KEY STRATEGIES (2018-2022)

To ensure consistent exchange, understanding and synergistic implementation of the Sri Lankan Official Languages Policy, several ministries and institutions will be engaged in the project, in addition to a breadth of civil society organizations. In such a manner, NLEAP will contribute to assuring a robust accountability mechanism for all contributors to OLP implementation within the country, including annual reporting by the Official Languages Commission (OLC) to the Sri Lankan parliament.

Language Policy Strategies

Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Offices and Local Government

The ministry will become a Centre of Excellence for the implementation of the OLP by strengthening its capacity to coordinate, facilitate and support its affiliated institutions, the National Institute of Language Education and Training (NILET) and the Department of Official Languages (DOL), as well as the Parliamentary entity, the Official Languages Commission (OLC), in the implementation of their Official Languages plans developed in an inclusive manner. It will also support the development and delivery of quality Official Languages plans by the following key ministries and their institutions in selected geographic areas:

  • Ministry of Home Affairs: District secretariats and bilingual divisional secretariats
  • Ministry of Public Administration and Law and Order: Public Service Commission, Sri Lanka Institute for Development Administration, police stations of the Sri Lanka Police Service
  • Ministry of Health: selected hospitals and community health centres
  • Ministry of Justice: Magistrates, District Courts and High Courts of Sri Lanka
  • Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government and Sports: provincial councils, local authorities

The Ministry will also support, through the University Grants Commission (UGC), the delivery of a Bachelor of Arts Translation Degree Programme in four universities (Jaffna, Kelaniya, Sabaragamuwa and the fourth university to be determined) and the development of a Diploma Programme in Interpretation in one of its partner universities.

Department of Official Languages (DOL)

Through realization of goals set within the NLEAP Programme, the DOL will become the recognized institution responsible for all translation and interpretation services within Sri Lanka. It will improve its capacity to deliver on its unique mandate by: (i) increasing staffing of cadre positions; (ii) providing better in-service training; (iii) developing additional translation and interpretation resources; (iv) implementing an enhanced governance/operational structure that better reflects its mandate. The DOL will work with the broader government to have translation and interpretation accorded the status of professional services, hence elevating their status and yielding improved recruitment, better remuneration and more favorable employment conditions. The DOL will improve the quality of translation through a digitally-enabled Translation Centre, provide all glossaries and dictionaries online, and establish a quality control unit for monitoring translation activities in the Central, Provincial and Regional Offices. The DOL will host internship Programmes for students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts Translation Degree Programmes offered in the four universities, as well as for students enrolled in the Diploma Interpretation Programme.

Official Languages Commission (OLC)

OLC will strengthen its governance in order to deliver on its mandate through an organizational restructuring that includes the development of three specific units: (i) communications and media, to ensure public knowledge of and compliance with the OLP; (ii) thematic studies and assessments, to measure and improve awareness and compliance; (iii) complaints management, audits and adjudication process. OLC will submit an Annual Report to Parliament on the status of OLP implementation within government institutions, the quality of services provided, complaints received and acted on, client satisfaction and recommendations for future action. Currently reporting through the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Offices and Local Government, the OLC will propose a direct reporting line to Parliament, affording it greater independence.

National Institute of Language Education and Training (NILET)

NILET will become a recognized Language Learning and Training Institute for public officers by providing enhanced second language training in Sinhala and Tamil. It will provide language training through existing training centres in central and provincial locations as well as other designated facilities such as Language Societies, and will adopt measures that reduce barriers to women public officers’ participation. NILET will provide technical support and advice to senior officials of key ministries/institutions for preparing language training plans, conducting pre-evaluation and placement tests, establishing higher levels of proficiency and finalizing selection of officials for language training. In governance, NILET will ensure a more effective Management Board and Academic Board with members reflecting the diverse nature of Sri Lankan society including proportional representation of women, geography, ethnicity and language.


Taking into consideration a broader human rights framework, NLEAP will maintain a specific focus on gender equality, ensuring robust analysis of gender considerations and opportunities throughout elements of OLP application and specifically build on the three Gender Equality Results underpinning Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy:

  • Enhance the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls;
  • Increase the participation of women and girls in equal decision making, particularly when it comes to sustainable development and peace;
  • Give women and girls more equitable access to and control over the resources they need to secure ongoing economic and social equality.

The NLEAP Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment (GEWE) Strategy is firmly grounded in the enjoyment of human rights as enshrined in international conventions, and specifically the right to non-discrimination in the ability to access social justice and services; this is particularly true regarding front line services in health (hospitals, clinics, first-responders), justice (courts) and security (police) services. Gender-based discrimination permeates all cultures; NLEAP will focus on the specific features of the Sri Lankan institutions with which it engages relative to laws, policies, procedures and practices at the national, provincial, district and divisional levels.

NLEAP Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy

Sri Lanka recognizes the right to language as a fundamental right of all women and men but women and men in Sri Lanka have diverse experiences in the realization of their language rights impacted by ethnicity as well as social and economic standing.

The distinction between women and men in realizing their language rights creates unequal situations in terms of participation in policy making, policy and program implementation and service delivery, and access to services and benefits. These inequalities often discriminate against women, jeopardizing women’s full participation in and access to all spheres where working and interacting in the language of one’s choice is a key factor. These include education and training, economic activity and benefits (including access to employment and independent income), health care and nutrition, issues related to family services (including property, inheritance and marriage), protection from social discrimination as well as protection from gender-based violence. These discriminatory distinctions arise primarily due to the lack of understanding of and focus on the need to mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment in promoting language rights which stems from gender insensitive policy making, trickling down to gender neutral programs and service delivery.

The Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy (GEWE Strategy) of NLEAP stems from commitments enshrined in the Constitution of Sri Lanka as well as commitments to national and international instruments promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. This Strategy is strengthened by the commitments to Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) which seeks, among other commitments, to promote gender equality and help empower all women and girls as the most effective approach to reducing poverty and building a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world. The FIAP sees gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as the core area of Canada’s international assistance.

NLEAP recognises that gender equality refers to women and men and appreciates the need to analyse, understand and address issues of marginalisation and exclusion experienced by women and men due to diverse sociocultural reasons that impact their full enjoyment of language rights. NLEAP also recognises that women in particular experience further marginalisation and exclusion in comparison to men – women as a homogenous group as well as in their diversity stemming from ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, their socio-economic status and the geographic area and community in which they live. This understanding of gender dimensions and issues of women’s empowerment when considering language rights in Sri Lanka prompts NLEAP to take a two-pronged approach to equality – gender equality and a specific focus on women’s empowerment.

Mainstreaming GEWE is crucial because it supports the comprehensive integration of rights-based issues into all functions and activities of the project. The GEWE Strategy will follow a three step GEWE mainstreaming process as follows:

Step 1: Reaffirm commitments and strengthen capacity to mainstream GEWE

Mainstreaming is about change – in this case about helping partner organizations change the way they address rights-based issues in order to create an inclusive environment. This step aims to refresh and update technical and institutional capacity to ensure mainstreaming of GEWE in promoting language rights.

Step 2: Apply commitments and strengthened capacity to mainstream GEWE

Once partner organizations – including both government and civil society organizations – have refreshed their levels of sensitivity and awareness as well as increased their capacity to mainstream GEWE, they will be ready to apply this capability and ensure mainstreaming of GEWE to the implementation of their internal policies, principles, plans and guidelines, projects and activities including service provision. Efforts in Step 2 will support this GEWE integration process and to integrate GEWE into ongoing programs and activities as well as those to be conducted with NLEAP support.

Step 3: Institutionalization of mainstreaming GEWE

Step 3 is the final step that marks the completion of the process and full mainstreaming of GEWE into language rights programming by partners as a rights-based issue within partner organizations. However, the changes within the organization and the process to address the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment must be maintained and sustained. Project activities during Step 3 will ensure that promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment is institutionalized.

The GEWE Strategy focuses on the ultimate outcome of NLEAP: reduced poverty and improved economic and social equality of Tamil and Sinhala speaking women and men throughout Sri Lanka, as well as the intermediate outcomes, Strengthened effectiveness of gender-sensitive bilingual public services, Enhanced acceptance by Sri Lankan men and women of the cultural diversity and bilingual nature of their country and Strengthened implementation of the Sri Lankan Official Languages Policy by government actors in a gender sensitive manner that promotes women’s empowerment.


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