‘English as a life skill’ project gathers pace

President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched the second phase of the ‘English as a Life Skill’ programme at Temple Trees this week. The Presidential project is an initiative to improve speaking and communicative skills in English throughout Sri Lanka.

An awareness programme for all principals and education officers was also held at the event. As part of the second phase, President Rajapaksa launched a certificate course in Basic English and a public exam for a certificate in Basic English to be conducted by the Commissioner-General of Examinations. A team of Sri Lankan trainers had designed the course.

The first phase of the initiative started in June last year. Sixty per cent of the 22,500 English teachers of the country were trained to teach communicative English to students during the first phase. The rest will undergo training in the second phase.

A group of 80 ‘master trainers’ in spoken English from all nine provinces sharpened their skills at the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) in Hyderabad.

School English syllabi were examined by the National Institute of Education, Commissioner General of Examinations and the ‘master trainers’ to ensure that the standard of the content is not beyond the learner’s capability.

A comprehensive teacher guide for spoken English has also been developed as part of the project.
The Education Ministry has set up a special Presidential Programme Unit (PPU) to work along with the Presidential Task Force and the Presidential Secretariat.

While the first phase focused on reaching the schoolchildren, the second phase aims at improving the communicative English skills of public servants, job seekers and school drop-outs.

The Ministry aims to focus also on testing the listening and speaking skills of students at the O Level examinations to be held from 2012. Currently, only the reading and writing skills are evaluated at the exam.

The testing tools will be developed by India’s National Institute of Education (NIE) and Sri Lanka Centre for English Language Training (SLICELT) in collaboration with the Commissioner-General of Examinations.

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