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General Education in Sri Lanka

  • Harsha Aturupane
  • Angela W. LittleEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Global Education Systems book series (GES)

Abstract

Long-standing Buddhist, Hindi, and Islamic education traditions, combined with those of subsequent Christian powers (Portuguese, Dutch, and British), have left legacies of school purpose and organization that influence education even today. In the nineteenth century, there was a wide array of private provision of education; during the second half of the twentieth century, a unified national state-supported system of education emerged. Following independence in 1948, a large number of religious denominational schools were taken over by the state, the establishment of new private schools was prohibited, and English was abolished as a medium of instruction in schools. In marked contrast to several other countries in Asia, the majority of today’s children, including those of the upper middle classes, follow general education in government schools and in the vernacular language, Sinhala (the majority) or Tamil (the minority). English is taught to all students as a curriculum subject and in recent years has been reintroduced as a medium of instruction for some subjects in some schools. Education reforms in the 1970s and the 1990s arose in response to (i) demands among rural Sinhala youth to reduce disparities in education and employment opportunities and, more recently, (ii) the cessation of hostilities of the 30-year civil war, involving Tamil youth and the security forces. Responsibilities for the management and financing of education are shared between Provincial Ministries and Departments and the National Ministry of Education. Continuing disparities in educational opportunity and outcomes are outlined and a number of contemporary issues raised.

Keywords

History Policy and issues School characteristics Curriculum Assessment Disparities Administration Funding 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World BankWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.University College London Institute of EducationLondonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Archana Mehendale
    • 1
  • Tatsuya Kusakabe
  1. 1.Centre for Education Innovation and Action ResearchTata Institute of Social SciencesMumbaiIndia

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