• Postwar reconciliation: parental attitudes towards Sri Lanka's trilingual education policy

      Malalasekera, Nimasha S.; Marlow, Patrick; Siekmann, Sabine; Martelle, Wendy (2019-08)
      After 26 years, the ethnic-based civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009. The Trilingual Education Policy seeks to reconcile the estranged Sinhalese and Tamil communities by teaching each community the other's language in this postwar context. Scholars argue that national reconciliation through Trilingual Education is unlikely to succeed because of the continued mistrust and prejudice between the two communities and the demand for English as key to social mobility and economic prosperity. Since these claims are not supported by empirical evidence, this study seeks to find empirical data to support or counter these claims. The study investigates parental attitudes to their second languages, Sinhala, Tamil, and English, the three languages of the Trilingual Education Policy to understand its likely success. Twenty-one parents whose children receive Sinhala, Tamil, and English L2 tuition in Colombo 5 were selected through convenience sampling. The study uses the constructivist grounded theory, mentalist approach to language attitudes, and concepts of capital and linguicism for data analysis. The study found that Sinhala has capital for the Tamils and is valued and glorified by them, whereas Tamil has no capital for the Sinhalese and is devalued and stigmatized by them. Both groups valorize and glorify English, for it has more capital than Sinhala/Tamil both locally and translocally. Concluding that the Trilingual Education Policy is unlikely to succeed because of linguicism, the study recommends providing incentives for learning Sinhala and Tamil and advocating dual language education for reconciling the two communities.