|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
Part I Descriptive Section
The completion of this report is a result of the assistance extended and support given by various persons and organisations to the National Committee on EFA Year 2000 Assessment. On behalf of the National Committee I wish to thank all of them.
The following persons are specially mentioned herein with a deep sense of gratitude for the co-operation extended.
My sincere thanks are extended to the following
The services rendered by the following are praiseworthy
This project was made a reality due to the services extended by all of them. I wish to acknowledge their co-operation in this regard.
Prof. Lal Perera/ National Co-ordinator 30.09.1999
Ministry of Education & Higher Education
Isurupaya, Battaramulla /Sri Lanka
Education for All The Year 2000 Assessment
The World Conference on Education for All held in 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand pledged to take necessary steps to provide basic education for all children, youth and adults and to reduce illiteracy. Immediately following the Conference, the International Consultative Forum on Education for All was set up as a mechanism to promote, and monitor the progress of the goals of Education for All. In addition, it was agreed that progress towards achieving EFA goals will be gauged at two distinct points i.e. mid-decade and at the end of year 2000. The Mid-Decade Review held in 1996 in Amman, Jordan to assess the status and trends of EFA in respective countries showed that there was a widespread support for goals and principles embodied in the World Declaration on Education for All and its Framework for Action.
The Government of Sri Lanka has participated in the above two World Conferences and is committed to adopt the principles of Education for All goals and to take necessary steps to achieve them. Sri Lanka has made significant endeavours even before the Jomtien Conference towards universalizing primary education and providing extended opportunities for learning to its citizens. Significant measures, such as the provision of free education, free text books, free mid-day meals, free uniforms etc. have been successfully implemented from time to time and are still in vogue for achieving the target of Education for All. Since 1990, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) has taken further measures to achieve the above target. The enactment of the Compulsory Education Regulations and setting up of committees at village level to promote participation in primary education in 1997, reforms effected in the curriculum, strengthening the infrastructure of the primary level education since January 1999, improvements effected in the printing of school text books, reforms introduced in the teachers training programmes (pre-service and in-service) and changes proposed in the assessment of students learning competencies (school based assessment scheme) are a few of such significant measures. Education for All campaign, comprises six dimensions. They are Early Childhood Care and Development, Primary Education, Learning Achievement and Outcomes, Adult Literacy, Training in Essential Skills and Education for Better Living.
The present assessment of the achievements of Education for All by the year 2000 is mainly based on 18 Core Indicators proposed by the Forum Secretariat in its Technical Guidelines. The National Committee set up to prepare the EFA 2000 Assessment Report comprises the representatives from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Ministry of Womens Affairs, Universities, National Institute of Education, Department of Examinations, Provincial Education Authorities, Non Government Organisation and University Grants Commission.
In preparing the Report the following strategies were used together information:
A survey conducted island wide using a sample of households to gather information about ECCD and rates of adult literacy.
A survey on achievement levels of Grade 5 students;
A modified questionnaire used in the school census conducted in June 1999 to assess many of the 18 indicators.
This Report comprises three parts as follows :
Part 1 Introduction, EFA Goals : Targets and Strategies
Part 2 - EFA Goals : Status and Trends
Part 3-National Agenda for the Future : Suggestions and
A major limitation of the assessment was the difficulty in obtaining data from the war torn Northern and Eastern Provinces. In many instances only the data obtained from other provinces were used for the analysis. Another difficulty encountered was the lack of updated demographic data due to an absence of population census since 1981. Some schools too had not kept systematic records, and therefore were unable to provide data requested in the School Census.
Professor Lal Perera
ADB Asian Development Bank
ADE Assistant Director of Education
ADG Assistant Director General
DE Director of Education
DDE Deputy Director of Education
DFID Department for International Development
DOE Department of Examinations
ECCD Early Childhood Care and Development
EFA Education for All
EMIS Educational Management Information System
ESCAP Economic and Social Co-operation for Asia Pacific
GCE (O/L) General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level)
GCE (A/L) General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level)
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GER Gross Enrolment Rate
GNP Gross National Product
GTZ German Agency for Technical Co-operation
LGPI Literacy Gender Parity Index
MEHE Ministry of Education and Higher Education
MLA Monitoring Learning Achievement
MPPE Master Plan for Primary Education
MTIP Medium Term Investment Plan
NA Not Available
NAITA National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority
NATE National Authority on Teacher Education
NCOE National College of Education
NER Net Enrolment Ratio
NEC National Education Commission
NFED Non Formal Education Department
NGO Non Governmental Organisation
NIE National Institute of Education
NYSC National Youth Services Council
PDE Provincial Director of Education
PEPP Primary Education Planning Project
PME Provincial Ministry of Education
PMP Primary Mathematics Project
PSEDP Plantation Sector Education Development Project
PTR Pupil Teacher Ratio
RR Ready Reckoner
SBA School Based Assessment
SIDA Swedish International Development Agency
TETD Teacher Education and Teacher Deployment
UGC University Grants Commission
UNESCO United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation
UNICEF United Nations Childrens Fund
Part 1 Introduction, (EFA Goals, Targets and Strategies)
The part I includes basic information on geography, economy and Education of Sri Lanka. In addition it gives the present status of achieving EFA goals its targets and strategies
Sri Lanka : Background Information
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island in the Indian Sub-Continent, lying about 070 North and 820 East. Its area is about 65,610 sq. km and it measures 435km from North to South and 225km from East to West. The coastal plains with an average temperature of 260C give rise to central highlands, with the temperatures ranging from 100C - 200C. For administrative and educational purposes, the country is divided into nine provinces.
In Sri Lanka 72.2 percent of the population live in rural areas, 3.6 percent live in the plantation sector and the rest in urban areas. In 1998, the population was estimated to be over 18 million. The population growth rate is 1.2. The total population is expected to be well beyond 20 million by the year 2000 and above 27 million by the year 2040. Sri Lanka is a multi- ethnic and multi-religious country. According to the 1981 census Sinhalese comprise the majority representing 74 percent of the population, Sri Lankan Tamils account for 12.6 percent, while the Moors comprise 7.1 percent and the balance is made up of Indian Tamils, Europeans, Eurasians, Malays and Others. Religion wise 69.4 percent of the population are Buddhists, with about 15.5 percent Hindus, 7.5 percent Moslems and 7.6 percent Christians.
(c ) Economy
During the past, the major source of external income was the export of tea, rubber and coconut. Before 1995, the percentage of those earnings were about 60 percent of the total
export earnings and it comprised 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). At present non-traditional exports such as textiles and apparel have become the main sources
of export income. The largest share of foreign exchange comes from the remittances from emigrant workers. The composition of GDP in 1998 was: agriculture 21.3 percent, industry 25.4 percent and services 53 percent. The Gross National Product (GNP) in 1998 was Rs. 9980 billion and per capita GNP was US$ 823. In 1998 the rate of growth of GDP (in real terms) was 4.7; the Human Development Index was 0.704.
Education is highly valued by all groups of people in Sri Lanka. This veneration for education derives from different ethno-religious traditions, such as in the case of Buddhism. The basic of its philosophy led to the establishment of the earliest universities in the world among which the Mahavihara and Abhayagiriya Universities were the most ancient ones. Traditionally the principles of free education, equity and access to education had been well established in these institutions.
The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (1978) affirms the need for the complete eradication of illiteracy and assure the citizens the right to universal and equal access to education at all levels. This policy conforms to the Article No. 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which proclaims that every citizen has a right to education. Introduction of free education from primary level up to university level, and changing the medium of instruction from English to mother tongue i.e. Sinhala and Tamil, were landmarks in this regard. Later, bringing all private and assisted schools under government control, providing free mid-day meals, subsidised transport, free text books, free uniforms and giving financial assistance through scholarships at various levels are some of the distinct measures adopted by all successive governments during the past
50 years, to accomplish the aim of widening equal educational opportunities. In 1997, the government enacted regulations to ensure compulsory attendance of children, in the age range from 5-14 years.
The schools in Sri Lanka can be divided in to two categories as non-government and government schools. Non-government schools consist of estate schools, pirivenas, special schools, approved/certified schools, pre-schools and international schools. Pirivenas are educational institutes attached to Buddhist temples, catering mainly to Buddhist monks and also conducting general education classes for male students who do not attend formal schools. Out of the total number of 11,272 schools in 1998 only 629 were non- government schools. The 10,643 government schools are categorized as follows:
1AB Schools -having classes from grade 1 13 or 6 13 with advanced level classes in science, arts, commerce and aesthetic streams.
1C schools - having classes from grade 1 13 with advanced level streams other than in science.
Type 2 schools - having classes from grade 1 11.
Type 3 schools - having classes from grade 1 5.
There is another category of government schools named as "National Schools" to which mainly the 1AB schools are promoted and controlled by the Line Ministry as against the other state schools which are under the control of the Provinces. The total number of pupils is 4,260,989 (1997) where the number of girls and boys are almost equal. Around 43 percent are in the primary cycle of grade 1 to 5; twenty five percent in the junior secondary cycle of year 6 to 8; and 25 percent are in senior secondary classes of grade 9 to 11 and 7 percent in advanced level classes. About 58 percent of pupils attend type 1AB and type C schools, 42 percent are in types 2 and 3 schools. The countrys teaching force
consists of 179,589 teachers, (1995) two out of three being female. Around 27 percent are university graduates, 20 percent are professionally untrained and the others are trained or certified teachers.
The levels of education provided through the school system can be divided as follows:
A Primary Education Grades 1 5 5 years
B Junior Secondary Education Grades 6 9 4 years
C Senior Secondary Education Grades 10 11 2 years
Grades 12 13 2 years
The first three levels comprising grades 1-11 form the free access span indicating the aim of 11 years of schooling.
Three public examinations are held during the span of 13 years. The grade 5 scholarship examination is held at the end of the primary cycle to award scholarships to students who need financial assistance and for selection to "popular schools". At the end of grade 11 the GCE (O/L) examination is held to select students for higher education and employment. The GCE (A/L) examination is the other examination held at the end of grade 13 that serves two purposes, such as selection for universities and certification for employment.
(e) Administrative and supervisory structure
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education is responsible for designing, implementation, control and maintenance of general education, teacher education and technical education in Sri Lanka. The Minister of Education and Higher Education who is the executive head of the Ministry is assisted by two Deputy Ministers. The Secretary to the Ministry who is also the Director General of Education is responsible for all supervisory and managerial activities of the entire education system. The Education Services Committee which is an independent body is responsible for recruitment, promotion, transfer and disciplinary matters of teachers and officers in the
Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service. Functions such as curriculum development, preparation of syllabi etc. are mandated to the National Institute of Education. The matters related to Universities and other Higher Education Institutes are handled by the University Grants Commission. Consequent to the enactment of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the establishment of Provincial Councils the Provincial Departments of Education, headed by the Provincial Director of Education (PDE) came into being. The PDE is responsible for the planning, implementation, management and direction of all educational programmes in the Province.
Since 1970s, the Non Formal Education Unit has been functioning within MEHE. Throughout the island Adult Education Centres and Technical Education Units are established and monitored by this Unit at MEHE. A special cadre of Adult Education Officers are entrusted with the task of taking leadership in organising and managing activities and relevant courses in these centres mainly to meet the needs of adults and young school leavers. Developing income-generating skills is emphasised in some of the courses, while developing functional literacy is the major objective in certain other courses. In addition to the courses organised by the state, several non-governmental organisations too provide various Non Formal Education Programmes including adult education.
In Sri Lanka two types of programmes are implemented in relation to special education. One is the integrated special education programme under which handicapped children attend normal schools and learn with normal children. The other is the special schools programme where handicapped children learn in special schools which are mostly residential.
Pre-school education in Sri Lanka does not come under the purview of state managed general education. However, some pre-school facilities are provided by local government authorities, non governmental organisations and by the private sector, preferably on a fee-levying basis. It is estimated that around 90 percent of children attend pre-schools for periods ranging from a few months to one or two years.
In Sri Lanka, the responsibility of setting up of pre-schools and day care centres lies in the hands of individuals, private organisations and non-governmental organisations. The functions of these pre-schools and day care centres are mainly preparing children for the formal school and facilitating the working parents in their duties regarding child- care. From 1970s the responsibility of providing pre-school and day care facilities for the children of working mothers of the Estate Sector was identified as a responsibility of the estate management. As a result in every estate, pre-schools and day care centres were established. The government does not consider the training of pre-school teachers as one of its responsibilities. Hence, it has been undertaken mainly by the private institutions. The Open University of Sri Lanka also provides training programmes for pre-school teachers. The government policy of non-intervention in pre-school education is under- going changes. The Presidential Task Force (PTF) in Education has suggested some strategies for the improvement of early child care and pre-school education through which government participation in this sphere would increase. The PTF has requested the provincial authorities to increase the number of pre-schools and day care centres and maintain them properly. Regulations will be enacted in order to improve the monitoring and supervision of these institutions. The PTF will take steps to prepare a common curriculum with the assistance of Universities, MEHE and other related organisations. Arrangements are being made to establish a Department of Child Development and a Child Study Centre at the Open University of Sri Lanka. The functions of this Centre are to organise evaluation and research programmes in relation to ECCD activities. Much
attention has been paid by the government to improve the levels of health and nutrition of children of pre-school age. Awareness programmes for mothers, and other health-related programmes have been already launched by the government with the assistance of UNICEF and WHO.
Universalization of Primary Education and broadening the opportunity for access to primary education was a major target of the government even before the year 1990. In this regard Sri Lanka has set several goals and targets which are as follows:
Improvement in learning achievements has been one of the main concerns of the government. Following are some of the activities carried out in this regard :
According to the Central Bank data sources, in 1981 the literacy rate in Sri Lanka was estimated as 88.6 percent. The male literacy rate was 91 percent and the female literacy rate was 83 percent. By 1994 this had increased upto 90 percent. A noteworthy improvement, nevertheless, is the improvement of the gender parity from 63 percent to 96 percent during the 50 years of independence. As regards the outcomes of this pervasive commitment to improve education one may note several relevant indicators: an Education Index of 0.83 and a Human Development Index of 0.704, (UN Human Development Report, 1998), a Life Expectancy of 72.2 years, an Infant Mortality rate of 17, a Birth Rate of 1.8 and a Total Fertility Rate of 2.2. During 1990s, however, a significant decline in the school age population occurred, mainly as a result of continuous decline in the birth rates. This led to a shift in the emphasis from quantitative expansion (except at the upper, secondary and tertiary levels) to quality improvement in the education sector.
1.3 Expansion of basic education and training in other essential skills
required by youths and adults
The educational needs of the adults and children who had dropped out from school were not paid much attention until a Non-Formal Education Unit was formed in the MEHE. In 1970s a special department for non-formal education (NFED) was established and a heightened interest in adult education was witnessed. This non-formal education unit launched several programmes for providing education in different areas. Non-formal education has now become a part of the accepted government policy on education. In 1992, NFED conducted four programmes for children, youths and adults. They are skill development programmes for school leavers, literacy programmes for non-school goers and primary school drop-outs, adult education / community education programmes and English language classes for adults. These programmes are continuing.
Non-formal education programmes supported by donor agencies such as UNICEF, and SIDA are also in progress. Existing infrastructure facilities of schools are being utilised for these programmes.
A proposal to introduce an Open School to organise courses for those who have left the formal education system is under consideration. The framework and the curriculum is being planned by the NIE and ready for implementation. Also a Special Department of Non-Formal Education is set up at the NIE for research and development work in this field.
In the non-government sector many Social Service and Voluntary organisations conduct various types of Non-Formal Education Programmes. Their main concern is about income generating activities such as handicrafts and farming.
1.4 E.F.A. Strategy and Plan of Action
The historic commitment of Sri Lanka to make education accessible to all through the decades beginning in the nineteen thirties was pursued with greater vigour after independence. This led to high rates of literacy, high enrolment, and above all in the elimination of gender disparities. The continued commitment to free education has been enhanced by extending its scope to include the provision of free textbooks and free school uniforms. The scholarship scheme available to those in grades 6 and above has been expanded. While access widened rapidly to reach all barring those in very disadvantaged situations, access to a better quality of education was not so pervasive. School education, however, continued to be mainly examination-oriented. Efforts made from the early seventies to make education more relevant contextually as well as to reduce the restrictive and constrictive influence of the public examinations were thwarted by the people who through the years have been persuaded to think of education only from an examination perspective. Recognising the need for quick and effective remedial measures the government has taken several major steps. Some of such very important steps are as follows:
(a). Establishing a "Primary Education Unit" at the MEHE headed by a Director especially to design, implement and monitor all activities related to primary education.
A comprehensive education reform is implemented from 1998. Under this reform a competency based curriculum was designed, piloted in a sample of schools and implemented island wide in 1999. This revision focussed its attention on providing Learner-Centered activities rather than book learning and desk work. Learning through enjoyable learning events was encouraged. Among other things the improvement of infrastructure of the classroom, the teaching-learning environment, improving the quality of text books and up grading of teacher training facilities are noteworthy.
The difficulty of ensuring provision of schooling under stable conditions in the Northern and Eastern provinces which are affected by unsettled conditions has hampered the efforts to improve education in all parts of the country. The government maintains the schools, pays the teachers, holds public examinations and provides free text-books and curricular guides even in respect of areas in these provinces which are subject to unsettled conditions as is also done in the case of provision of food and health care. However significant numbers of the population in these provinces are now living as refugees in the adjoining provinces utilising available schooling facilities. The schooling in areas immediately adjacent to these provinces is also adversely affected because of continuing threats of displacement and the lack of teachers.
1.5 Decision - making and management
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) is the authority for decision making on all education policies, plans and implementation. The National Education Commission (NEC) was instituted in 1991. The proposals for reforms in education now being implemented were made by the NEC. A Presidential Task Force on Education was set up in 1997 to make further and more detailed recommendations regarding educational reforms. This Task Force now monitors the implementation of the reforms and advises MEHE on related matters. Hence
the highest level of political leadership and decision making is now visible in the field of education. The provision and administration of education became a
function devolved to a large extent to the newly constituted Provincial Councils in 1987. The Ministry retained responsibility for national level policies and their implementation. The responsibility for all institutional teacher education, curriculum development and public examinations is also retained by MEHE and executed through its statutory agencies such as National Authority on Teacher Education (NATE), National Institute of Education (NIE) and the Department of
Examinations (DOE). The funds for the Provincial Ministries of Education (PMEE) come from the government. The Provincial Ministries of Education (PMEE) have the authority to decide implementation strategies within their areas of jurisdiction and control the schools and teacher deployment in the schools in the Provinces except in the case of National Schools which come directly under MEHE. This policy of decision making and management has facilitated the effective functioning of the primary education system.
1.6 Co-operation in EFA
In Sri Lanka, the Government is the primary provider of basic education services. With the exception of a few private schools (79) and an even smaller number of what are called " international schools". All of the countrys schools are managed and financed by the government through MEHE and PMEE. Several external agencies have supported the education system and EFA strategies in the country. UNICEF continues to provide long term assistance in promoting early childhood care and development of literacy centres, and quality improvement of primary education. Currently the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are providing substantial assistance in the strategic areas of teacher education, curriculum development, improvement in testing and assessment programmes, text book production and physical infra-structure development. These agencies have also supported studies in critical areas through the provision of consultants. The Swedish and German International Development agencies SIDA, and GTZ are among the continuously active co-operating partners and their assistance mainly in
fields pertaining to disadvantaged groups, are directly relevant to EFA concerns. Under the SIDA funding project a special programme is carried out in the estate
sector with the purpose of improving primary education in Estate Schools. Apart from these programmes the Department for International Development (DFID) in United Kingdom has already funded three projects in Primary Education such as,
the Primary Mathematics Project, Primary English Project and Primary Education Planning Project. NORAD is another foreign donor agency which provides financial assistance for the improvement of primary education of Sri Lanka. Pre-school education is still not a MEHE function. Pre-schools are set up and managed by individuals or organisations, as private concerns. Some of the teachers hold certificates awarded by university departments of education. Some of the pre-schools are supported by local government agencies. Sarvodya Movement a NGO has taken a keen interest in establishing pre-schools in every village where their programmes are implemented. MEHE has no direct control over this sector.
1.7 Investment on EFA since 1990
Sri Lanka, when compared with international standards spends less on education. In the near past Sri Lanka has spent 03 percent of G.D.P. and 10 percent of total public expenditure on education. According to international standards as indicated in a World Bank document the expenditure incurred on education, averages as 05 percent of G.D.P. and 20 percent of the total public expenditure. The averages range from 4 8 percent of G.D.P. and 11 18 percent of total expenditure. The expenditure on education in Sri Lanka has increased with the expansion of the school system, but it has remained between 8 10 percent of the total public expenditure. In Sri Lanka it is difficult to estimate precisely the expenditure on primary and secondary levels, because of the manner the school system is organised. In many schools the primary section does not function separately. It is roughly estimated that 30 percent of total recurrent public expenditure is spent on primary education, 53 percent on secondary education and 09 percent on university education. The expenditure on primary teacher salaries has increased both in real terms and also as a percentage of total teacher salaries. Her Excellency the President as the Minister of Finance has allocated Rs. 800 million for construction
of buildings and other infrastructure required for primary schools. The international organisations such as UNICEF, SIDA, GTZ, NORAD and UNESCO have contributed many millions to bring about quantitative and qualitative improvements in the primary cycle.