– Background – Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission Report (LLRC)

The post-conflict Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission Report (LLRC) (2012) made the following recommendation relating to the Official Languages:

  • Every attempt must be made to create a sense of belonging among all the citizens irrespective of race,religion or social status.  It is imperative that the Official Languages Policy is implemented in an effective manner to promote understanding, diversity and national integration.
  • The full implementation of the language policy should include action plans broken down to community level, and appropriately covering the Divisions and Local Bodies with targets that can be monitored with citizen participation.
  • The learning of each other’s language should be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
  • Teaching Sinhala to Tamil children and Tamil to Sinhala children will result in greater understanding of each other’s culture.
  • The proper implementation of the language policy and insuring trilingual (Sinhala, Tamil and English) fluency for future generation becomes vitally important. To this end, necessary budgetary provisions must be made available on a priority basis for teacher          training and staffing.
  • Officers in Government services should possess language skills to serve in any part of the country.
  • It should be made compulsory for all Government offices to have Tamil speakers at all times.
  • The Official Languages Commission should be an authority with effective powers of implementation, and with branches in every Province.
  • Information technology should be promoted to overcome the language barrier. As a temporary measure, software programs should be used for translation from one language to the other, until long term policies and measures take effect.
  • Retired police officers with bilingual fluency should be used as station interpreters at Police Stations.

The language provisions of the Constitution as well as the recommendations of the LLRC reflect the vision of the people of Sri Lanka and its Government to create a society which promotes understanding, diversity and social cohesion, through the knowledge, respect and appreciation of each other’s language and culture. For this vision to become reality however, it needs to be translated into a set of objectives and initiatives which will make both Sinhalese and Tamil speaking communities feel well represented and well served by their government.

Await Part 3 – Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission Report (LLRC)

 

Hilaire Lemoine

Language Policy Advisor/NLEAP Special Advisor/Language Policy and International Relations,

Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI), University of Ottawa