Advertisement

A Little Learning: Women, Men, and Schools in Rural Sri Lanka

  • Deborah Winslow
Chapter
Part of the Anthropological Studies of Education book series (ASE)

Abstract

Sri Lanka, with its high literacy rates for men and women alike, is an outlier in South Asia. To better understand how this came about, this chapter examines the relationship between gender and the proliferation of rural schools during the early twentieth century. Data from a longitudinal study of a Sinhalese Potter community reveal that its early gender imbalance in education decreased over time until, for children born in the 1950s, girls surpassed boys in their average years of schooling. Contrary to expectations, given the South Asian context, this analysis fails to support the idea that education for girls was less valued than for boys. Rather, what mattered was school proximity. Once schools were nearby, girls and boys attended in equal numbers.

Keywords

Sri Lanka British colonialism School access 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author was employed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) when writing this chapter. The NSF also supported part of the research through a senior research award (BCS-9246632) and a Long Term Professional Development Leave (2013). Additional funding came from the United States–Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission (2013), the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies (2004), and the University of New Hampshire. Any opinion, findings, or conclusions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF or any of my other funders. I also am grateful to the School for Advanced Research, which has provided space and support during several summers of data analysis, and to Fatima J. Touma for her assistance in preparing the figures. Finally, I extend warm thanks to Dr. Helen Ullrich, the editor of this volume, whose tireless efforts have made it possible.

References

  1. Centola, Damon. 2018. How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. 1998. Economic Progress of Independent Sri Lanka. Colombo: Central Bank of Sri Lanka.Google Scholar
  3. Denham, E.B. 1912. Ceylon at the Census of 1911: The Review of the Results of the Census of 1911. Colombo: H. C. Cottle, Government Printer.Google Scholar
  4. Diaz, Hugo. 1995. Sri Lanka Poverty Assessment. World Bank Report No. 13431-CE, Country Management Unit-A, South Asia Region.Google Scholar
  5. Gamburd, Michele Ruth. 2008. Breaking the Ashes: The Culture of Illicit Liquor in Sri Lanka. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Harris, Elizabeth J. 2006. Theravada Buddhism and the British Encounter: Religious, Missionary, and Colonial Experience in Nineteenth Century Sri Lanka. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Jayasuriya, J.E. 1976. Educational Policies and Progress During British Rule in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Colombo: Associated Educational Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Jayaweera, Swarna. 1973. Education Policy in the Early Twentieth Century. In University of Ceylon History of Ceylon, vol. 3, ed. K.M. de Silva, 461–475. Colombo: Colombo Apothecaries and Peradeniya: University of Ceylon.Google Scholar
  9. Jayaweera, Swarna. 1985. Women and Education. In UN Decade for Women: Progress and Achievements of Women in Sri Lanka, 47–68. Colombo: Centre for Women’s Research.Google Scholar
  10. Langdon, Samuel. 1884. Punchi Nona, a Story of Female Education and Village Life in Ceylon. London: T. Woolmer.Google Scholar
  11. Meegama, S.A. 2012. Famine, Fevers and Fear: The State and Disease in British Colonial Sri Lanka. Dehiwela: Sridevi.Google Scholar
  12. Mitra, Raktim, Guy E.J. Faulkner, Ron N. Buliung, and Michelle R. Stone. 2014. Do Parental Perceptions of the Neighborhood Environment Influence Children’s Independent Mobility? Evidence from Toronto, Canada. Urban Studies 51 (16): 3401–3419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Peebles, Patrick. 1995. Social Change in Nineteenth Century Ceylon. New Delhi: Navrang.Google Scholar
  14. Ranasinha, A.G. 1950. Census of Ceylon 1946: Vol. I, Part I: General Report. Colombo: The Ceylon Government Press.Google Scholar
  15. Risseeuw, Carla. 1988. The Fish Don’t Talk About the Water: Gender Transformation, Power, and Resistance Among Women in Sri Lanka. Leiden: E. J. Brill.Google Scholar
  16. Ryan, Bryce. 1993 [1953]. Caste in Modern Ceylon: The Sinhalese System in Transition. New Delhi: Navrang.Google Scholar
  17. Sri Lanka, Department of Census and Statistics. 1997. Changing Role of Women in Sri Lanka. Colombo: Ministry of Finance and Planning.Google Scholar
  18. Sri Lanka, Department of Census and Statistics. 2012. Census of Population and Housing 2011: Basic Population Information by Districts and Divisional Secretary Divisions. Colombo: Ministry of Finance and Planning.Google Scholar
  19. Stirrat, R.L. 1988. On the Beach: Fishermen, Fishwives, and Fishtraders in Post-colonial Lanka. Delhi: Hindustan Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
  20. United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). 2010. Education for All: Global Monitoring Report. http://www.unesco.org/education/GMR2006/full/chapt8_eng.pdf. Accessed 22 Jan 2017.
  21. United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). 2016. State of the World’s Children. Statistical Tables. https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/sri_lanka_statistics.html. Accessed 22 Jan 2017.
  22. Wickremeratne, L.A. 1970. 1865 and the Changes in Education Policies. Modern Ceylon Studies 1 (1): 84–93.Google Scholar
  23. Wickremeratne, L.A. 1973. Economic Development in the Plantation Sector, c 1900–1947. In University of Ceylon History of Ceylon, vol. 3, ed. K.M. de Silva, 428–445. Colombo: Colombo Apothecaries and Peradeniya: University of Ceylon.Google Scholar
  24. Williams, G.S. 1885. Administrative Report for the Northwestern Province 1885. Colombo: Government Press.Google Scholar
  25. Winslow, Deborah. 1994. Status and Context: Sri Lankan Potter Women Reconsidered After Fieldwork in India. Comparative Studies in Society and History 36: 2–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Winslow, Deborah. 2003. Potters’ Progress: Hybridity and Accumulative Change in Rural Sri Lanka. The Journal of Asian Studies 62 (1): 43–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Winslow, Deborah. 2009. The Village Clay: Recursive Innovations and Community Self-Fashioning Among Sinhalese Potters. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 15: 254–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Winslow, Deborah. 2016. Living Life Forward: Technology, Time, and Society in a Sri Lankan Potter Community. Economic Anthropology 3 (2): 216–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. World Bank. 2017. The World Bank in Sri Lanka. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/srilanka/overview. Accessed 28 Jan 2018.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Winslow
    • 1
  1. 1.National Science FoundationWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations