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Colonialism and problems of language policy: formulation of a colonial language policy in Sri Lanka



The problems of language policy in modern Sri Lanka have their roots in the nineteenth century. The question of language came to the fore during the early nineteenth century when British administrators and missionaries debated what kind of language education policy should be introduced. The first official pronouncement relating to language policy in colonial Sri Lanka is to be found in the Colebrooke report on the Administration of the Government of Ceylon (1832), which made explicit the privileged position of English in the country. Linguistic imperialism was another consequence of colonial policy, and colonial ideologies were reflected in language education policies. However, there was no total agreement among the missionaries and colonial officials on policies relating to language-in-education and they continued to hold conflicting views. It is clear that the dual discourses of Orientalism (policies in favour of education in local languages) and Anglicism (policies in favour of education in English) continued to coexist alongside, and served the interests of the British colonial agenda. The introduction of English education in the nineteenth century had a profound long-term impact on the country's language policies and practices. This discussion of colonial language policies and practices reveals the historical origins of the language 1 This paper has been developed based 28 question in Sri Lanka and points to the general embeddedness of linguistic developments in colonial history.
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 27
Colonialism and Problems of Language
Policy: Formulation of a Colonial Language
Policy in Sri Lanka1
Sandagomi Coperehewa*
The problems of language policy in modern Sri Lanka have their
roots in the nineteenth century. The question of language came to the
fore during the early nineteenth century when British administrators and
missionaries debated what kind of language education policy should be
introduced. The first official pronouncement relating to language policy in
colonial Sri Lanka is to be found in the Colebrooke report on the
Administration of the Government of Ceylon (1832), which made explicit
the privileged position of English in the country. Linguistic imperialism
was another consequence of colonial policy, and colonial ideologies were
reflected in language education policies. However, there was no total
agreement among the missionaries and colonial officials on policies
relating to language-in-education and they continued to hold conflicting
views. It is clear that the dual discourses of Orientalism (policies in favour
of education in local languages) and Anglicism (policies in favour of
education in English) continued to coexist alongside, and served the
interests of the British colonial agenda. The introduction of English
education in the nineteenth century had a profound long-term impact on
the country’s language policies and practices. This discussion of colonial
language policies and practices reveals the historical origins of the language
1 This paper has been developed based on the PhD thesis ‘A Politics of language
in Colonial Sri Lanka, c.1900-1948’ submitted to the University of Cambridge, UK
* Senior Lecturer, Department of Sinhala, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 28
question in Sri Lanka and points to the general embeddedness of linguistic
developments in colonial history.
Keywords : Colebrooke-Cameron - Colonialism - Colonial Sri Lanka -
Education - Language policy
The beginning of the sixteenth century saw the first impact
of European colonial power on Sri Lankan society and culture. More
than four centuries (1505-1948)2 of colonialism changed the linguistic
situation in the island, and constituted a decisive phase in the
evolution of the country’s language policy and formal educational
system. While much has been written on the political and social
aspects of colonialism in Sri Lanka, little is known about the language
policies that came to be associated with colonial rule (De Silva,
1973). This paper is thus concerned with explaining the complexities
of colonial language policies and practices in relation to the different
contexts of British colonial power. The language policies pursued
by the British colonial government in the nineteenth century Sri Lanka
deserve detailed consideration because; it was during that time the
question of language elevated to a public question. Language
became an important aspect of government and missionary activity
of the colonial state. As we will see, difficulties of communication
posed a serious problem to all colonial rulers. The question of
language came to the fore during the early nineteenth century when
British administrators and missionaries debated what kind of
language education policy should be introduced. The dominance of
English as the language of governance was a common feature of
the period, but at the same time there were continuing efforts to
study and promote vernaculars. A close look at the colonial context
is necessary in order to understand the policies on such issues as
language in education, missionary activity and administration, which
evolved at this time and set the scene for subsequent developments.
This discussion of colonial language policies and practices reveals
2. The maritime regions of the island were under the Portuguese and the Dutch
and the whole island was under the British during the period 1815-1948.
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 29
the historical origins of the language question in Sri Lanka and points
to the general embeddedness of linguistic developments in colonial
To explore the social and political dimensions of the colonial
language situation, this paper is divided into two parts. In the first
part, my discussion will focus on the establishment of British rule
and the formulation of a language policy for education and
administration. I will examine, in particular, the influence of the 1832-
33 Colebrooke-Cameron reforms on the implementation of colonial
language policy in the nineteenth century, the efforts of the colonial
government to regulate language, and problems associated with
the use of local languages in administration. The second part shows
how colonial policies related to language-in-education are interwoven
with broader colonial discourses which were informed by conflicting
notions of Orientalism and Anglicism. This paper focuses heavily
on the disputes and deliberations over language policy which arose
in different colonial, missionary, educational and administrative
Socio - Historical Background
At the beginning of the European period in Sri Lanka, in the
early sixteenth century, there were three native centres of political
power: the two Sinhalese kingdoms of Kotte and Kandy and the
Tamil kingdom in northern Jaffna. From the point of view of political
power and size, the important one was the kingdom of Kotte (1412-
1580), about six miles from the port of Colombo. In 1505, the
Portuguese first arrived on the island and their original aim was
merely to establish a trading post under the protection of the
Sinhalese king. However, they were brought into local politics as a
result of developments in Kotte, which led to the partition of that
kingdom in 1521. The kingdom of Kotte was weakened due to the
increasing decline in central authority and the rising power of the
Portuguese (Abeysinghe, 1966). In 1557, the king of Kotte was
baptised as Don Juan Dharmapala (1551-1597), and he handed
over his kingdom to the Portuguese in 1581. The island’s coastal
region fell under Portuguese influence from 1505 to 1658, and they
were subsequently displaced by the Dutch, who emerged in the
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 30
early seventeenth century as a major naval power in the Indian
Ocean. During the period of Portuguese rule, the local languages –
Sinhala and Tamil – came into close contact with Portuguese
language. Portuguese was the language of administration. The
officials had to employ interpreters for communication with the local
inhabitants. The Dutch dealt with the problem of language in a
different way from the Portuguese. They did not succeed in
establishing their language as the official language, and their policy
to use Dutch along with other local languages (Sannasgala, 1976).
Both Portuguese and Dutch rule did not extend beyond the coastal
Finally, British rule in Sri Lanka began with their acquisition
of the Dutch territories in 1796. After a brief period of administration
by the East India Company the British possessions in Ceylon (which
it was then called) were placed under the Colonial Office in 1802.
Fredrick North assumed office as the first Governor of Ceylon in
1802, and the power of the coastal provinces was concentrated in
the hands of the Governor. In 1815, with the fall of the kingdom of
Kandy in the central highlands – the last Sinhalese kingdom – which
had maintained their independence under the kings of Kandy, the
British managed to bring the whole island of what they called Ceylon
under their political control. They soon embarked on a policy based
on introducing the English language, and this eventually brought
significant sociolinguistic changes.
Introduction of English in the Nineteenth Century
The history of the introduction of English dates back to the
earlier decades of the nineteenth century, and it is closely tied to
the presence of the British colonial administration and missionary
educators. From the start of British rule, the colonial administrators
stressed the value of English and Christianity. Fredrick North, the
first British Governor on the island (1798-1805) saw that there was
some immediate gain in propagating the language and religion of
the rulers, and therefore laid the foundation for a language policy
which linked the English language with an elite class (Ludowyk,
1966). Later on, Governor Edward Barnes (1820-1822) also stressed
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 31
the indelible link between the ‘civilizing’ mission and the promotion
of English:
Instruction in the English language should be promoted and
encouraged as much as possible, when the people would be
enabled to come more directly to the evidence of Christianity
than they are through the tardy and scanty medium of translations
(Quoted in Gooneratne, 1968: 5-6).
The colonial administrators realized the functional value of
English in the creation of a class of English-educated officials who
would serve as an essential link between the British rulers and the
masses. They seem to have expected English to spread gradually
and ultimately to become the language of the country. As one Civil
Servant later in 1849 pointed out, “it was formerly the policy of the
Government to make the natives learn English, rather than to make
the public servants learn Cingalese [Sinhala]” (Evidence of Major T.
Skinner, Select Committee, 1850: 294).
Colebrooke - Cameron Reforms, 1832-33 and English Diffusion
In 1829, the British Colonial Office sent a Royal Commission
of Eastern Inquiry led by W.M.G. Colebrooke and C.H. Cameron to
assess the administration of the island. In 1832, this Commission
made some far reaching recommendations in relation to the
administrative, economic, educational and social organization of Sri
Lanka (Mendis, 1956). Although the Commission’s purpose was
mainly focussed on administrative and judicial reforms, its
recommendations extended to language policy planning as well.
The first official pronouncement relating to language policy in colonial
Sri Lanka is to be found in the Colebrooke Report on the
Administration of the Government of Ceylon (dated 24 December
1831). Seeing the need for a common language for administrative
purposes, it made explicit the position of English as the language of
government. As a result, during the years 1832-33, the British
decided to encourage the use of English as the language of
administration, education and of the courts of law. A former judge of
the Ceylon Supreme Court observed: “It is significant that in Ceylon
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 32
the native languages are far less used than in India for the transaction
of public business, and in the law courts the proceedings are
conducted in English” (Clarence 1899: 439).
Colebrooke also believed that knowledge of English would
lead to the enhancement of the people of the island, and
consequently showed little interest in the local languages of the
people. He stressed the absolute value of the English language,
and further noticed the importance of ‘diffusing’ knowledge through
the English medium schools (Mendis, 1956: 215). As pointed out
by historian G.C. Mendis, in his proposals for the establishment of
English schools Colebrooke was “influenced by the view, held by
Englishmen at the time, that oriental learning was of little value and
that knowledge of English would lead to the moral and intellectual
improvement of the Eastern peoples” (Mendis, 1956: lxiii). In general
these policies and attitudes were not unique to Sri Lanka. In some
respects there were close parallels between colonial language
policies and practices in India, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong (see
Rahman, 1996; Pennycook, 1998; Evans, 2002; 2008; Mir, 2006).
Two years after the Colebrooke Commission, Lord Thomas
Macaulay’s famous ‘Minute on Education’ (1835) in India also echoed
this policy of imparting Western knowledge through a Western
language (English), and then only to a minority of the population
(See Phillipson, 1992; Evans, 2002). Macaulay had been sent to
India in an official capacity, knowing nothing about on the South
Asian languages and thus, one wonders whether Macaulay may
have been influenced by the Colebrooke Commission Report, which
seems very likely. In fact Colebrooke anticipated Macaulay’s idea
for India by seeking to create a group of natives who were competent
in English language.
Colonial Administration and Knowledge of Language
The language of government became crucial to the
development and maintenance of British colonial power. As pointed
by many historians ‘knowing the language’ was important for ‘social
communication’ and ‘colonial knowledge’ (See Cohn, 1985: Bayly
1996). In the early period of British rule, however, colonial officers
had very little knowledge of the island’s languages, customs, and
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 33
people. They believed that the English language was adequate for
their purposes and neglected the study of local languages. For
example, in 1804, according to Rev. Cordiner, only one British official
had mastered Sinhala, the language of the majority of the islanders
(Cordiner 1807: 119-120). In fact, during the early period of British
rule, one of the English Civil Servants, John D’Oyly (1774-1824),
who had a mastery of spoken and written Sinhala and who became
Chief Translator (1805-1816) to the government, carried out an
extensive system of intelligence work in Kandy in order to gain
information about the Kandyan kingdom (D’Oyly, 1917). Because
of his knowledge of the Sinhala language, D’Oyly was able to
communicate with every leading Kandyan chief hostile to the king,
and this was crucial to the development of colonial power in the
island (Perera, 1946: 56).
Since the majority of the civil officials generally knew neither
the language nor the customs of the native people, they depended
heavily on “native chieftains”, or mudaliyârs (who had been employed
by the Dutch), for administrative matters in rural areas (Schrikker
2007). In fact, the missionaries were actually much closer to the
people than were the civil officials. But it is important to mention that
there were a few exceptions. As early as 1805 Samuel Tolfrey of the
Civil Service, who came to the island in 1801 with D’Oyly, was
interested in Sinhala and designed a plan for a dictionary to render
assistance to Europeans in the learning of Sinhala for the transaction
of business in the different colonial offices. Another Civil Servant,
William Tolfrey assisted the work of Bible translators. In 1802,
regulations were drafted which made competency in local languages
mandatory for promotions within the Civil Service. Sinhala and
Portuguese were the languages in which proficiency was required.
Tamil was not considered necessary until 1813, and Portuguese
was given up in 1824 (Toussaint 1935). At this time, very little positive
action was taken to encourage the knowledge of local languages.
In the instructions issued on 18th January 1830 to the
Colebrooke Commission by the Earl of Bathurst, the Secretary State
for Colonial and War Department pointed out that “the introduction
of the English language in the Courts of Law, and in all public
proceedings, connects itself with this branch of your investigations”
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 34
(Mendis, 1956: 2). This term of reference appears to be an important
point in the formation of a language policy for colonial administration.
In 1833 the Colebrooke Report laid the foundation for an unified
administration in the country and envisaged a language policy for
colonial governance. Since the majority of the population was not
proficient in English, local languages were also used in a limited
way at the lower levels of administration. In Gamsabhâvas or Village
Committees, the local languages were used for proceedings, but
records were kept either in English or in the local language in use in
that division. The government ordinances were published in English
and Sinhala as well, and sent to the different agents to distribute
among the headmen. For administrative convenience the country
was divided up into nine provinces, each under the authority of a
Government Agent. In official discourse, the North and East
provinces were considered as ‘Tamil-speaking areas’ and the
provinces in the southern part as Sinhala-speaking areas.
In the early years of the British occupation the bulk of the
posts in the clerical service were filled by Burghers, who were
proficient in English language. Commenting on the ‘employment of
natives’, Colebrooke pointed out the lack of proficiency in English
of native officials within the administration:
The headmen at the seats of magistracy are generally acquainted
with the English language, but the Modeliars and the headmen
of Korales are often ignorant of it. In 1828 a regulation was made
that no native headman should in future be appointed who could
not read and write the English language (Mendis, 1956: 48).
Therefore, Colebrooke recommended that “a competent
knowledge of the English language should be required in the principal
native functionaries throughout the country” (Mendis, 1956: 70).
The linguistic proficiency of Sinhala and Tamil also became
a necessary condition for promotions in the Civil Service. Colebrooke
too stressed this point in his recommendations:
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 35
All Europeans who are selected to fill the Civil appointments in
the Provinces should be required to obtain a competent
knowledge of the Native language (Cingalese or Malabar[Tamil]
as the case may be) and when Natives are appointed to such
situations they should be equally conversant with the English
language (Mendis, 1956: 214-215).
However, in practice these language requirements were
largely ignored by the British Civil Servants, and a high percentage
of officials were ignorant of the local languages. Various explanations
were offered for this failure, ranging from the difficulty of learning
the languages to the burden of regular duties which permitted little
time for study (Mills, 1933: 88). Between 1833 and 1848 only two
Civil Servants had passed the local language requirement for the
profession. Civil Servants were allowed to choose which language
(Sinhala or Tamil) they wished to study, and were required to pass
an examination in reading, writing and conversation. But it is reported
that very few Civil Servants took up Tamil, because the majority of
the more important posts were in the Sinhalese areas (Toussaint,
1935: 6). Thus a very few Civil Servants were proficient in Tamil.
However, as a result of the growth of Tea plantation areas in the up-
country provinces, the knowledge of colloquial Tamil also became
useful for commercial interests. As stated by J. C. Willis, a British
Civil Servant : “ the most usual native language for the European to
learn is Tamil, but not what is often called ‘book Tamil’, the language
of the higher class Tamils of the north and of Madras, and the
language used in an extensive literature” ( 1907: 107).
With their ignorance of the local languages, the British officials
relied on a few trusted individuals to act as intermediaries between
themselves and the local population. All areas of governance,
including the judicial administration, became heavily dependant upon
“a new class of local functionaries” – the interpreters in the day-to-
day operation of the colonial administration (Samaraweera 1985:
98). In the Maritime Provinces they were drawn from among
Burghers and in the Kandyan provinces from among the Sinhalese
who came to be associated with British rule through their early
acquisition of the knowledge of English. They were formally known
as ‘Interpreter Mudaliyars’ and they emerged as an elite group in the
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 36
colonial society (See Peebles , 1995). These early interpreters faced
problems with regard to the local languages, while on the other hand
later translators and interpreters found difficulties with English.
Indeed, Colebrooke remarked on this situation in his report: “The
native inhabitants are required to send with their petitions to the
Governor an English translation, and from the ignorance of the
translation they generally convey very imperfectly the sense of the
original” (Mendis, 1956: 106).
The lack of a working knowledge of local languages was
one serious deficiency in the administration at local government
level. In 1848, a ‘rebellion’ broke out against the British
administration in the Kandyan provinces and in Colombo, and it
was alleged that the mishandling of the rebellion was to a
considerable extent due to the communication gap which existed
between the native population – especially the peasants – and the
British civil officials (Toussaint, 1935: 11). It was cited in evidence
that most of the civil officials were not proficient in the local
languages. Giving evidence before a Select Committee, one official
said: “As I cannot speak the language of the country, I could not
have any extensive communication with natives” (Evidence of
Muddock, Select Committee Report, 1850: 58). At this time many of
the public servants sought the assistance of headmen or interpreters
to communicate with the people. The colonial officials themselves
often remarked upon this division between the rulers and the natives,
and upon the consequence of not knowing the people’s language.
Phillip Anstruther, the Colonial Secretary of the island (1830-1840),
commenting on the lack of communication between officials and
locals stated that “there is a complete curtain drawn in Ceylon
between the government and the governed; no person concerned
with government understands the language [of the people]” (Select
Committee Report, 1850: 344).
It was in reference to this state of affairs, in 1852, that James
De Alwis, a bilingual Sinhalese scholar mentioned that the study of
the Sinhala language was much neglected by Europeans
(Dharmadasa, 1992). In the dedication of his work – the Sidat
Saògarâva translation – to the Governor, he pointed out the value
of competency in local languages – mainly Sinhala – as requisite
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 37
qualification for those who entered the public service. De Alwis
believed that,
The constitution of the native society in this Island, the habits
and feelings of the Singhalese, their wants and grievances, their
domestic and social relations, their traditions and customs, and
their all-concentrating religion, are very imperfectly known; and
these, which constitute their national character, can be
understood but little, without a competent knowledge of the
medium through which they are perpetuated – the Singhalese
or Elu language (De Alwis, 1852: v).
Accordingly, he emphasized the value of learning local
languages in order to govern the native people through their own
language and requested the Governor’s assistance and support to
encourage the study of Sinhala for Europeans. De Alwis, too,
referring to the proceedings of the state prosecutions in the 1848
rebellion, pointed out the lack of linguistic skills in local languages.
As early as 1852, he considered Sinhala as the ‘national language’
of the Sinhalese. He questioned: “Is it then right or just that the
national language of the Singhalese should be neglected and
discouraged?” (De Alwis, 1852: xviii).
Although from the earliest period of British rule, a knowledge
of the local languages was considered as an essential requirement
of a Civil Servant, until 1850s there were no fixed rules on these
examinations. In 1852, a Minute by the Governor, George Anderson,
noted the knowledge of local languages as a condition for promotions
in the Civil Service. At this time the Colonial Office made some effort
to facilitate the study of local languages. In 1863, Governor McCarthy
reduced the work of the Writers or Cadets so that they might have
more time to become proficient in the language of the people. In
order to obtain the necessary competency in local languages, the
Civil Servants were also given a ‘pundit allowance’ of £3 per month
to enable them to pay a teacher of Sinhala or Tamil. In 1870, with
the introduction of the Civil Service Examination, proficiency in the
local languages became an important matter, which attracted the
attention of the Civil Service Commission (Dickman, 1872: 42). In
1872, it was decided that no Civil Servant would be promoted to
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 38
any higher situation without a knowledge of Sinhala or Tamil
(Warnapala, 1974: 42).
Moreover, for the benefit of British officials learning Sinhala,
a few Sinhalese scholars and missionaries made an attempt to
publish Sinhala grammars in English. In 1886, C. Chounavel, a
Catholic missionary, compiled A Grammar of the Sinhalese
Language for the use of European students. Commenting on this,
the Director of Public Instruction, stated that “your Grammar ought
to be most useful to civil servants for passing their examinations in
Sinhalese, and to all Europeans who desire to learn Sinhalese”
(Chounavel, 1886: iii). And in 1891, a Sinhalese scholar and
government official, Abraham Mendis Gunasekara, (1860-1931)
also published A Comprehensive Grammar of the Sinhalese
Language and pointed out “the absence of a comprehensive
Grammar of the Sinhalese Language suited to the requirements of
English readers” (Gunasekera, 1891: iii). Most of these Sinhala
grammars were organized in terms of English grammar books, the
various chapters dealing with grammatical categories. At the turn
of the century, most of the British Civil Servants who served in the
island had a necessary command of local languages in order to
carry out their official duties. For example, Leonard Woolf, who
served in the Jaffna, Kandy and Hambantota districts as a Civil
Servant in the first decade of the twentieth century (1904 -1911),
took both Sinhala and Tamil examinations and conversed with
villagers in their own language (Woolf: 1961).
Since the administration of the country was conducted in
English, the local entrants to the Ceylon Civil Service and
government service needed an education in English. The premium
position of English as the language of government in the island
necessitated the establishment of English schools to ensure the
diffusion of this language. Colebrooke was aware that, for the better
administration of the country, the wide gulf that existed between the
rulers and the natives had to be narrowed. He felt the need to devise
a government educational policy which could smoothly absorb
certain elements of the native population into the machinery of civil
administration. In this way, education was one aspect of colonial
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 39
policy and language policy was accordingly geared to the production
of a limited group of people proficient in the English language.
Language Policy for Education
When the British captured the colony in 1796, they neglected
the propagation of education for many years, but about forty years
later the question was taken up by the British government; and in
the meantime, a considerable amount of work was done by various
missionary bodies. Colonial language education policy evolved in
the nineteenth century through the officials of the Colonial Office in
London and of the colonial government, and this was deeply
influenced by language ideologies and attitudes (See Ruberu, 1962a;
Jayaweera, 1969; 1971; Jayasuriya, 1976).
As a part of the plan for educational reform, the first British
Governor, North, recognized the importance of providing English
education. He stated that the objective was to create a people
“connected with England by education and by office and connected
by the ties of blood with the principal native families in the country”
(Quoted in Jayaweera, 1971: 153). In 1799, three years after British
occupation began, James Cordiner, the first Colonial Chaplain and
Principal of Schools, proposed the establishment of a “training school
for the sons of Mudaliyars and other chiefs who would supply
English-speaking officers to various Government Departments”
(Gratiaen 1929: 26). The first English school – the Academy at
Wolvendhal – was established by North in early 1800 as a step to
produce a set of well qualified candidates for all the offices. Later
on Governor Brownrigg also considered English not simply as the
language of the ruler but also as an effective ideological tool to
“increase the attachment of the natives to the British government”
(Ruberu, 1962a: 135). At this time, the teaching of English was also
used as a method to diminish the use of Portuguese, which was
prevalent in some areas.
In the early period of British rule, educational activity was
left largely to the initiative of the missionaries. The American Ceylon
Mission pioneered English education in the 1820s by founding a
seminary at Vaddukkodai (Batticotta Seminary) in the northern district
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 40
of Jaffna. The main purpose in founding that institution was to give a
“thorough knowledge of the English language to native youth” (Quoted
Chelliah 1922[1984]: 6). English language, it was argued, is
indispensable, since “the treasure of the English” can only “to a
small extent” be “transferred to the native languages” (Chelliah, 1922:
6). In addition to the American Ceylon Mission, several other
missionary organizations commenced their activities on the island
during the early nineteenth century (De Silva, 1965). However, most
of the missionaries saw education as the best method of spreading
Christianity, and the teaching of Christianity in local languages as
the most efficient means of “enlightening the masses of the people”
(Ruberu, 1962a: 167). As the missionaries had to counter the
influence of the Buddhist and Hindu priesthood and to reach the
masses, they favoured the use of vernaculars – Sinhala and Tamil
– in their schools (De Silva, 1965: 142). They also wanted workers
who could communicate the Christian faith in the local language
and convert locals. Later on, as a result of government policies,
missionaries were compelled to modify their vernacular language
policy and to give much attention to the diffusion of English.
Colebrooke’s recommendations in 1833 set the direction for
educational policy – in essence a language policy. Until 1831 the
government provided very little education in English, but as a result
of the Colebrooke report the government’s attention was shifted to
English schools. Colebrooke recommended that government
vernacular schools should be abolished, and that attention should
be given to the teaching of English. The establishment of English
as the language of administration and the medium of instruction
signalled the triumph of the ‘Anglicist’ policy. Endorsing the
Colebrooke’s proposals, the Secretary of State for the Colonies wrote
in 1833 to the Governor in Colombo: “The dissemination of the
English language is an object, which I cannot but esteem of the
greatest importance, as a medium of instruction, and as a bond of
union with this country” (Mendis, 1956: 277). The only consistent
theme in Colebrooke’s recommendations on education was his
insistence on English as the medium of instruction. Commenting on
the English missionary schools at that time, Colebrooke complained
that the “English missionaries have not very generally appreciated
the importance of diffusing a knowledge of the English language
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 41
through the medium of their schools”, and viewed the activities of
the American missionaries in the North of the island with admiration
(Mendis, 1956: 73-74). As a result of Colebrooke’s
recommendations, by the 1840s the missionaries were in favour of
the diffusion of the English language through education.
At this point, it is worth examining the British colonial attitude
towards the native educational system and languages. During this
time, in most of the villages the pansala or temple was a school
where a resident monk taught the basics of Sinhala writing to native
children. However, in the face of colonialism, the language practices
of temple education counted little. For example, Colebrooke
unhesitatingly dismissed the education provided by “the native
priesthood in their temples and colleges” as one that “scarcely merits
any notice” (Mendis: 1956: 74). It is possible that Colebrooke, since
he did not know the local languages, was not in a position to
appreciate the indigenous system of learning. He further stated: “In
the interior, the Bhoodhist [Buddhist] priests have evinced some
jealously of the Christian missionaries; but the people in general
are desirous of instruction, in whatever way afforded to them, and
are especially anxious to acquire the English language” (Mendis,
1956: 75).
Colebrooke also observed that the schools maintained by
the government were “extremely defective and inefficient” (Mendis,
1956: 72). Commenting on the education in Government schools in
that period, Colebrooke remarked: “The schoolmasters are not
required to understand the English language, of which many are
wholly ignorant, and they are often extremely unfit for their situations”
(Mendis, 1956: 72). Accordingly, he recommended that in all
instances the schoolmasters should posses “a competent knowledge
of English to enable them to give instruction in that language”
(Mendis, 1956: 73). The implementation of the recommendations
of the Colebrooke report on educational reforms commenced only
after the arrival of Governor Sir Robert Wilmot Horton. The first step
was the appointment of a School Commission in 1834, in order ‘to
facilitate the reform of the government schools’ on the lines
suggested by Colebrooke (Ruberu, 1962b). In 1841 this was
remodelled and became the ‘Central School Commission for the
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 42
Instruction of the Population of Ceylon’. The special duty of promoting
education in English was imposed on it. Yet at the same time, the
Commission decided to introduce vernacular education as a
preliminary to English education. It resolved that the “means of
giving instruction in the Native languages so as to afford the
necessary preparation for English education” should be provided in
every elementary school, in the hope that many natives who could
not be made to see the advantage of learning English would thus
be induced to send their children to the government schools
(Wyndham, 1933: p. 43).
After Colebrooke’s reforms the government embarked on a
policy of using English as the principal medium of instruction and
maintained the vernacular schools as “subsidiary” to the English
schools. Colebrooke also recommended the value of establishing
an institution in Colombo for the purpose of educating native youths
for different branches of the public service (Mendis, 1956: 215). A
model institution for English education – the Colombo Academy –
was established in 1836. From about 1870 more English education
was demanded, and the missions, assisted by the government,
established English secondary schools in the major towns. These
schools provided a curriculum that led to rewarding employment
opportunities and higher education, while the vernacular schools
led to low levels of employment and to no opportunities for higher
Colebrooke’s promotion of English never led to a widespread
literacy in that language. Official records suggest that the proportion
of the people literate in English has always been small. By 1901,
only 3 per cent of the male population was literate in English (Census
of Ceylon, 1901). A major reason for this situation was the uneven
quality of the English education provided. During the last two
decades of the nineteenth century, the colonial officials paid some
attention to the standard of teaching English in schools – more
particularly, on the ‘bad English teaching’ of incompetent native
schoolmasters. The following extract from the report of the Director
of Public Instruction for 1879 shows the status of the teaching of
English in schools.
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 43
In several Anglo-vernacular schools which I have visited, the
teacher supposed to teach English has been quite unable to
converse with me in English, and it has been necessary for the
inspector who accompanied me to act as interpreter
(Administration Report, 1879)
A few years later, in 1883, the Director of Public Instruction,
strongly stated in his report: “We are doing positive harm to the
country by the number of weak schools in the outlying stations and
villages where English is badly taught” (Administration Report, 1883).
Nevertheless there were leading English schools – such as the Royal
College on the government side, and St. Thomas’ College, Colombo
on the grant-in-aid side – which provided a good standard of English
During the British colonial rule, the Burghers always had the
advantage of English education and literacy. By 1901, two-thirds of
them were literate in English, and in 1911 the figure had risen to
seventy eight per cent (Census of Ceylon, 1911). A report in the
Blue Book for 1907 also noted the fact that “English is a foreign
language to all but a small fraction of the population; the Europeans,
Burghers, and Eurasians together form a little less than 1 per cent”
(Ceylon Blue Book, 1907). Since all government employment
depended on the proficiency of English there was a predominance
of Burghers in government employment. At the same time, because
of their English knowledge, the Tamils also enjoyed more posts in
proportion to population than did the majority ethnic group, the
Sinhalese (Tissa Fernando, 1976). Although English education
established a link among the elite of different ethnic communities
(Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers) it did not penetrate far
below the surface. The majority of the Sinhalese and Tamil peasants
and workers remained in a position incapable of communicating
with each other. In this way the colonial educational system added
a new form of language inequality to the island’s linguistic culture –
those who knew English and those who did not (Chitra Fernando,
1989). The English language was at the apex of the linguistic
hierarchy and the use of vernacular was regarded as an “admission
of inferiority” (Wyndham, 1933: 49).
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 44
English - Vernacular Debate in Education, 1840-1900
It should be noted that not all those who were in charge of
education and administration in the British period were supporters
of education in English. As we will see, there were a number of
important shifts in colonial policy, and different officials often had
different opinions regarding education in the English medium.
Controversy over the medium of instruction reveals that colonial
administrators and missionaries took different approaches from time
to time, confirming the absence of a single ideology and policy. As
early as 1817, the Wesleyans began teaching in Sinhala, according
to Tennent, with the precise objective “of superseding the Buddhist
priesthood in this department” (Tennent, 1850: 295). Before the year
1832, schools supported by the government taught almost entirely
in the vernacular, but immediately after the Colebrooke Report
government policy opposed the further development of vernacular
schools. In the late 1830s, the first movement against English began
with the controversy between the Orientalists and the Anglicists on
the issue of the use of English in education.
It was realized within a few years that English was an
unsatisfactory medium of instruction at first for Sinhalese and Tamil
children. For example, in 1838, the Governor James Stewart-
Mackenzie (1837-1841), a firm believer in the social benefits of
education, called for a fundamental change in the language
education policy of the government. He believed that an exclusive
dependence on the English language was an obstruction to progress
in education, and publicly stated that the “state must educate the
masses and not merely an elite” (Corea, 1969). Governor Mackenzie
proposed that children were to be taught to read their own language
before they were taught English. Mackenzie’s adviser on educational
reform, Orientalist Rev. D.J. Gogerly from the Wesleyan mission
supported the establishment of a Translation Committee and
emphasized “the absolute destitution of books” in Sinhala (Quoted
in Jayasuriya 1976: 171). Mackenzie appointed a Translation
Committee with Gogerly as Secretary, without the prior approval of
the Colonial Office, in order to translate useful works into Sinhala
and Tamil, to print these books at the expense of the government,
and to distribute them among the schoolmasters. In 1840, he sent
home a set of educational reforms that gave considerable
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 45
prominence to education in the vernacular. However, the Colonial
Office was not interested in vernacular education, and the Secretary
of State’s reply to Mackenzie’s proposals restated the “English-only”
language policy of the government:
It would be unnecessary for the government to direct its attention
to devote the funds available for education to instruction in the
native languages, and the preferable plan would be to encourage
the acquisition of the English language by conveying instruction
in that language to the scholars, both male and female, in all the
schools conducted by the government (Quoted in Jayaweera,
1971: 157).
Furthermore, the Colonial Secretary, Phillip Anstruther, came
out strongly against education in the vernacular and his
Memorandum of 1840 further stressed the English language diffusion
policy: “I do not think that sufficient efforts are made to diffuse the
English language, and I am confident that, if English schools were
established to a sufficient extent the English language would soon
be generally spoken in the country” (Quoted in De Silva, 1963: 185).
In 1847 the above policy was changed, and attempts were made to
establish vernacular schools by the government. It was found that
many of the students, especially in the village schools, could not
benefit by the instruction they received unless it was combined with
their own language. By establishing vernacular schools, the
government diverted a section of the population to those schools
and thus limited English education to a minority, in particular to
children of rich and elite parents. It should be noted that those who
advocated education in the vernaculars never turned their attention
to the country’s ancient literature, or to the pansala school system
because of their Buddhist flavour. In fact they stressed the cultivation
of vernacular languages in order to promote Western knowledge,
as a “prelude to education in the English language” (De Silva, 1963:
During the 1850s, the influence of a policy decision
(Educational Dispatch of 1854) in favour of mass education
formulated for British India by Sir Charles Wood came to have its
impact on Sri Lanka as well. This suggested the use of vernacular
languages to teach the far larger class who are ignorant of, or
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 46
imperfectly acquainted with, English (Khubchandani 1997). At this
time, the issue of a language education policy received the attention
of the Legislative Council of Ceylon. As a result of a motion carried
before the Council in 1865, a Sub-Committee was appointed to
inquire into the state and prospects of education in the island, and
its report – known as the ‘Morgan Committee Report’ (named after
its president, Sir Richard Morgan) – also pointed out that due
attention had not been paid to elementary vernacular education as
a means of enlightening the “mass of the people in their own tongue”
(Report on Education, 1867: 9). The report explicitly stated that
vernacular schools should be widely extended, by establishing
government schools and encouraging grant-in-aid schools. This
recommendation was put into operation, and the government
showed a commitment to promote vernacular mass education.
However, there were objections to this initiative. Some argued that
vernaculars were unsuitable for pedagogical purposes. While
commenting on vernacular education, Walter J. Sendall, the
Government Inspector of Schools, made the following observation
on the Sinhala language:
I am of the opinion that Vernacular Sinhalese is a language on
the wane, gradually decaying, and destined to die out […] If it
be a decaying dialect, any attempt to revive it will only impart to
it the vitality of a galvanized corpse (Report on Education, 1867:
Appendix: 56).
In the last decades of the nineteenth century, as we have
seen, the colonial language policy was also affected by the conflicting
positions held by colonial officials regarding the respective roles of
the vernacular languages and English. Till 1870, there were two
educational systems working side by side – the government schools
and missionary schools. It should be noted that these two systems
were not rivals, the missions having few English schools and many
vernacular schools, and the government having more English
schools and fewer vernacular (Gratiaen 1933). During the period
1870-1900, indeed, there was a partial reversal of the government’s
educational policy, in the sense that English education was almost
wholly left to the Christian missions, while education in the vernacular
became much more direct the concern of the government.
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 47
(Jayasuriya 1976: 289). The following table shows the situation of
the governmental English and vernacular schools at the end of the
nineteenth century.
Table 1: Government and Aided Schools, 1871-1900
1871 1881 1891 1900
Govt. English 17 26 3 4
Govt. Anglo Vernacular 34 25 13 12
Govt. Vernacular 129 347 422 484
Aided English 37 77 51 144
Aided Anglo Vernacular 40 82 66 16
Aided Vernacular 237 680 854 1,168
Total 494 1,237 1,409 1,828
Source: AR (Public Instruction)
As these figures indicate, vernacular schools were
numerically the largest group of schools, and at the end of the
nineteenth century, the majority of students received their school
education in these vernacular schools in which local languages were
taught exclusively.
The debates on education policies within the official circles
also created a forum to discuss the matters related to language in
vernacular education. As we have seen, after 1867, government
policy favoured vernacular education and this paved the way for
various language planning activities – particularly with regard to
Sinhala. Over the years, language issues related to vernacular
education received a considerable amount of attention from the
colonial government and the literary elite. For example, as a Sinhala
language loyalist, James De Alwis campaigned for the provision of
better facilities for vernacular education and the preparation of a
good set of school textbooks in Sinhala. In 1869, a Committee was
appointed, including De Alwis, for the purpose of considering the
quality of Sinhala books commonly used in the vernacular schools
in the island (Papers on the subject of Vernacular Education 1876:
Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies- Vol.1- No.1 48
4). In 1871, the Director of Public Instruction recommended the
“appointment of a Pundit of recognized learning and authority, to be
permanently attached to the Department, for the purpose of assisting
in the production of vernacular school textbooks” (Administration
Report, 1871). To promote vernacular education in Sinhala, the
Government Press started to print Sinhala textbooks and other works
from 1879 onwards for the Department of Public Instruction. With
regard to the compilation of Sinhala textbooks and grammars- mainly
for teaching Sinhala -the government consulted the leading Sinhala
scholars, school inspectors and translators of the day. It is clear
from this discussion that from the late-nineteenth century onwards,
colonial government became involved in the promotion of Sinhala
for pedagogical purposes, and this laid the foundations for the
development of the Sinhala language as an educational medium in
the colonial context.
As we have seen, the question of language became an
important factor in many areas of colonial power – missionary,
education and administration – when the need for specific language
policies began to become apparent. The colonial policies of the
British with regard to language and government were more organized
and effective than those of the other colonial powers, which preceded
them, and these evolved over time. The sociolinguistic significance
of the Colebrooke report was that its recommendations paved the
way for a definite colonial language policy. English rapidly became
associated with colonial administration and served the function of
an ‘official language’ as in their other colonies. The hegemony of
the English language in government policy prevailed but no provision
was made for giving the people at large an opportunity to acquire a
knowledge of that language.
Linguistic imperialism was another consequence of colonial
policy, and colonial ideologies were reflected in language education
policies (Phillipson, 1992). However, there was no total agreement
among the missionaries and colonial officials on policies relating to
language and they continued to hold conflicting views. Our
discussion also makes it clear that the dual discourses of Orientalism
Colonialism and Problems of Language Policy : 49
(policies in favour of education in local languages) and Anglicism
(policies in favour of education in English) operated not so much as
competing policies, but rather as “complementary discourses within
the larger discursive field of colonialism” (Pennycook 1994: 79; see
also Pennycook 1998). It is clear from this analysis that the language
policy issue emerged as a public concern during the British colonial
rule, and was a key element of colonial policy for education,
missionary work and administration. The introduction of English
education in the nineteenth century had a profound long-term impact
on the country’s language policies and practices. These colonial
educational policies inevitably resulted in the creation of a social
elite educated solely in the English language. Despite the increase
in the number of schools those who had the benefits of an English
education remained in a minority. As a result, the colonial educational
system created a new language hierarchy. But we can at the same
time also argue that due to the expansion of mass vernacular
education, another large literate audience in vernaculars, mainly in
Sinhala was produced by that same educational context.
I would like to acknowledge the helpful criticism I have received from my super-
visor Dr. Sujit Sivasundaram.I must also thank Dr. Marie Lovatt for reading a
draft of an earlier version of this paper and making valuable corrections.
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... After crushing several uprisings and consolidating their power, they introduced long-lasting changes in 1832 through the Colebrooke Report (Gooneratne 1968; Coperehewa 2011). This Report defined the language policies and plans to administer the country and recommended that almost all functions of the state including administration, education and the judiciary should be conducted solely in English (Gooneratne 1968;Coperehewa 2011). The associated condescending attitudes of the colonizers were summarized by the comments made in the Colebrooke Report: "The education afforded by the native priesthood in their temples and colleges scarcely merits any note", and by the Government Inspector of Schools: "I am of the opinion that Vernacular Sinhalese is a language on the wane, gradually decaying, and destined to die out […] If it be a decaying dialect, any attempt to revive it will only impart to it the vitality of a galvanized corpse" (Report on Education, 1867, Appendix: 56, in Coperehewa 2011). ...
... Initially, health services were administered by the military, but in 1858, they became a civilian department (Uragoda 1987). All medical communication and training were in English (Gooneratne 1968;Coperehewa 2011). The first medical school was established in 1848 by American missionaries in Jaffna and had English as its medium of instructions (Uragoda 1987). ...
Sri Lanka, once a colony of Britain, gained independence in 1948. However, especially the health sector continues to use English as its main medium of communication. Such language bias leads to marginalization of those less fluent in English, and hinders achieving a higher level of health literacy. Discrimination of people or social groups based on their language is termed linguicism. Tackling linguicism requires an understanding of its historic roots and an exploration of potential links to colonial racial prejudices. Published literature presents evidence that traces linguicism to language policies of the British colonial government (1815–1948). Though an exhaustive survey of historical records is not presented, there is reasonable evidence to suggest a close link. British colonial rule derived its justification from supremacist and racist ideology. As a result, English became the medium in all forms of official communications, a situation that persisted after independence. A similar situation exists in many parts of the worlds. We should recognize language-based discrimination and linguicism as public health issues. They are detrimental to health of vulnerable groups and have the potential to worsen health disparities.
... These imperialists brought significant changes to the socio-economic, political, and cultural practices of the people of the country (Liyanage and Canagarajah 2014). The language of administration during this period was Portuguese, and interpreters were employed to communicate with the locals (Coperehewa 2011). Those who associated closely with the Portuguese, either through marriage or some other means, communicated in Sri Lankan Portuguese Creole, a language that emerged during the period (de Silva Jayasuriya 2001) now spoken by a very small group of Portuguese and Dutch descent in the Eastern and North-Western provinces of Sri Lanka. ...
... Those who associated closely with the Portuguese, either through marriage or some other means, communicated in Sri Lankan Portuguese Creole, a language that emerged during the period (de Silva Jayasuriya 2001) now spoken by a very small group of Portuguese and Dutch descent in the Eastern and North-Western provinces of Sri Lanka. Attempts of the Dutch to spread their language to the locals during their period of occupation failed, and instead it was used alongside Sinhala, Tamil (Coperehewa 2011;Sannasgala 1976), and Portuguese Creole, which they adopted for use with Creole-speaking wives and servants (de Silva Jayasuriya 2001). ...
Language has been attributed a causal role with regards to social discord, and language policies that govern media of instruction in schools in multilingual communities such as Sri Lanka have undoubtedly contributed to the disruption and distortion of social relations and structures in otherwise stable ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse communities. However, abundant historical and contemporary examples suggest that language policy is not usually the sole basis for social disharmony, nor can language policy alone be an adequate response to the need to ameliorate tensions or to repair social fractures following discord or conflict. In Sri Lanka, where postcolonial changes to language policy are commonly argued to be the catalyst for a civil conflict lasting 30 years, hopes are pinned on recent language policy changes which promote language learning to achieve trilingualism (Sinhala, Tamil and English) throughout the country. This chapter considers the potential of the Trilingual Language Policy to achieve political goals of reconciliation and coexistence in the post-war Sri Lankan context given the larger geo-political circumstances, arguing that the promotion of language learning aligns with socioeconomic aspirations of Sri Lankans although trilingualism is a necessary yet, in itself, insufficient prerequisite for the achievement of social harmony.
... Since the colonial administration included the aspects of governance and missionary activity in their agendas, language for communication poised as a major obstacle as the inhabitants were Sinhalese and Tamils. The question of language came to the fore in their administration during the early nineteenth century when British administrators and missionaries debated on the kind of language policy to be introduced (Coperehewa, 2011). Since the inception of colonial administration, British rulers stressed on two aspects; the value of English and value of Christianity. ...
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The aim of the research was to identify learner perspectives of the students of the English language teaching programmes of the national universities in Sri Lanka. The focus of the research questions and the hypotheses were to ascertain perceived satisfaction of students on Teaching, Assessment and Evaluation, and Learning Environment and Resources of the ELT programmes. In order to identify the learner perspectives of students on the three major areas of the ELT programmes, survey method was adopted to a selected sample of two developed Metropolitan universities and six Peripheral universities based on science-based and non science-based faculties. Data collection was done using a questionnaire administered online using a Google Form. A Likert scale was used to collect data and for the analysis of data, quantitative analysis method was applied. It was found that the overall satisfaction of students was high (mean= 3.9672) towards the ELT programmes. However, a moderate satisfaction was indicated for online testing (mean= 3.6594), lecture room facilities (mean= 3.6487), and library facilities by the respondents (mean=3.4973). Results of the research further revealed that the satisfactory level of methods of teaching in peripheral universities was low (mean= 2.3279). Though there was no significant difference over the overall satisfaction between the metropolitan and peripheral universities (t-test sig. value - .596>0.05), the satisfaction level of the science-based faculties was proved to be higher than the non science -based faculties (t-test sig. value - .040 <0.05). In order to remedy the findings of the research, it is recommended that workshops and conferences be organized at university level and national level. Also, execution of national level testing system such as UTEL, alignment of university curricula to UTEL, improvement of library facilities, and implementation of purpose-built classrooms and improvement of such facilities are recommended to improve the ELT programmes. Key Words: Needs Analysis, Students’ Perspectives, Learner-Centred Curriculum, Learning Environment, Learner Assessment
... However, owing to the complex situation of English as a Second Language in Sri Lanka, the use of English as the sole instruction language in foreign language textbooks is an issue of controversy. According to Coperehewa (2011) Colonial education policies have resulted in the forming of a social elite educated solely in the English language and in spite of the increase in number of schools, those who had benefits of the English language are relatively less. However, the use of English language in CFL textbooks remains inevitable due to the scarcity of appropriate terms in Sinhala for culture-loaded words and technical terms of Chinese language, most of which, even if available, are much less familiar to students than their English counterparts. ...
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Despite the dramatic growth in demand for Chinese language in Sri Lanka, fewer efforts have been taken for catering the specific necessities of Sri Lankan CFL learners towards an optimal student friendly learning environment. The hegemonic and ideological approaches of global textbooks have least addressed the socio-linguistic attributes of Sri Lankan learners. The present study examines the shortcomings of global CFL textbooks used by Sri Lankan learners from a student perspective and develops a rudimentary conceptual framework with reference to existing literature. The key informants of the study were (n=35) Chinese language students of Sri Lanka who constitute for a non-probabilistic convenience sample. It was inferred from the analysis that there is a critical requirement of incorporating local languages, their specific vocabulary and local context into CFL textbooks in Sri Lanka. It was further concluded that textbooks best be optimized for supporting translanguaging or partial immersion rather than total immersion or monolingual instructional approaches that would accommodate the socio-linguistic, socio-cultural and meta-cognitive spaces of the learners.
... (Maher, 2017) The introduction of English Education in the nineteenth century as a result of colonialism had profound and long-term impacts on Sri Lanka's language policies and practice. (Coperehewa, 2011) English still remains largely a colonial aristocratic symbol in Sri Lanka thus limiting its stakeholders mostly to the elite community. ...
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Traditional perspectives on monolingual education and total immersion have been substituted by more novel approaches to multilingual education such as translanguaging and partial immersion where the learners’ language repertoire is paid adequate respect. The present study investigates the role of L1 and L2 in teaching Chinese in Sri Lanka using 42 adult Chinese language learners in Sri Lanka as informants and a structured questionnaire was used as the main data collection tool. The informants have a highly divided perspective towards the use of L1 and L2 in the classroom. Most students have favored English instruction considering its efficacy in career prospects and Sinhala for convenience of comprehension. Considering the existing situation of Chinese language textbooks, language policy, and recent trends in multilingualism in Sri Lanka, total immersion is less likely to bring optimal effectiveness in teaching Chinese. The present study suggests that partial immersion and translanguaging would be more constructive for Sri Lankan students if cautiously handled with less hindrance to the delivery of target language content and its accuracy. A multilingual approach would, on one hand, offer a safe space for students to communicate while penetrating cross-cultural barriers through cultivation of culture-sensitivity.
... Nevertheless, my Northern origin sometimes came with advantages. Educators from the global North have held positions of authority in Sri Lankan educational institutions since the 19 th century, when British and US missionaries founded dozens of schools across the country (Coperehewa 2011). At LIHE, the rendition of the coloniser as an educational expert was reinforced by UOL's governance, examinations, and curricula written from an explicitly Western perspective. ...
This study examines colonial governmentality in a Sri Lankan partner institution of University of London (UOL) through semi-structured interviews with students and faculty. UOL began administrating colonised educational spaces in the 19th century, and now governs approximately 80 partner institutions throughout the global South. Its governmentality structures an arterial topology of power that grants limited inclusion to students while excluding their lecturers from formal recognition. Faculty at partner institutions do not assess students. Instead, assessment consists of annual British examinations, effectuating rote pedagogies that centre European knowledge. This extraction of faculty authority shapes delegitimated and disempowered subjectivities. The same process augments UOL’s expertise on Southern educational spaces, contributing to a broader project of universalising Western epistemology. The findings suggest a need for further research that examines colonial governmentality in international education, and particularly its mechanisms of epistemic extraction
... While on issues of political and commercial importance they tended to support each other, socially, the European community was both fractured and hierarchically ordered. 77 Coperehewa, S. 2011. "Colonialism and problems of language policy: formulation of a colonial language policy in Sri Lanka." ...
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In this article, the main focus is to figure out the socio-political context of the Language Policy (LP) adoptions in Sri Lanka while examining the evolution of linguistics communities hand-in-hand with the LP practices during the last 200 years of period. Notably, the article scrutinizes these two variables (language policy and language community) to see whether there is any relationship between language policy adoption and the growth or fall of the population of language communities during this period. Apart from the major languages, the minor languages are also looked at in this paper. In this, the threats and opportunities for different language communities available in Sri Lankan language ecology are also scrutinized and predicted. The study has derived specifically the two variables; language policy and evolution of linguistic communities to see the threats and opportunities for different language communities in the current context. Concluding the work, the study has established the threats and opportunities available for Sri Lankan languages including classical and small minorities while finding some evidence to see a suspicious relationship between language policy adoptions and the fall of some small minority languages that must be further researched with other relevant factors.
The protection for the victim is not been addressed through neither existing law nor institutional mechanism in Sri Lanka. Therefore, this dissertation is a contribution to further dig deep in to the issue and add value to the literature of this nature. The aim of the research is to determine how effective the existing mechanisms are in reducing violence against women and in providing a satisfactory service to the victim, despite it being in existence for a long period. The research question is answered through an experiment that entails distributing questionnaires to respondents captivating a rural part of Sri Lanka in Trincomalee District.
This chapter provides an account of Sri Lanka’s history, beginning with an outlining of the migration of Tamils and Sinhala from India to Sri Lanka and the establishment of the kingdoms in the country. It will then focus on the arrival of the colonial powers in Sri Lanka and the introduction of legal regimes to govern the inhabitants. Three colonial commissions had a profound impact on the country. The Colebrooke-Cameron, Donoughmore and the Soulbury Commissions delineated the legal parameters, created local constitutions within which Sri Lanka would operate. Sir Charles Jeffries affirmed that while Britain was duly considering the lack of its own constitution, for practical reasons the colonial power was very much imposing powers and duties upon the subordinate administrations to control the colonial subjects. Further examination is required to explore the role of colonial policies on ethnicities. Were Sinhala nationalism and Tamil separatism two inevitable consequences of colonial policy?
A much-cited and highly influential text by Alastair Pennycook, one of the world authorities in sociolinguistics, The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language explores the globalization of English by examining its colonial origins, its connections to linguistics and applied linguistics, and its relationships to the global spread of teaching practices. Nine chapters cover a wide range of key topics including: international politics colonial history critical pedagogy postcolonial literature. The book provides a critical understanding of the concept of the ‘worldliness of English’, or the idea that English can never be removed from the social, cultural, economic or political contexts in which it is used. Reissued with a substantial preface, this Routledge Linguistics Classic remains a landmark text, which led a much-needed critical and ideologically-informed investigation into the burgeoning topic of World Englishes. Key reading for all those working in the areas of Applied Linguistics, Sociolinguistics and World Englishes.