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U.S. Embassy Helps Strengthen Education Across Southern Sri Lanka

November 14, 2012
Ambassador Sison congratulates English language micro-scholarship recipients at the Tangalle Access Center.

Ambassador Sison congratulates English language micro-scholarship recipients at the Tangalle Access Center.

On November 13, U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison visited several of the English language programs sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka’s Southern Province.  Ambassador Sison visited the Embassy-funded Access Center in Tangalle to observe how the micro-scholarship program has helped improve English language skills of young students, toured Ruhuna University in Matara to observe how American English language specialists are working to develop the university’s curriculum and work with local high schools, and met with a American Fulbright fellow who has just began work in Matara. 

At the Access Center, Ambassador Sison observed a class of O- and A-level students and handed out certificates to participants in the program. Congratulating students the Ambassador said, “The U.S. Government is happy to support you in improving your English language skills through the Access scholarships you have received.  English helps you to communicate better in this era of international commerce and opens new doors.” 

Since the introduction of the Access program in 2005, the U.S. Embassy has taught English to over 1,000 disadvantaged students in rural communities. Access currently teaches over 500 students in 11 centers around Sri Lanka and will expand to 16 centers with 700 students next year.  

At Ruhuna University, Ambassador Sison met the Vice Chancellor and the Embassy’s new English Language Fellow, one of three specialists currently in Sri Lanka.  Located at Ruhuna University, University of Rajarata, and South Eastern University, these Americans English language specialists work with university counterparts to improve English teaching curricula and the language skills of students and faculty.  The Embassy has sponsored 10 such English Language Fellows since 2005.  The Ambassador also met with a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant based in Matara, one of 5 American Fulbright fellows currently working in schools throughout Sri Lanka.  In addition, the Embassy is supporting university students throughout Sri Lanka by making available 10,000 free licenses to Englishtown software, including 200 licenses for faculty.  Taken together, these various programs represent the range of U.S. government commitment to the betterment of education in Sri Lanka and directly support efforts to develop Sri Lanka’s tri-lingual policy.

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