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Language education policy in Sri Lanka
chapterposted on 2019-04-01, 00:00 authored by Indika LiyanageIndika Liyanage
This chapter provides background to the policy situation for language education in Sri Lanka and offers some reflections on policy outcomes, past and present, and prospects for the future. Language education in Sri Lanka is accorded a distinctive role across many dimensions of national life. A close association between religion and language was an essential and inseparable aspect of group cultural identity and education, including language education, was centred on the religious institutions responsible for its provision. The established systems of language education provided by religious institutions suffered a severe disruption following the early 16th-century arrival of the Portuguese who gradually occupied the island’s western and northern coastal areas. Since independence, policy for language education, and language in education, had been characterised by continually shifting parameters dictated by political imperatives against a background of social and ethnic division. Languages education policy in Sri Lanka has been both source and instrument of social and political division for nearly 200 years.