Sharing Learnings and Experiences to enhance implementation of Official Languages Policy by Public Service Institutions

Technical exchange missions between Treasury Board Canada – Official Languages Secretariat & National Languages Division, Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government

The National Languages Division of the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government is mandated by the Government of the Sri Lanka to implement the Official Languages Policy (OLP)  of Sri Lanka. One of the milestones for the National Languages Division in 2021 was the approval of its Strategy Framework for the Implementation of the Official Languages Policy in the first quarter of 2021. Throughout the latter half of 2021, inspite of the challenges posed by COVID-19 Travel restrictions, the National Languages Division has been making great strides in the implementation of the approved Strategy Framework. With OLP Strategy Implementation well underway, the Technical Exchange Mission (TEM) planned for the officials of the National Languages Division with the Treasury Board of Canada  became an urgent and pressing need. Hilaire Lemoine (Language Policy Advisor-NLEAP) worked in close consultation with the Ministry Officials and Carsten Quell Executive Director of the Treasury Board of Canada) to develop a TEM that would enable the Ministry team to learn and share experiences with its Canadian Counterparts on challenging aspects of Implementation; Building Official Languages Accountability, Developing Language Plans, Preparing Annual Report and Designating Focal Points. The first two sessions of the Technical Exchange Mission, Accountability and Language Planning, were completed in the last quarter of 2021. Though travel restrictions compelled the Technical Exchange Mission to be conducted online, versus the originally planned visit to Canada, the online medium opened the opportunity for a greater number of participants from Canada and Sri Lanka to engage in the learning experience, making for a fruitful and meaningful enterprise.

The first Virtual Technical Exchange Mission, General Information and Overview of Accountability, led by Carsten Quell, was held on the 8th of December. The presentation by Mr. Quell provided an insightful overview related to the functional aspects of the Treasury Board Canada and its relevance to the Sri Lankan context. The Second Exchange Mission conducted on the 17th of December focused on the crucial aspect of Language Plans. This session was again led by Carsten Quell in partnership with Marie Madeleine Chourouba (Manager, Engagement and Stakeholder Relations ) & Hocine Toulait (Senior Policy Analyst), all from the Treasury Board Canada – Official Languages Secretariat. The session was of particular interest to the Language Division Team that is currently involved in training selected number of model Public Service Institutions across the island on developing and implementing Language Plans. The discussions following both sessions allowed participants to engage more fully as discussions centered on how the experiences of Treasury Board Canada might be relevant to the Sri Lankan context and the challenges that might be faced with localized realities.

Once the next two sessions of the TEM are completed, NLEAP will work with the Ministry Team to develop a Transfer of Technology plan that incorporates the lessons learned and the practices that can be adapted to the local context. The Technical Mission is part and parcel of the Technical Assistance that NLEAP provides to the Ministry to support the Implementation of the Official Languages Policy of Sri Lanka.