ONUR launches language facilitators’ pool website

Thursday, 25 August 2016 00:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



The Office for National Unity & Reconciliation (ONUR) in partnership with the Department of Official Languages launched the website for Bilingual and Trilingual Resources Pool, which allows public institutions to have access to qualified translators in ensuring language rights of all citizens.

The inability for any citizen to be able to communicate with public institutions in their language of choicehas been a challenge for over six decades and the initiative has now paved the way for public institutions to fulfill this obligation, to re-affirm the commitment of Government of Sri Lanka to serve all citizens with respect and dignity.

The Cabinet has approved the establishment of a bilingual/trilingual resource pool to facilitate the working of the Government in both National Languages. After a competitive examination, 300 bilingual/trilingual resource persons have been selected from across the country. ONUR, which has been established with a mandate for promoting and providing for a society that respects rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms, justice, equality, inclusivity and diversity to achieve lasting reconciliation in Sri Lanka, has worked closely with Ministry of National Languages, Coexistence and Dialogue, Department of Official Languages and Public Administration Ministry in making this initiative a success.

The Department of Official Languages, from now onwards, is expected to be managing standards and adding value from time to time in the provision of these services through the Bilingual/Trilingual Resources Pool in ensuring that public institutions are supported in having access to language resources.

The resource pool can now be accessed via the website www.bashawa.lk. Office for National Unity and Reconciliation Chairperson Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga said: “Many decades ago, firstly the demand of the Tamil people was the language rights, parity of status, equal status for two languages; and thereafter the continuing refusal to resolve this problem by all governments lead to more frustration and anger which was fuelled by discriminatory actions and restricted opportunities, willingly or unwillingly, snowballed in to a point of culminating in a terrible, ruthless war that destroyed the country in many fronts”

“In most government departments and ministries, for a long time, we did not have a single person who could communicate in Tamil language; the government is now very serious about facilitating the government institutions to have sufficient officers to work in Tamil language.” “This may be a small initiative but this is the first time that in post-independent Sri Lanka, a government has taken an effort to create an enabling environment to allow citizens to communicate with the government, in their language of choice. Language is a crucial tool for human communication,” Kumaratunga added. ​

Minister of National Languages, Coexistence and Dialogue Mano Ganesan said: “Implementation of the language policy, addressing the language related issues and implementing them in a real time basis will be a prelude to solving more than half of the ethnic problems.”

“A cabinet paper has been put forward to relook at the selection criteria of recruitment in to government services where there will be further motivation for learning new languages,” he added.