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Kaduwa or Manne? Issues and Tensions Related to Bilingual Education Policy in Sri Lanka

Author:

Vivimarie Vanderpoorten Medawattegedera

The Open University of Sri Lanka, LK
About Vivimarie
Department of Language Studies, The Open University of Sri Lanka
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Abstract

Policies related to language have had far reaching consequences for social inequality in Sri Lanka as they have had in many other postcolonial nations. Consequently, language policy, specifically language in education policy has been frequently mobilized in efforts to address social inequality, with varying degrees of success. This paper focuses on a decade of implementation of such a policy that was conceptualized to address inequality - the bilingual education (BE) policy of 2002 initiated primarily in order to effect changes in language learning and thereby deal with issues of inequality based on differences in levels of language proficiency. Utilizing a methodology that includes document analysis, focus group interviews and semi structured interviews with important stakeholders in the bilingual education project this study attempts to report on the status of an initiative after more than ten years of its implementation, with regard to attitudes, issues and challenges. It was revealed that unresolved tensions to do with the demand and clamour for English due to its market value and the forces of globalization on one hand and the struggle to maintain a national and local identity on the other are reflected both in the circulars and in the structural and attitudinal factors related to implementation. The study revealed the emergence of a new ‘elite’ group among students, those who, because they study in the ‘English medium’ see themselves as superior and distance themselves from the mother tongue medium students, and the ineffectiveness of ministry circulars and campaigns to position English as a tool rather than a weapon
How to Cite: Medawattegedera, V.V., (2015). Kaduwa or Manne? Issues and Tensions Related to Bilingual Education Policy in Sri Lanka. OUSL Journal. 8, pp.39–50. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/ouslj.v8i0.7317
Published on 02 Oct 2015.
Peer Reviewed

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