Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

From Free Education to Utilitarianism; Mapping the Pedagogical Struggles of the Unheard in the Era of COVID-19

Chamali Kulathunga, University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)

Swapni Hapuarachchi, University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)

Fairoza Fairooz, University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)


The Sri Lankan constitution assures citizens of the country the right to universal and equal access to education at all levels. This was further facilitated by the free education system introduced in 1943, increasing educational opportunities for economically marginalized families. However, with the mandatory shift to an asynchronous education system due to COVID-19, the focus has moved from the learning rights of the individual to the mere continuation of education for the ‘greater good’, making it a utilitarian decision. This ‘progressive’ approach has further marginalized the economically disadvantaged students who have become the collateral damage of education during COVID-19. As discussed by Kandiah and Parakrama, English teaching and learning in Sri Lanka systematically discriminates a considerable number of students socially, politically and linguistically. These realities combined with the online education system have further discriminated/ distanced students from learning the English language.  As ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers we aim to focus on this group of students who have been swept under the rug by the current educational practice(s). The study takes a dual approach of autoethnography and informal discussions with 80 undergraduates from faculties of Allied Health Sciences and Arts of University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Our findings show that economically marginalized students who already find learning English challenging, are further challenged on virtual platforms, and how this severity has heightened through technical and financial difficulties in accessing online education. Therefore, this study attempts to unveil the pedagogical struggles of these students and calls for the need for a more inclusive, accessible and equitable alternative.

Keywords: Utilitarianism, Online education, ESL. 

Back to the list

Reserved area

Media Partners:

Pixel - Via Luigi Lanzi 12 - 50134 Firenze (FI) - VAT IT 05118710481
    Copyright © 2023 - All rights reserved

Privacy Policy