Teaching English to Primary School Children in Sri Lanka

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31st Jul 2018 Education Reference this


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United Nations who has ensured the peace and harmony in global arena has formulated International covenant on economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 13 in the covenant has mentioned that [1] .

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full realization of this right

Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all

Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education

Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education.

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, For instance in Sri Lanka since 1950s the state has interfered for supporting the poorest to enter the chain of education while offering bursar, scholarship, and from 1980 the text books has distributed freely. In Norway, from primary to secondary education is free. These all instance depicted that, education is the one of the best channel for mobilizing the society and disclosed the grass roots for climbing the mount in economics and social.

Any way in Sri Lankan context the literacy rates exist as following;

Female Literacy Rate 93 %

Male Literacy Rate 94 %

Figure 1: Gender wise literacy rate in Sri Lanka

The Structure for Education has composed in order to Primary and Secondary level.



Kinder Garden 4-5 Years Old

Junior Secondary Grade 6-9 : 10-14 years Old

Grade 1- 5 :5- 10 years Old

Senior Secondary Grade 10-11 : 14- 16 years Old


Grade 12-13 : 16-18 Years Old

Table 1: Primary and secondary divisions

In Portuguese and Dutch period, none had purpose to teach their language. In British era, they origin the school system with teaching English. Because English had moderated as the administrative language and Britain wanted to suggest the crown friendly class through the English language.

The students from rural region had backward in using of English because they didn’t become skilled at English due to absent of its teaching. Thereby the opportunity afforded in government high rank job solitary for student from urban rather from rural. The central school concept has molded privileged situation while opening the education studies for rural people on certain extent.

The history has transformed in today for giving prospect for studding in Sinhala, Tamil and English in order to choice and capacity of the student. Despite the fact that the national school has benefited of the selecting of medium for learning, the rural student rearward not only in studding through English medium, but the lack of ability for getting the knowledge on English as the subject. The research has focused on why the school children in primary section, towards the back in learning English. Deficient of skills and competency on English how youth are potential fill the demands in job market.



The cognitive qualified workers appeared in the environment of diverse language talents. Thus single language ability is a poor help for searching and linking to dynamic international scenario. Where eligible from number of degrees, not be assist climb the ladder of carrier for the reason that missing the adroitness of English. Mostly the second languages has not utilized in tongue of rural studies. It directly affects the further of their education, attitudes and the personality. The research will be analysis and identified issue on primary school children who put forward the less weight on English.

It had been recognized contradictory ends as following:

From primary sector, English away from using

Looking for

White colure


Why the primary school children hard to fluent in English? Usually the time table of the school has allocated least one period (time wise 45 minutes) for English. In grade 1 the student commenced English with alphabet. Step by step switch on grammar. After the grade five, do they speak in English?


The Hypothesis is mentioned below.

Paying more emphasis to providing foundation skills to primary school children in rural areas will contribute to greater productivity in Sri Lanka.


General Objective:

  • Elevate the foundation dexterity of primary school children in rural area
  • Spot out the predicament for channeling the fruitful English teaching system for rural primary schools.
  • Diagnose the non educational factors impacts for sharing the foundation skills.
  • Describe the mingling of education with contemporary demands for high ranking occupations in market and why the link between job and education has failed.
  • Discuses on what paths can be improved the English for rural primary students.


The above denote hypothesis will be tested in this research utilizing simply framed methods. The data will be collected in order to source of

Primary sources Primary data refers information and evidence gathered by the researcher from primary sources. Field research, interviews, discussions, observations and group discussions are the key fountains for gathering the primary data. English Education in primary school children in rural area will be examined in the location of rural areas in Kandy, Matale, Rathnapura,Monarahala districts in Sri Lanka.

Secondary source Secondary data collection of information was based on documentary sources including publications, News paper articles and information were taken by surfing through the Internet.



In my words poverty is a complex phenomenon, which hardly defined. There are extreme poverty and relative poverty. The poverty occurs in the arena of economy and social stratus mainly. The poverty relevant to simply ideology of lack recourse and inequality of their distributions and high rank of needs, poverty in Sri Lanka is still largely rural phenomenon. Poor house hold tends to have higher dependency of ratios ion in labour force, and higher unemployment. As a developing state poverty is not new comer. It emerges won the sake of unemployment, the gap between the demand of the job in market and the supply of the qualified person for it

Those who are unable to afford basic necessities will certainly be regarded as poor. Individuals who lack access to essential collective goods and services will also normally be regarded as poor. Poverty means the impoverishment for accessing least of the basic needs. There are key Determents of poverty in Sri Lanka

  • Inadequacy growth and unequal opportunity
  • Armed conflict
  • Isolation and lack of economic integration
  • Limited access to high quality education
  • Limited access to basic social servers
  • Slow growth in agriculture
  • Lack of clear land tenure
  • Environmental degradation
  • Social exclusion and poverty lessens


The poor population in Sri Lanka consists mainly of the following,

  • Those living in remote isolated areas
  • Landless works in low wage occupations
  • Farmers cultivating low value crops
  • Fishes and lives stock

Poverty is predominately a rural phenomenon with near 90 percent of the poor residing in rural areas. Why does it spread in rural arena mainly? The argument behind it that, most of the rural areas still remain in the structure of Sri Lankan traditional feudal system whether absent of the compulsory labour and self sufficient, the rural areas are in the level of low income and inequality of the distribution and lack of knowledge. Their main revenue relies upon the cultivation and most of them are share plots cultivation.

The scarcity for nutrition, health and sanitation, water and education are the common surrounds which available with rural poverty. In 1996 the provincial poverty level ranged from 37 percent of the households in Uva province and 14 percent are in western province.


The high ranges of the poverty remain in the province of western. In urban as well in rural region in Colombo has the poverty in order to lack of the better income employment opportunities. poverty in Sri Lanka is predominantly a rural phenomenon. Close to 90 % of the poor are reported to live in rural areas. But estimates of rural and urban poverty should be interpreted with a great deal of caution because of the way in which ‘urban’ and rural are defined. Until the late 1980s, the areas under mincipal councils, urban councils and town councils were all classified as urban areas. In the early 1990s, the area under town councils was reclassified as rural..


According to consumption poverty estimates for 1995|1996, the extent poverty in urban, rural and estate sectors is 15%, 27% and 25% respectively, using the lower poverty line, and 25%,41% and 45% respectively, using the higher poverty line. According to the lower poverty line the estate sector has fared marginally better than the rural sector, and according to the higher poverty line the reverse is the case. In terms of social indicators, such as housing facilities, access to education and health services, access to safe drinking water, safe sanitation and electricity, infant mortality rate, and malnutrition, the estate sector, may be worse off than the rural sector.

Poverty in rural areas is the result of the less income and in equality of the distribution of the income way. For instance Monaragala is one of the poorest districts in Sri Lanka which depends on large amount of agriculture in come. The crops of agriculture base on the cornflakes and the vegetables chiefly. The value for the market in those crops is considerably less. Thus the poverty becomes a burning issue for the peasants in Monaragala. The urban sector has encompassed with poverty and its relate impacts as illiteracy, teenage prostitutes, and the drugs. The main shadow of the poverty in urban area is that cheap labour participation and cheap wages. the poverty is one of the outcome of the usage of illicit liquored. However poverty has inflicted comparatively more for the lives in rural areas.


Poverty is the giant feature for determining the fate and the nature of the society. In Buddhism, the load Buddha has preached that, before attain to listen to the ‘Dharama’, man should be filled their hunger. As a consequent except for removing the poverty, it is unable to prepare the mass mobilization through the education.

Anyway, C.W.W.Kannagara had facilitated the opportunity to study for the rural mass. Frequently “”Maha Vidyala ” concept had made the social mobilisation. Any way most of the production of the free education is the experts in the native language. Not only in senor schools even in the primary sector there was a back word for studding of the English education in rural areas.

In the primary area, the English education had the shortage value. The rooted fact is that poverty. Due to the poverty the family does not have the ability on education in English. The family background and rare possibility of reaching to English education, and inequality on distributing of the human and physical resources urge to put in down turn for the English education in rural area.

Accorded to basic education in labour market, about 2000 schools most of which are in poor rural areas, lack basic facilities such as desks, chairs and black boards. There is a key short age of quality inputs, particularly teaching materials in subjects such as science, mathematics, environmental science and English. Teacher short ages, and teacher absenteeism are serious problems in poor rural communities. teachers close to 27 % of the totals carder are untrained, and it is the untrained teachers who are primarily assigned to their poor, rural schools. Theirs lack training in instructing children with special needs ….” [2] 

The text books or the availability of the teachers are not only enough for the improving of the English education. The existed pattern of the primary school teaching method that starts with the alphabet and try to teach the grammar. The writing of the sentences in the black board is not enough because the language hardly learn through merely recitation. It should be learn from the usage. But the rural student has the disparity on attaining the school in daily. During the harvest gathering period, is being as the unpaid helper for his home. English is not their mother tongue. It is the new comer for them.

The methodology of teaching the language also contributed for shaping of the learning of the language. Vast numerical students unable to apply the English as the communication chancel at their house hold. Their parents and adults are away from the fluent in English. Thereby it is hard tasking them to learn the langue merely writing the black board. The state has followed up the strategically way for improving the education but there are doubt on those procedure, because the English teacher still not be able to fill the gap of learning and transforming to the fluently of the students from rural area.

The poverty causes to confine the upgrading of the studies. For instance, the basic elements for schooling as the stationeries stiff for the taking to the students in rural area. The price of the current exercise book is more that 50 rupees and it is a grim chore for the parents who live with daily income. Poverty alters the attitudes of the people. Most of the people, who are under the poverty line, do not want to or are powerlessness to send their children for the schools at least for the primary level. On the one hand it is expenses for them and the other child can be utilised as the labour for the house hold income.



The theory behind this is chapter that relative deprivation and modernization. Both theory are not only for the seeds for creating the conflict but got the unequal distribution of the resources. The distribution of resources has affected from the infrastructure and facilities. In usually pattern the periphery is nil with flourished infrastructure. There by the skill sharpen human resources not be easy to find in the periphery. All the fulfill segment of the human resources encompassed upon the core. For instance all the time, there are inadequate teachers are in the schools which locates in micro urban cities or categorized as the national schools.

For the one subject there are more teachers available. This blessing situation is not much familiar with the rural structure, in rural area there are less human resources for the teaching. For instance, in Rathnapura district, Imbulpe GN, the village known as ‘usbim janapadaya.’ It has established during 1972, The school in that village consist of maximum 200 students and the staffs are 10. There is none access road. The five Kilometres from the Imbulpe junction has to travel by the foot. The road which constructed not is suitable for the vehicle. The deputy principle once states that the staff in the school had the difficult rural services. Even there in none of the electricity. Because the electricity polls complicated to take from that road. However in 2010 one of the student in primary capable enough to receive the 130 marks for the competitive scholarship exam.

The deputy principle made more clear that if the school has the human resources, they can polish the students. The school has single English teacher. The human resources are not present due to failure of the development in infrastructure This situation directly involve with the education and its outcome. Thereby the gap available on the society between what expected and what received.


Modernization theory links to motivation and inducement of the teachers for engaging their tasks. The modernization policy will be confined to the core and it rare to filter to the periphery. Thereby the policy put the line in better the regions of modernized and in modernized. Through the researcher observation has set up that students in Colombo seven has the every facilities as opportunity to study of the computer technology, English and they can make the difference for their appearance even. Though in rural area as above mentioned, ‘Usbim janapadaya’, the students’ fingers not be lucky to touch the key board of the computers. The English is one of the fairies for their lives. The renew of the syllabus, distribution of the equipment dependent on the urban rural divisions. The primary in rural areas still playing with the seeds. The way to the modern technology is long for them. Because of the availability of the resources.


Physical resources mainly contain of the material elements. the researcher prefer to classify the physical resources in two lines.

Direct physical resources:- The direct physical resources mane the resources which affect directly to primary English education. They are text books, the quality of the school structure, and the opportunity for applying the audio and video visuals.

Indirect physical resources:- It relevant to infrastructure as roads, accessibility for the water and sanitation with the area of school and the electricity.

Text books has distributed by the government. The quality of the text books has changed now. They have composed in colour way. The pages are attracted for the eye. In fact the English text books have gone out of the conventional border of role play. The text books have included the details which relates to knowledge in other subjects. For instance the English text about the Sinharaja. It is not only way to improve the grammar but also way to improve the knowledge.

The audio and video is one of the hands to make closer for the education. for example, children love to watch the cartoons and movies. They don’t bother on the language. The experts in education have identified that, listing and watching capture the brain easier in the process of learning. Though in rural area, there are none of the audio and video visual rooms or the objects for the program. Urban national and popular schools, the primary students have obtained to read and watch the books and movies of the giant of the English literate, as William Shakespeare. In Sri Lankan rural primary students away from David Coffer filed Oliver Twists, Anna, and other famous stares in the children’s world.

A questionnaire survey was conducted by distributing a questionnaire shown in Annex ‘A’ to Primary English teachers those who are occupying at Rural ten Government schools in several rural areas in the Kandy, Matale, Rathnapura Districts and attention focused on availability of resources in the class rooms and the last years English Examinatiron results over the Grade four and five. [3] 

The quality of the structure indicates that not the two stairs building but hold the shelter which not get in rain and provide the assurance that walls not fallen down. For examples, in Kandy District, Lewalle GN Divison, ‘Navodhaya primary school’, has not even cleaned classes. Clean cites that the lack of dusty and the dirty and have the tidiness. Keeping of the class rooms in clean depends on the attitude of the teachers.

Most of rural roads in Sri Lanka are badly in need to repair work. Most of them un under control of the local governmental institutions. In modern days, they have been repaired or reconstructed by the government under the program of ‘maga naguma’. As the examples the roads in Rathanpura who is the first ranking district as the highest number of non electicity in island has the problem on transport. The DS divison , Kalawane, GN divion, Waddagala, has scarcity of roads and the transports. Most of the roads are damaged. The other fact that access for the drinking water and the sanitation.

Drinking water in rural areas has gained from the well, not by the pipe lines. The problem occurs during the draught time. In that period, the well get dried and it is a great difficult task to access for the water. Sanitation is one of the basic needs of the human lives. In Rural areas, there is deficient of cleaning services and the better sanitation facilities. For instance in Kandy District, Thalathoya Ds Divsion, Thalathuoya GN division, ‘Tamil primary school, ‘had not the sanitation facilities for the children.

The above mentioned fact are the discourage features for the student to attain the school. They decide the education of the child. The primary children reminiscent of the colours mainly dark colours. The colour of the walls by those dark colours and decorate the walls by their creations in English and hold the completion, and teach the good habits in English, and let them to speak not only for the 45 minutes but also for as long as the teacher can, are the way for supporting to them in learning of the English.


Human resources mentions that the availability for the teachers. The teachers cannot facilities in order to the counting of the heads of the children. However, the human resource in rural area for the English education is less compare to the urban cities. The lack of infrastructure is fewer inspirers for appointing in rural areas. For instance the output from the college of education should be in rural area for certain period. But they rarely prefer to get the appointment in rural area because of the lack of facilities. In some area, even imperfection on basic human needs as neutralized food, health care and drinking water.

The other point that, when reject and politicalised of appointments create the negative and aspect on the teacher. It also make the job dissatisfaction and because of it the teacher is not be able to work efficiently, effectively and creatively with the children.


Table 4: English teachers shortage per province

Sources Pracidental Advisor Sunimal Fernando ‘Speak English our way Observer News Paper Sunday 18 July 2010



Sri Lanka is a liberalist state. There by the private sector, semi government and the state sector engages in the market. The decision in the market has taking while respecting the freedom of the private sector. The current trend that, implies the neo liberalist model with the combination of the private and public partnership in the market. As a result of it, number of the institutions has alter on the concept of privatization. For instance Sri Lanka telecom, the postal services, Sri jayawardhana pura hospital and the end of the conflict open more investment for the individual or the private sector in the stream of education, hotel and tourism. Nonetheless, the job market ahs based on the economic policy of the government and quality of the job seeker.

The occupations are available in the sector of serve and productivity. Agriculture and readymade garments are the centralized point of the productivity. In the stripes of the services there are numbers in private and public sector. As the perspective of the researcher, if get a Sunday newspaper, there are quantity of the vacancies. Although the problem that unemployment. What is the different or space? The qualification for the most jobs not is able to qualified for the job seeker in Sri Lankan society. People have the documentary qualification but in practical they are not be more capable for doing a job. By the way there are unemployed or the people who look prolong the job for them. The matter that most of the unemployed are educated. Not merely pass the advanced level but graduated. Then why graduate exclude from the job market?



Education gives people better understanding of themselves and the surrounding and thereby improves the quality of their lives and leads to benefits both for the individual and the society. Italsoraisespeople’screativityandproductivityandpromotestechnological achievements d entrepreneurship, which has been demonstrated in several countries throughout the world. Even though no country has ever achieved sustained economic development without substantial investments in human capital, it is important to note that education by itself does not guarantee successful development

Therefore the fruitful human capital determined by the factor of health and education mainly. Sri Lanka has the universal education system. In logically the human capital should be fertilized from the free education. Though the free educated benefited rare receive the higher pay so called good jobs. The main reason is behind that English.


Unemployment has been a sensitive issue in Sri Lanka. This is mainly due to that the high levels of unemployment have predominantly been concentrated among educated youth. An even more serious aspect of the problem is that unemployment rate increases with the level of education [4] 


The above table indicates that unemployment in order to the education. According to the data below grade 5, there are less numeric comparatively to GCE Advanced level. The climbing of the education ladder allege for the good jobs, mainly in government with better payment. Though the current economic policy crates the situation for forming up the private sector rather state sector. As a result of it, the employment opportunity remains in largly in private sector not in state sector. Holding of the degree from national university is not enough for entering the soil of private sector. Because the transactions in the modern world have run through the English. The recognition for the English language is in first rank. The inability to mange with the English linguistic paradigm, cause to close the doors for getting jobs in private sectors.

The universal education system in Sri Lanka helps to improve the knowledge, attitudes and personality. Thereby why fundamental requirements for the English in job market is not succulently polish in the trough of the graduates. Particularly the graduates who have the roods in rural areas, have the difficulties on handling the English? The derivation of this insufficiently that failed of the English education in primary school sector.

Usual acceptance that, the language is learning during the age of 5-10 because at that period, whether making the faults not be considered. The age in primary schools are enough to learn the English but the deficit on the foundation skills reason to pulling back the students in learning of the English.

In modern Sri Lanka, there are number of institutions who offer the languages courses. These institutions conduct by the state or the private sector. The duration for the course is minimum a week or maximum a year. After the duration, the followed will be received the certificate under the words of successfully participation for the course or completed the course. Though in the interview panel, the in print grammar is not merely assist to raise the word as the answers in English.

The interviewee confidents be declining and it adds the negative marks. The answer for it that why it happen in Sri Lanka, because the Sri Lankan primary education does not reach its end productively. In the primary section, parents and teachers connect to the competition of pass the grade five scholarships not the fluent in English. Not as in early in modern time, there is none gab in rural or in urban schools to pass the grade 5 scholarship. All the students are in chain of the scholarship process. Thereby the valuable for the English education in primary level has reduced.


Present Sri Lankan education system has planned by the concept of universal education pattern. Therefore up the primary education least is compulsory for all and there is not the difference of the gender for accessing the education institutions.

The Quality of the education has determined by one of the essential fact called poverty. The poverty is the major impact of the less developing county and it spreads in all the vain of the state. The poverty decides accessibility of the education. Even it affects to distribute of the resources. The infrastructure, health, physical resources as desks, the textbooks, sanitation and drinking water are the points indomitable the quality of the education. The scrutinized analysis has mentioned that, the poverty in rural area directly impinge on education.

The main income of the rural area base on the agriculture. As the country who ahs the less organized agriculture sector with few dominated groups in distribution of agricultural production, expand the poverty. The poverty has linked to the house hold consumption and shape the opportunity for the students to attain the schools. The child- labour is one of the income for the people in rural area who ahs in poverty. There by among the stream of education or the employment, the children in rural area have chosen the employment not the education.

The resources distribution and allocation also manipulates the English education inn primary sector. The physical as well as the human resource influence for the way of learning the language in rural primary schools in Sri Lanka. The distribution of the text books is not singularly hep for developing the linguistic capacity. There are extra ways to sharpen the skills on language. The rural schools do not have resources for applying those extra ways to achieving the goal of English education in Sri Lanka.

English is an international language. It is the path for communication with diversity. The global village has depended on the computer. The language in computer is English. The world link wire named internet operates with English. Therefore without talent in English it is in convenient to find a better paid job in existing Sri Lankan structure


The human capital in modern world has gained the worth. The human capital has flourished form the dual task mainly, English and technological knowledge. The less of the skills in both causes to reduce the value of the human capital. As country of developing, human capital in Sri Lankan, market has the greatest posit

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