Visiting Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao on Sunday inaugurated the India-Sri Lanka Centre for English Language Training (SLICELT) at a ceremony in Peradeniya, near Kandy.
A statement issued by the Indian mission here said that while speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Foreign Secretary recalled her association with the initiative, which went back to 2006 when she was the High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, and added that she was happy to see the initiative reach an important milestone as signified by the establishment of SLICELT.
She said that India was happy to be involved in an initiative that aimed at developing “tools of empowerment” for the ordinary people. She added that India was interested in a more intensive economic cooperation that led to a development of a balanced relationship between the two countries.
She referred to India and Sri Lanka as “sister countries”, which shared a “model, unique, and time-tested” relationship. Speaking of the high human development indicators in Sri Lanka, she felt that there was much for India to learn from Sri Lanka and stated that in this sense, relationship between India and Sri Lanka was one of “give and take”.
The ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Education, Susil Premajayanth, the Minister of Public Administration & Home Affairs and the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on English and IT, Sarath Amunugama, the Governor of the Central Province Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, the Chief Minister of the Central Province Sarath Ekanayake, Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka, Lalith Weeratunga, and the Indian High Commissioner Ashok Kantha and other senior officials of the Government of Sri Lanka and India.
Earlier on 3 September 2009, India and Sri Lanka had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of SLICELT on 3 September 2009.
Under the MoU, the Government of India has appointed the English and Foreign Language University (EFLU), Hyderabad as the Technical Consultant for the Project and funded the deputation of two experts from EFLU for a period of two years to work at SLICELT. In addition, a digital language laboratory has also been set up with Government of India’s assistance. Earlier in 2008 and 2009, Government of India had sent two batches of 40 English Language Master Teacher Trainers each from Sri Lanka for training at the EFLU under India’s International Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Scheme.
The SLICELT has been set up as a permanent institution in Sri Lanka to serve as a focal point for the teaching of English language and is part of the Sri Lankan Presidential Initiative of developing “English as A Life Skill” in Sri Lanka.
It will take the lead in upgrading the skills of the 400 strong cadre of English Language Master Trainers trained and developed under the Presidential Initiative to deliver Spoken English Teaching Skills to the 22,000 English teachers in government schools.
The SCICELT will also provide technical assistance to the Commissioner General of Examinations to develop Spoken English Testing Tools to be introduced at GCE Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations in 2011 and School Based Assessment (SBA) Tools for evaluating Spoken English Skills from grade 6 onwards.
Besides, it will provide technical assistance to the National Institute of Education (NIE) in developing English Syllabi, Curricula, Course Books and Teacher Guides placing emphasis on Listening and Speaking Skills in keeping with the objectives of the Presidential Initiative on ‘English as a Life Skill’. Further, the new Centre will also assist the Education Publications Division (EPD) of the Ministry in the publication of state-of-the-art course books on Spoken English for schools.