Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Faculty of Education


This study explores challenges of sustainable and effective professional development for English as Second Language (ESL) teachers in Sri Lanka. It aims to critically examine how the existing English teacher education system as a whole responds to the wider context of the crisis of sustainability in the quality of teaching and learning. It further aims to investigate perceptions of various stakeholders regarding issues, concerns and constraints of ESL teachers in order to explore approaches, strategies and changes needed to enhance effective and sustainable English teacher education within the system.

In order to capture the complexity of the education system as a whole, ‘Systems Thinking’ paradigm has been adopted. It views the organizational behaviour and its respective environment as a complex whole of interrelating, interdependent parts rather than fragmented entities, which go beyond simple cause and effect relationships. A qualitative research approach has been used to investigate the experiences, opinions, presuppositions, and interpretations of stakeholders in this complex context. The multiple case studies conducted via fifty-seven informants represent the whole education system namely at the higher, middle and classroom management levels. The methods of data collection encompass focus groups, semi structured interviews and analysis of documents. Six key themes emerged from the analysis of data, namely policy and reforms; administration and management; implementation; structure; curriculum development; and working environment and resources. The research findings reveal the necessity for well-documented policies for English teacher education and the need for systemic management and administration with a shared vision, collaboration and personal mastery to establish tri-level development and effective networks. The lack of sufficient resources is found to be a key challenge in promoting sustainable and effective professional development practices island-wide. These findings are also the bases for recommendations and further research to cater for the socio-economic-political and global demands of post-colonial Sri Lanka.

02Whole.pdf (3299 kB)



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.