Compliance or Deviation? Investigating English Medium Instruction in the Universities of Sri Lanka. Ryhana Raheem Open University of Sri Lanka
Presentation on Sri Lanka • Sociopolitico-Linguistic details. • Constitutional Provisions for Language. • Universities of Sri Lanka. • Selected Universities,Faculties & Media of Instruction. • Status and Role of English and other Languages.
Significant Socio-Politico-Linguistic Events • 1830 –1833 Colebrooke Cameron Commission to foster English as a medium of instruction • 1948 Independence from British rule Establishment of Free Education • 1956 Official Language Act (Makes Sinhala the only official language) • 1958 Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act (Tamil accorded official status in North and East)
Significant Socio-Politico-Linguistic Events • 1978 Sinhala and Tamil declared National and Official languages. English not recognised officially. • 1987 The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala. Tamil shall also be an official language. English shall be the link language” The National Languages of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala and Tamil.
Constitution of Sri Lanka. Chapter IV. Language 21. (1) A person shall be entitled to be educated through the medium of either of the National Languages. Provided that the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to an institution of higher education where the medium of instruction is a language other than a National language.
Constitution (contd.) 21. (2) Where one Language is a medium of instruction for or in any course, department or faculty of any University directly or indirectly financed by the State, the other National Language shall also be made a medium of instruction for….students who….were educated through the medium of such other National language.
Jaffna Location of Selected Universities Peradeniya SEU Colombo SJP OUSL
Colombo Eastern University of Sri Lanka Jaffna Kelaniya Moratuwa Open University of Sri Lanka Performing Arts Peradeniya Rajarata Ruhuna Sabaragamuwa Sri Jayawardenepura South Eastern University Uva-Wellassa Wayamba Universities in Sri Lanka
Status of Languages in Sri Lankan Universities - Peradeniya “All notices put up by the faculty are in English.Students also use English to announce sports activities-but they sometimes use Sinhala especially when they wish to announce cultural events or entertainment. The usage of Tamil is non-existent.”
Status of Languages.. “The library contains mostly English books but Sinhala books are available in the Sri Lanka section. Newspapers in all three languages are available to students.”
Status of Languages- Sri JP “Sinhala has been the language of the university since its establishment. But English is used for interviews for recruitment of academic staff and circulars….The language policy of the university often depends on the choice of the Vice Chancellor”
Status of Languages - Peradeniya • All Staff & Faculty Board meetings, Senate meetings, Academic Sessions are in English. • Most official correspondence is in English. • All Union meetings and transactions are in Sinhala. • Counselling is conducted in the first language. • All Faculty handbooks are in English. • “Campus language” is Sinhala –even for Tamil students.
Status of Languages- SEU “In the Faculty of Arts, almost all academic staff have done their undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Tamil. In the Faculties of Management and Applied Sciences, faculty have graduated in English.”
Status of Languages - Colombo ‘Even though lecturers in the Faculties of Arts and Law teach in either Sinhala or Tamil, they prepare lesson material and hand –outs in English. Most claimed it was easier to use English as all relevant up-to-date sources of information were in English.”
Status of Languages - Colombo “The most common problem cited was the lack of precise vocabulary in Sinhala and Tamil. For example, Tamil scholars have not been able to agree on a single word for ‘State’.”
Status of Languages - Colombo “All academic work (excluding teaching) such as material preparation, conducting examinations, research publications, conducting seminars and workshops is in English. But most informal work such as group discussions, group studies, communicating with lecturers is done bilingually or in the mother tongue or English.”
Status of Languages- Colombo “Both lecturers and students prefer to engage in their academic work in the English language because they view English as a language which would enrich their studies and take them along the path of social advancement.”
Status of Languages .. “Although there is transition from first language to English medium instruction.. there is no uniformity or consistency in its implementation” Peradeniya
Status of Languages - Jaffna “On the whole, though there is much talk on language issues and the political struggle to win the rights ( of Tamil people), where education is concerned, students as well as staff prefer English as the medium of education.”