‘TESS to breakdown ethnic and other  differences and unify the nation

-Chief Justice Mohan Peiris


By Steve A Morrell

The English Speaking Schools, TESS, will be the ‘no – discrimination’ medium for equality among us, said Chief Justice Mohan Peiris as the  Chief Guest at the launch  TESS, The Teaching and Testing of English with the help of Information Communication Technologies. ( ICT) on Monday ( 3 ).

In a scholarly dissertation he alluded to the constitution of Sri Lanka specifically  Article 18 which he said inscribed  English to be the link language; simultaneously with the official languages of the country, Sinhala and Tamil. Implementation of the Mahinda Chinthana  as formulated, and its specific inference that English  and its  use should move to acceptance levels to relate to the modern concept of the global  village.

It was timely that launch of TESS had deep rooted meaning to an expansive perspective of unity in its true sense. The dichotomy of the private sector and public sector would for the first time be working together as a partnership undertaking, he said.

Earlier English was restricted to a privileged class of people who could afford to learn the language. The TESS, Chief Justice Peiris said would ensure lateral education and equal exposure to English to a wider school-going population. It would not relegate itself to a narrow group. The time had come to reinforce binding possibilities of understanding through the common use of English; and its broad based use.

English opened doors to the world. It was now of importance that the country could not restrict itself to ‘official’, languages, but had to recognize that there were immense opportunities beyond our shores. Access to such exposure was through English, the Chief Justice said. 

Minister of Education, Bandula Gunawardena  said the Government approved a sum  of Rs. 1.5 Billion for ICT, and expansion of English, and training of  English teachers.

He said initially about 1000 IT labs  would be established in a countrywide endeavour to implement English learning as an inclusive choice  encased in the Mahinda Chintana.

With global importance growing and Sri Lanka  moving into that context it was the government’s desire that the country was not left behind. The school going generation would now have equal opportunities  to identify with the on-going  possibilities.

Presidential Adviser/ Coordinator English, and Convener of the Presidential Task Force  on English and IT SAunimal Fernando said the  idea was born 137 years ago at the two Colleges  in Moratuwa. Prince of Wales College, and Princess of Wales College ( s ), initiated by Charles Henry de Soysa, who  was  acknowledged  as the greatest philanthropist of all time. Having founded the two Schools, in the ‘remote’ (at that time) township of Moratuwa, ,   he initiated education of English, and its unrestricted study to all desirous of learning the language.

Both schools prospered, but subject to continued assistance of the Founder, who gradually improved   infrastructure with additional class rooms and sundry facilities expected in such schools.

‘Now, both Schools have on their roll some 10,000 students who are not discriminated against, but learn English as everyone else does.

Director British Council Keith Davies, representing the British High Commissioner, and the UK, said support to the Sri Lankan Government dates back 60 years. The British council would  have no hesitation in supporting TESS.

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