‘Dividends of ICT must be taken to the village in Sinhala and Tamil’
“‘If the dividends of ICT are to be taken to every village, every
citizen and every business’ it has to be done in Sinhala and Tamil,”
said ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) Board Member and Local Language
Initiative (LLI) Chairman Dr. R. B. Ekanayake, said while participating
at a multi-pronged launch that took place at Jaic Hilton, Colombo
ICTA CEO Reshan Dewapura presenting J.Yogaraj a memento in
appreciation of work done on Tamil and ICT Ubuntu interface
in Sri Lankan Tamil
Presenting an overview of the LLI during the past seven years Dr.
Ekanayake said, ‘If the dividends of ICT are to be taken to every
village, every citizen…’ it had to be done in Sinhala and Tamil.
Explaining the rationale for the LLI Dr. Ekanayake said: “Most people in
Sri Lanka use Sinhala and Tamil.
Most are not conversant in English. English is necessary but learning
a foreign language takes time. The ICTA Local Language Initiative (LLI)
therefore had to be implemented immediately after ICTA was set up”.
This implementation took place and in the recent past several
projects have been completed under ICTA’s “Local Language Initiative”
and the event was held to launch the following:-
a. The third revision of the Sri Lanka Sinhala Character Code for
Information Interchange which has been approved by SLSI as a Sri Lanka
Standard, SLS 1134 : 2011. This version includes encoding for Sinhala
numerals. This is to be launched in partnership with the Sri Lanka
Standards Institution (SLSI).
b. Six new stylized Sinhala fonts have been designed by the trainees
who underwent ICTA’s font development training. – There has been
resistance from various sectors towards using Unicode fonts citing the
fact that only “serious” Unicode fonts were available. Now several
Unicode Sinhala fonts of different styles have been developed.
c. A new Unicode Tamil font ‘Sri Tamil’ .
d. Six new stylized Tamil fonts - “Chemmoli” series.
e. A book on how to develop Sinhala and Tamil fonts.
f. A keyboard driver for using Apple Mac with a Unicode Sinhala font
- Mac Bhashitha.
Presenting of certificates to font developers and tokens of
appreciation to Local Language Working Group (LLWG) also took place on
A certificate was given to those who developed stylized Sinhala
Unicode fonts. This font development took place under the training on
Developing Unicode Local Language Fonts that ICTA held in partnership
with the University of Colombo School of Computing.
The font developers who thus received certificates were: Nirmali
Kaushalya Allahendra for the font ‘Puskola Potha’, Nirmala Handapangoda
– for the font ‘NYH’, Warna Somaratna for the font ‘Warana, and Winne
Hettigoda for the fonts–‘Winnie’ and ‘Winnie 1’ and Sushikshita
Sasirichandra de Silva for the font ‘SS – Sulakna’.
A memento was given to the members of the Local language Working
Group for providing direction and policy for ICTA’s Local Language
Initiative, during the past seven years.
The present LLWG members’ Dr. R. B. Ekanayake (Chairman), Prof. V.
Kumar, Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe, Channa de Silva, Prof. Gihan Dias,
Dineesha Ediriweera, G. Balachandran, Dr. Sandagomi Coperahewa, Chamara
Dissanayake, Venerable Bhikkhu Mettavihari Thero, Harsha Wijaywardhana,
J. Yogaraj, Susil Maduwage and N. Sivakumaran.
Former LLWG Chairperson, Dr. Shahani Weerawarne, and former LLWG
members Mahesh Perera and Anura Tissera were among those who contributed
tremendously towards the success of the Local Language Initiative.
Late Professor and ICTA Chairman V. K. Samaranayake was the pioneer
in the field of development of the use of local languages in ICT. He
provided leadership to the arena of local languages in ICT. He was a
visionary on what should happen in the area.
Participating in the event, ICTA Board and LLI team member Professor
V. Kumar explained the key benefits that have accrued to users as a
result of the Local Language Initiative. “Thanks to the LLI, we are now
free from many of the past cumbersome procedures like having to send the
font to the recipient when emailing a local language document,” he said.
Addressing the audience on “Language trends over the years” Professor
J. B. Disanayaka showed how subjects that look highly academic could be
presented in a humorous way.
Narrating the development of the current 61-character Sinhala
alphabet the Professor said that as far as he knew the sangngakaya of ja
was found only in the word inju, a vocative case word.
Disseminating many a message in spite of a lighter vein the Professor
pointed out the importance of working out a standard method for
correctly transliterating in the Roman (English) script the Sinhala and
Tamil proper names and place names (e.g., Wellawatta, Kegalle).