1st Edition

Globalisation, Employment and Education in Sri Lanka Opportunity and Division

By Angela W. Little, Siri T. Hettige Copyright 2013
    288 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Since the late 1970s, Sri Lanka has undergone a socio-economic transformation, from protectionism towards economic liberalisation and increasing integration into the world economy. Through a systematic comparison of these periods of economic change (1956–1977, and 1977 to the present), Angela W. Little and Siri T. Hettige examine the impact of this transformation on education, youth employment and equality of opportunity in Sri Lanka.

    The book charts Sri Lanka’s shift from a predominantly agricultural economy to one dominated by services and manufacturing, a reduction in unemployment, rising educational and occupational levels, expectations and achievements, and a reduction in poverty. In turn, it reveals a growing role for the private sector and foreign interests in post-secondary education and a modest growth in private education at the primary and secondary levels, as well as widening social disparities in access to qualifications, training and skills. The Sri Lankan experience of, and engagement with, globalisation has been tempered by a long-running ethnic conflict that hindered economic and social development and diverted considerable public funds into defence and war. Now that the war is ‘won’, the challenge is how to invest in human resource development and the fulfilment of the expectations of youth from all ethnic and social groups. This challenge requires serious policy analysis, the generation of more state revenues, the reallocation of existing public resources, and a political commitment to the winning of a sustainable peace and stability.

    This book makes an important contribution to the broader international literature on the implications of globalisation for education policy and practice, and to the interaction of exogenous and endogenous forces for educational change. It deals with the tension between the high social demand for education and the growing demand for specialised skills in a changing economy. As such, it has a wide interdisciplinary appeal across education policy and politics, Asian education, South Asian society, youth policy, sociology of education, political economy of social change, and globalisation.

    1. Globalisation and Education: International and Sri Lankan Perspectives 2. Colonial and Post Colonial Education Policy 3. Protectionism, Open Economy and the Class Structure 4. Employment, Skills, Education and Opportunities 5. The New Business of Foreign Education 6. Youth Aspirations and Expectations for Education and Livelihoods 7. Education, Identity Formation and Citizenship 8. Comparing Sri Lanka with the Asian Tigers and the BRICS 9. Conclusions


    Angela W. Little is Professor Emerita at the Institute of Education, University of London, UK.

    Siri T. Hettige is Senior Professor of Sociology at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

    "A comprehensive overview of the education system, policies and infrastructure in Sri Lanka"

    Gloria Spittel, National University of Singapore

    "The achievement of this outstanding book is that through the elaboration of the findings, analysis and interpretation, readers gain additional understanding of how globalisation is related to education"

    Darko Strajn

    International Review of Education 

    "The authors must be commended for the comprehensiveness with which they explore the shifts in education in the post-1977 period, and how these changes are linked to globalization and the resulting change in the employment market..the book can provide valuable insights on the need to reform the education sector, so that it is given the flexibility to change with time and cater to the different needs of the economy."

    Nisha Arunathilake, Institute of Policy of Studies of Sri Lanka Colombo, Sri Lanka

    South Asia Economic Journal, 15, 2 (2014): 343-348