Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government

27th May 2024 07:01

Welcome to The Official Languages Commission

The Official Languages Commission was established by the Official Languages Commission Act No. 18 of 1991. The key task of the Commission is to regulate and supervise provisions relating to the language rights contained in Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Official Languages / Link Languages

The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala. According to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of 1978, Tamil shall also be an Official Language and English shall be the Link Language.

National Languages

The National Languages of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala and Tamil.

Right of a Member of the Parliament/Member of a Provincial Council/Member of a Local Government Institution

A member of Parliament or a member of a Provincial Council or a local authority shall be entitled to perform his duties and discharge his functions in Parliament or in such Provincial Council or local authority in either of the National Languages.

Medium of Instruction

A person shall be entitled to be educated through the medium of either of the National Languages.

If a course is conducted in a National Language in any higher educational institute, that course should also be conducted in the National Language for the students who have been educated by the other National Language.


Sinhala and Tamil shall be the languages of administration throughout Sri Lanka. Sinhala shall be the language of administration in all other provinces of Sri Lanka other than Northern and Eastern Provinces. A citizen should be entitled to exercise the rights and to obtain the services in the Official Language of his/her choice or in English from the public institutions.

Recruitment examinations for government service

A person is entitled to sit in the examination conducted to the admission of a person for public service in Sinhala or Tamil or in a medium of the language of his/her choice.

Task of legislation

All laws and subordinate legislations shall be enacted or made and published in Sinhala and Tamil together with a translation thereof in English.

Language of the Courts

Sinhala and Tamil shall be the languages of courts throughout Sri Lanka. Sinhala shall be used as the language of the courts situated in all other areas of Sri Lanka except those in any area where Tamil is the language of administration. English shall be the language of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

The service of a translator to a party that is unaware of language of the court shall be provided by the government.


Awareness Creation Programme for the Media Personnel

International Mother Language Day was established by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999, in response to a tragic event that took place in Bangladesh in 1952.

On February 21, 1952, students and activists in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) protested against the Pakistani government’s decision to impose Urdu as the only Official Language of the country. During the protest, police opened fire on the demonstrator’s, killing several of them.

The protest and the subsequent violence that followed became a turning point in the struggle for independence for East Pakistan, and it gave rise to a movement to promote the Bengali language and culture.

In 1999, the Government of Bangladesh proposed to UNESCO that February 21st be declared as International Mother Language Day to commemorate the events of 1952 and to promote linguistic and cultural diversity around the world. The proposal was accepted by UNESCO, and International Mother Language Day was first observed on February 21, 2000.

Marking International Mother Language Day, an awareness programme was organized by the Official Languages Commission for Electronic and Print media personnel about the proper usage of Mother Languages, on 19th of February 2024, at the Department of Government Information, Sri Lanka.

Mr. D.Kalansooriya (Attorney at Law), Chairman of the Official Languages Commission, the board member of the OLC, Senior Lecturer Prof. Sandagomi Cooperahewa – Head - Department of Sinhala, University of Colombo, the board member of the OLC Dr.Kavitha Rajaratnam, Head - Department of Linguistics, University of Kelaniya and Senior Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, Mr.Dhamminda Kumara were participated as resource persons and delivered speeches.

Feb. 19, 2024

Tamil Language Day

Tamil Language Day is commemorated annually in October and a special programme to mark this day was conducted on 28.10.2022 by the Official Languages Commission at Sri Lanka Foundation on the “objective of promoting language circles” in 22 Tamil schools covering the Colombo educational zone.

This programme was headed by Mr. M.M.P.K. Mayadunne – Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government and a special guest lecture on ‘the language circles and social development’ was delivered by Prof. S. Prashanthan, head of the Tamil education division in the University of Peradeniya.

The programme was colored by Tamil Cultural items presented by the schools participated in the programme. This programme had been organized to reflect the Tamil culture and the guests were honored according to the Tamil customs and Tamil symbols had also been exhibited there.

Oct. 28, 2022

Official Languages Week 2021 – Winners of the Essay Competition

Winners of the of the All Island Essay Competition held to commemorate Official Languages Week.

Over 1210 essays in Sinhala, Tamil, and the English language had been sent by school children for the All Island Essay Competition held in 2021 conducted by the Official Languages Commission in collaboration with the National Languages Equality Advancement Project (NLEAP) to mark the Official Languages Week which falls from 01st to 05th July in every year.

This essay competition was held on such an occasion where the Covid-19 pandemic had been badly spread out island-wide and we highly appreciate the very good response received from the students, their parents, and teachers for this essay competition.

The Panel of judges appointed for this essay competition consisted of language experts in the Universities and its decision was the final decision.

Essays submitted in Sinhala, Tamil and English languages were examined by Prof. Sandabomi Coperahewa (Sectional Head of the Faculty of Sinhala at the University of Colombo), Dr. Kavitha Rajaratnam (Senior Lecturer in the Linguistic Division of the University of Kelaniya) and Prof. S.G.S. Samarawera – Sectional Head of the Faculty of English in the University of Ruhuna) respectively.

Official Languages Commission and the National Languages Equality Advancement Project (NLEAP) warmly greet the winners of this essay completion who obtained first, second and third places in Sinhala, Tamil, and English mediums.

Sept. 8, 2022

The Official Languages Commission

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