
Sri Lankan Embassy in Oman and requested for an Emergency Passport for
my wife to enable her to fly to Sri Lanka immediately.
The Counsellor K Mahalingham informed me that an Emergency Passport
could only be issued if a Passport was lost. He went on to add that if I
could get our Passports back from the UAE, he could cancel those
Passports and issue us with Emergency Passports - quite a dumb answer
from a civil servant! Of course we would not need Emergency Passports if
our Passports were returned from the UAE. Following this extremely
unhelpful attitude from the Sri Lankan Embassy, I telephoned the foreign
Embassy in the UAE and would you believe it, not only did they send us a
message of condolence, they also ensured that we had our Passports
returned to us within a few hours on that day, delivered to our
doorstep, a very gracious gesture which enabled us to fly home that
Are our civil servants familiar with their duties?
Today's road conditions in this island is deplorable. Every time I
take the wheel I am not sure if I would be coming back home in one
piece. The creeping and speeding buses, the three-wheelers, cyclists,
other vehicles and the pedestrians are becoming like animals on the
loose! Not to mention our roads are so narrow and not properly set up
for high speed driving!
Speaking about pedestrians, I notice that they walk across the busy
dark unlit streets wearing dark colour clothing. How do they expect the
motorists to see them?
The speeding bus drivers think that they own the roads and they come
straight at you from the opposite side trying to overtake.
I am suggesting that we all take photos of these violators and send
them to the relevant authorities - if that helps?