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“Marrying the Monster”: World Bank Loans and English Language Projects in Sri Lankan Universities

Author:

Kaushalya Perera

University of Colombo, LK
About Kaushalya
Senior Lecturer, Department of English
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Abstract

A large portion of the World Bank’s loans for universities in Sri Lanka is provided for English language learning programs. The justification has been the necessity of English language proficiency for creating an employable graduate, and in so doing, to advance the economic prospects of the country. This is in line with the World Bank’s global education policy agenda. Even though the Bank has provided Sri Lanka loans for the development of higher education for two decades, there is little independent research on their impact. There is also a gap in our knowledge of its policy on language education. This article aims to contribute to these areas, drawing on a qualitative study of the English language component in World Bank funded projects in Sri Lankan universities from 2003-2016. It uses data from semi-structured interviews with academics who were involved in the projects and selected documents from the bank’s projects. Three principal themes are discussed: a) the coercive conditionalities that accompany these loan projects, b) participants’ queries on whether the real needs of the student population were met, and c) changes to academic practices. The article ends with recommendations and a call for further research.
How to Cite: Perera, K. (2021). “Marrying the Monster”: World Bank Loans and English Language Projects in Sri Lankan Universities. University of Colombo Review, 2(1), 42–60. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/ucr.v2i1.38
Published on 01 May 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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