A study of multicultural practices in Sri Lankan secondary schools and an English comparator school
SubjectsX330 Academic studies in Secondary Education
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AbstractThis study investigated stakeholders’ views of multicultural policies and practices in multicultural secondary schools in Sri Lanka and a comparator school in England, in order to elicit what new insights could be gained that could lead to educational improvements in Sri Lankan schools. Specifically, students and staff in five Sinhala-medium secondary schools in the Colombo region, all with reputations for good multicultural education practice, together with local community leaders and national policy makers, were interviewed. A series of questionnaires was designed to examine a wide range of stakeholder perspectives across these five schools, using as a conceptual framework Banks’s (1986, 1989 and 2004) international work on multicultural policy and practice in schools and teacher education. A similar interview schedule and questionnaire were used to elicit views and experiences of multicultural education in a comparator school in an urban area of the East of England. There were a number of reasons for this. The modern school system of Sri Lanka had its beginnings during the British colonial administration. Now that there is peace in Sri Lanka after a long period of civil war, the government is focusing on ways to develop the curriculum to integrate multicultural education into its peace education curriculum in order to foster intercultural understandings. England has a longer tradition in multicultural education and policies in its education system. Using Banks’s work (op. cit.) for analysis, there may therefore be lessons to be drawn from the Sri Lankan schools identified as having good multicultural practice and the English experience that are of use in Sri Lanka. Major findings from this research project include the need for careful consideration of ways to foster greater multilingual competence among both teachers and students if Sri Lanka is to reach its goal of greater intercultural understandings and communication between the various ethnic groups. It seems from this study that, in Sri Lanka, whilst there were some differences in the strength of perception of different ethnic groups of students, overall they felt comfortable and safe in school, which is a testament to government efforts to achieve harmony in schools and, thus, social cohesion in society. However, some groups of students are more advantaged than others in the same schools in their access to the acquisition of languages and, therefore, access to the curriculum and to further and higher education and future enhanced life chances. The teachers acknowledged that language was a major concern in multicultural classrooms, partly because some students could not communicate effectively in Sinhala medium, and partly because they themselves were not always fluent in both national languages. Further, despite central government policy that all secondary teachers in Sri Lanka should be trained to degree level and should be qualified in their profession, the highest qualification that nearly one half possessed was A-level General Certificate of Education. All teachers in both Sri Lankan, and the English comparator, schools expressed a wish for training in multicultural practices.
CitationWedikandage, L.N.P. (2014) 'A study of multicultural practices in Sri Lankan secondary schools and an English comparator school'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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