Richard de Zoysa an established Corporate, who currently heads Elite Security Lanka, together with a group of civic minded professionals, religious leaders and educationists, presented to the media and the distinguished gathering present, three National Initiatives – namely English, Ethics and Vocational Training, which if set into motion, will auger well for the future prosperity of this country and it’s people.
Firmly convinced that every student in Sri Lanka should be proficient in English, de Zoysa launched the National English Foundation [ NEF ] in the year 2000 with the support of former Minister Ravi Karunanayake, only to be handicapped with a premature government change. He feels that he has got a second wind with a new President who he believes will give momentum to this initiative.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who was unavoidably detained in Anuradhapura sent his best wishes for the success of these three proposed National Initiatives. “I regret my inability to attend due to an unavoidable engagement in Anuradhapura. I commend the proposed projects, English proficiency for all students, a 5 year syllabus for Ethics as a subject and appointing Counselors in all schools to advise school leavers and drop outs to choose their interested vocation. These proposed concepts if endorsed by the government and implemented through a sustainable programme, will without doubt herald in an era of unity, prosperity and progress. My sincere wishes go out to Richard and his team of Educationalists to succeed in their endeavour to implement these noteworthy, progressive initiatives”.
de Zoysa who is the grandson of Francis de Zoysa K.C., a true patriot who actively fought for the Independence of Ceylon and the first cousin of the late Richard Manick de Zoysa, who was brutally murdered for his firm convictions, has already written to the President and outlined the importance of these initiatives.
Pursuing a career in Industrial & Commercial Security at a very early age, de Zoysa built himself a reputation of finding solutions to complex security problems faced by the private sector. At present he is on the threshold of perfecting a booking engine and review site exclusively for the very best in the hospitality sector.
“I am hopeful that the President will endorse these as areas that are of vital importance for the future prosperity of all Sri Lankans”, said de Zoysa speaking at the event. “The people of Sri Lanka are as important as the Government since it is essential that we have all got to be involved in the implementation of policy. Therefore it is imperative that they are made aware of the ripple benefits that future generations will derive, if all of these three initiatives are implemented. The President , the Government and Parliament are called upon to recognise the importance of English education for all , Ethics being taught from preschool to Year 3 in Primary School and Counseling made available in each and every school to direct school dropouts to an interested vocation.
Dr Leonie Solomons, Executive Director, Language Matters, speaking on the occasion said that Language is prima facie, a regulatory activity for it is the medium of communication amongst the people of a country. “Language is a particularly sensitive variable when a country’s communication set (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) takes place in more than one tongue and it underpins the identity of its multi-ethnic population and its national economic performance”.
English, arguably is the most important language that links the citizens of the world. It is also, probably, the commercial and IT language that is commonly used world wide. Sri Lanka inherited this legacy during the British rule and the visionary way forward was to keep it in place as the common medium of instruction and communication. “The mother tongue should be made mandatory as an advanced subject and used to converse freely by choice. Our racial identity and heritage must be preserved with utmost importance, but English cannot be ignored if we are to progress”. It is de Zoysa’s fervent hope that the National English Foundation ideally, will be enacted by statute and given the status as a government approved charity. He is confident that benefactors from around the word, the corporate sector who face a severe dearth of English qualified employees and all citizens of Sri Lanka will support this cause with an abundance of faith and enthusiasm. I envisage that 14 years of dedicated commitment with 2 years to build the concept would make this a reality”. The National English Foundation would have seven Trustees and seek approval of the Parliament to enact by statute this entity as an approved agency to receive donations nationally and internationally. The Board of Trustees would include two nominees from Parliament and five professionals who will harness all available resources and plot a visionary plan for English education which will be made available in all parts of the island. Teacher Training will be the most important aspect of the program.
With regards to the teaching of Ethics, a five year syllabus for Ethics will be compiled and would be taught in nursery schools and up to Year 3 in primary schools. The Ethics program will be conducted with a well written syllabus and is a one time cost and can be taught by the trained English teachers in their mother tongue, if not in English. Ethics is based on good moral principles and will be reflected in the behaviour of those who are fortunate to learn these at a young age. Therefore it is beneficial to the child if Ethics as a subject is introduced at preschool level as a child’s personality and character develops right up to the age of 7 years. “Thereafter, you cannot alter who they are. It must be made mandatory that all children are taught ethics, proper manners, good habits and personality development from the inception at pre-school level. This should run concurrently with English education”.
With respect to Vocational Training, a panel of three Counselors will be appointed in every school with the approval of the Ministry of Education to advise school dropouts to pursue their chosen vocation. “All students who attend Primary School are not going to complete their Advanced Level, some would not sit even the Ordinary Level”. A system to monitor every student who leaves school right up to securing employment or being self employed should be in place. “In other words the well being of each and every school leaver will be monitored. I wish to reiterate the fact that every one of us must realise the importance of laying a firm foundation to structure all of these three concepts”. The Vocational Training Program for school leavers or drop outs needs common software and minimal costs to be sustainable. It is de Zoysa’s ambition that this all important concept will be an example to the whole world.
De Zoysa stressed the fact that the foundation is the Government . “Without the Government endorsing our long term vision, these initiatives will not see the light of day. When it is clearly established that these projects are a distinct reality, I am confident that apart from the government, local benefactors , the corporate sector , foreign governments and other donors will contribute adequately”. The NEF will also generate it’s own funds by conducting seminars , professional training and operating English Centers in every district.
With regards to structuring the foundation to take this initiative forward, de Zoysa said that the Board of Trustees would include educationalists with long term vision and a track record for visionary planning and practical implementation, three nominees from the government, as well as a representative from the Auditor General’s Department to maintain stringent accounting procedures in this National and Public enterprise. A working CEO and support staff with dynamic consultants who can drive and sustain these magnanimous concepts will complete the Board of Management.