Sustaining and secularising mission schools
in Missionaries and modernity
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Chapter 4 focuses upon the Church Missionary Society in Sri Lanka, and by doing so explores the establishment of schools within this heterogeneous cultural, social and religious landscape. Through examining autobiographical writings of converts in Ceylon, the chapter explores the various roles Christian schooling played in influencing their life choices. Sri Lanka is a complex site where religious identities, castes and political identities were in constant flux. The chapter argues that in the framework of missionary modernity, morality, rather than academic aptitude, was the foremost quality that missionaries desired in their teachers. Yet for local people, the reasons to become teachers were complex and not just an expression of faith. In a second section, the chapter contrasts the relationship between government and Christian schools in Sri Lanka with examples in India. It argues that even under a liberal religious-equality model within a government system, as was practised in Sri Lanka, mission schools were progressively secularised over the century, partly due to the forces from outside and the demands of ‘modernisation’. In doing so, the chapter provides a framework in which to conceptualise government funding and inspection as a form of secularisation of mission schools.

Missionaries and modernity

Education in the British Empire, 1830–1910

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