State, Market, and Prospects for the Public Sphere
A Study of Sri Lankan Higher Education during the Pandemic
Keywords:Public sphere, Covid–19, Sri Lanka, Free education
In this article, we examine the discourse that has come to the fore on the challenges faced by Sri Lanka’s state education sector – better known as ‘free education’ – in the backdrop of Covid–19. Sri Lankan free education constitutes an ideological project that ventures beyond pedagogy and into the terrain of egalitarian social transformation. However, much of this ethico-ideological commitment has been abandoned in the interest of ‘getting things done’ in the context of the pandemic and the consequent shift to online delivery of education. Critically interrogating the debate around this issue, we submit that the seeping of market rationality into the university space erodes into the inclusivity, commonality, autonomy, and criticality that define the public sphere that the university is assumed to constitute.
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