“ELTU becomes a Department” from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

The English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) of the University of Kelaniya marked the achievement of the departmental status making it the 10th Department of the Faculty of Humanities on the 5th of June 2017. The building housing the Department of English Language Teaching was named as “Manique Gunesekera Memorial Building” in memory of late Prof. Manique Gunesekera and was formally acknowledged at the same function.

The Department of English Language Teaching was founded as a sub-unit of the Department of English in the 1960s and its first Head was Mr. Reggie Siriwardene who was an eminent poet and dramatist in Sri Lanka. Amidst many struggles, the dream of establishing an ELTU was achieved in 1991 with Prof. Manique Gunesekera as its Head. The ELTU was shifted to the Faculty of Humanities building in 1992. It obtained its own building in 1997. Undoubtedly, the DELT was made possible because of the vision of late Prof. Manique Gunesekera and naming the building was a tribute to her. Ms. Mahishi Ranaweera, the first Head of the Department of English Language Teaching speaking at the event said that not only the DELT at Kelaniya, but the entire ELTU system of this country owes Prof. Manique Gunesekera a debt of gratitude for making this wave.

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“Professor Manique Gunesekera Commemorative Oration on the 19th of December at the University of Kelaniya” from ELTU

When Professor Manique Gunesekera suddenly left this world on the 4th of December 2015, she created a void that cannot be filled in the lives of her friends, colleagues, students and admirers. She was not only one of the most distinguished and internationally renowned academics in the field of English Studies and Linguistics in Sri Lanka but also a truly great and unique personality that has mesmerised and inspired all of us who are privileged to have known her.

Professor Gunesekera (1953- 2015) joined the academia in 1979 as an assistant lecturer at the Department of English of the University of Kelaniya where she subsequently became Head and Chair Professor. Also, she played a vibrant role as the Head of the English Language Teaching Unit of the University. She was Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies from 2011 to 2014. A former Fulbright Scholar, she completed her Master’s and PhD in Linguistics at the University of Michigan, Ann-Arbor in the USA. Professor Gunesekera’s key academic contributions include her authoritative book, “The Post-Colonial Identity of Sri Lankan English” and her role as a valiant activist to promote the use and recognition of Standard Sri Lankan English. As a member of the Presidential Task Force on Teaching English, Prof. Gunesekera campaigned for re-introducing English at Grade 1 in Sri Lankan state schools.

Her monumental role in changing the linguistic landscape through her mission to make English available to all will never be forgotten by those who were inspired by her. In addition to a long and illustrious career as one of the most distinguished university academics in Sri Lanka, she has held teaching posts and fellowships in reputed international universities such as the University of Michigan (USA), Oakland University (USA) and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore).

To celebrate our cherished memories of Professor Gunesekera and to mark her first death anniversary, the English Language Teaching Unit of the University of Kelaniya is organising Professor Manique Gunesekera Commemorative Oration, which will be delivered by Prof. Arjuna Parakrama, Chair of English, University of Peradeniya. The oration will be held on the 19th of December, 2016 from 4.00 p.m. onwards at the Kotahene Sri Pagnakitti Nayake Thero Memorial Hall (K14) of the University of Kelaniya.

The English Language Teaching Unit cordially invites the students, colleagues, friends and admirers of Professor Gunesekera to join us to commemorate a beautiful life that has had an immeasurable impact on our lives. Please RSVP to Rusiru (rusiru.chitrasena@gmail.com) or Hasitha (hasithapathirana@gmail.com) by 10th December 2016.

English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU)
University of Kelaniya,