In the post war scenario as Government seeks to bring about national reconciliation, the implementation of the official language policy which plays a key role in the success of the effort still lags far behind expected levels according to the most recent Language Resources Needs Assessment Survey conducted by the Official Languages Commission (OLC).
|The Official Languages Commission on Thursday launched several publications including a phrase book for the police. Here Canadian High Commissioner Bruce Levy who was the chief guest at the launch is seen receiving a set of the publications from Commission Chairman Raja Collure.
A striking factor of the survey which covered 50 state institutions was the fact there was a very low percentage of officers proficient in Tamil serving in the public administration sector.
The report revealed in areas outside the north and east the percentage of officers proficient in Tamil was 9.5%, compared with 18.1% officers proficient in Sinhala in the north and east.
Sinhala is the language of administration in areas outside the north and east while Tamil is the language of administration in these two areas.
For a Tamil speaking population of around 1.1 million in areas outside the two provinces, there was a total of only 6,626 officersproficient in Tamil at executive, subordinate and minor employee level or around 9.5%, while in the northern and eastern provinces for around 365,000 Sinhalese speaking persons, there were 540 officersproficient in Sinhalese at different levels or around 18.1%.
The institutions where language was found to be an obstacle to around 50% of members of the public questioned were, base hospitals, police stations, local authorities, head offices and Divisional and District Secretariats.
It was in issues like filling of forms and communication with state institutions that many of those surveyed faced hindrances. Even though in around 60% of state institution forms were printed in all three languages as the law stipulates, there were many institutions where this rule was not adhered to.
There was also low compliance with regard to the display of name and sign boards, direction boards and information displays in the two official languages.
The survey also found that the degree of awareness of the language policy among all categories of public servants/corporation employees is either poor or very poor and the same is true of members of the public who are unaware of their language rights.
The non-availability of physical resources such as typewriters and computers to produce documents in both official languages was another drawback.
Members of the public too were covered by the survey through eliciting responses on the basis of a questionnaire provided by the OLC.
The institutions covered included 16 local authorities, 14 Divisional Secretariats and five District Secretariats, six police stations, three public hospitals and five other state institutions.
The survey was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) while the physical survey was carried out by the officers of the OLC and the opinion survey by the Marga Institute. (CK)