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Part 2 - EFA Goals: Status and Trends

The progress Sri Lanka has achieved in the education for all goals is reviewed in this part. Progress is assessed in terms of 18 indicators which the EFA Technical Committee developed to capture essential features of four of the dimensions of the goals: namely Early Childhood Care and Development, Primary Education, Learning Achievement and Outcomes, and Adult Literacy. No indicators are yet available for the other two dimensions : Training in Essential Skills and Education for Better Living. The situation with respect to these two dimensions is described qualitatively.

2.1: Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD)

Target: Expansion of early childhood care and development activities, including family and community interventions, especially for poor, disadvantaged and disabled children.

2.1.1 Background

Organised activities for early childhood development are yet evolving in the country. The most well known are the pre-schools which are primarily expected to prepare three to five year old children for schooling. There are day care centres, which look after young children, from infants to toddlers, mainly to help working mothers. A parallel to these day care centres, well spread through the plantations are the creches. All these institutions are run mainly by non governmental organisations (NGOs), and the private sector. Of the various types of institutions only pre-schools can be considered as providing organised early child care and stimulation for growth and development. Not all pre-schools are designed or equipped to promote the growth and development of young children. They seek primarily to teach the children what they should know to be competitive in Grade 1

– to write letters, count and even workout sums. This unfortunately is what the parents and even the primary schools too expect.

About a third of pre-schools do not have basic materials. Most pre-school teachers about 60 percent according to a study in 1994, (Wickremarathne, 1994) have educational levels below the GCE O/L. The training that most teachers have received is limited to short duration of a few weeks.

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the Children’s Secretariat have recognised the need to change this situation by attempting to convert pre-schools as places where necessary stimulation for social and cognitive development in early childhood could be provided. Guidelines for pre-schools have been prepared. A good monitoring and facilitating mechanism is a long recognised need. It is needed to encourage the pre-schools to adopt these guidelines, and to help improve the quality of pre-school teachers and facilities of pre-schools.

      1. Policy on ECCD

State responsibility for pre-schools began to receive attention with the formation of the Children’s Secretariat in the early 1980’s. A report on Early Childhood Care and Education was presented to Parliament in 1986 as a Sessional Paper. Concurrently, with these developments, a new trend in ECCD was seen – i.e. emphasis on the child’s total well being and development both emotionally and intellectually. The Children’s Secretariat of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is mandated to promote ECCD. Pre-school education and ECCD have been included as a subject under the Education Reforms of 1997. Under the reforms Provincial Councils and Local Government Authorities will be encouraged to maintain ECCD centres. The government will also provide facilities for the training of pre – school

teachers and the development of curricula and model teaching – learning materials for these centres ( NEC 1997). In 1997 when the National Plan of Action for Children was formulated, ECCD was included as an important component.

      1. Institutions involved
      2. The institutions involved are Children’s Secretariat of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL), certain Local Authorities and NGOs such as Sarvodaya. The government although its involvement is recent, is playing a significant role. The Children’s Secretariat has developed a set of guidelines for pre-schools and trained NGOs personnel in the districts to adopt these guidelines. In addition it has developed Communication and Education materials on home – based ECCD activities. The OUSL offers a diploma course in pre- school education and this diploma is considered as a recognised qualification for pre – school teaching. According to the present devolved administrative structure, ECCD is a devolved subject. As such, steps have been taken at provincial level to strengthen Provincial Councils for ECCD activities and accordingly a cell for ECCD activities has been established within the Provincial Education Ministries.

      3. Activities accomplished and future plans

The Resource Group (local experts in ECCD) of the National Committee on ECCD are formulating the minimum requirements for the registration of pre-schools island-wide. A national basic curriculum for pre-schools is being formulated. The Pre-school are to be re-named as Early Childhood Care and Development Centres. The manual for trainers of pre-school teachers for guidance on use of the national basic curriculum is in progress. The Children’s Secretariat has initiated a programme to train national trainers, teachers and care givers on ECCD. The Children’s Secretariat with the involvement of relevant ministries and other

organisations has conducted a series of parent awareness programmes through the TV and the radio.

Arrangements are already being made to establish a Department of Child Development with a Child Study Centre at the Open University of Sri Lanka.

2.1.5 Indicators pertaining to the dimension ECCD

Indicator 1: Gross enrolment in early childhood care and development programme - NER

Indicator 2: Percentage of new entrants to grade 1 of primary school who have attended some form of organised ECCD programme.

The age group applicable for early child development programmes, particularly pre-schools in Sri Lanka is three to five years. Since official school entry age is five years, a child has to be five years as at the 31st of January of the year of primary school admission. Therefore, those children who complete age five after 31st January continue to attend pre-school till the beginning of the following year. Hence, the indicator is computed as a proportion of the 3-5 age group. Based on the various information gathered it is correct to assume that the participation in pre-school education has increased in this decade. In 1994 the gross enrolment was 43 percent and increased to 63 percent in 1999. (Tabl;e 1 and 2) here is no gender disparity relating to pre-school participation. The maximum participation relates to the 4 and 5 year age groups. The districts where participation is highest are Colombo and Hambantota, while the lowest participation is in the Nuwera Eliya district. Although no time series data are available, it is a common observation that sending children to pre-schools have gained popularity. In 1994, 43 percent of children in the age of three to five years were enrolled in pre-schools.(Table 1 and 2) By 1999, the net pre-school enrolment has risen to 63 percent (NER) in a survey of six provinces.

Table 2 - Percentage of 3 - 5 Year all Children Enrolled in Pre- schools by province, 1994 and 1999 (Excluding North & East Provinces)

Province

1994

1999

Western

52

64

Central

39

59

Southern

47

64

Northern

Eastern

North Western

41

68

North Central

47

65

Uva

38

68

Sabaragamuwa

38

55

Sri Lanka

43

63

Note. Eight districts in the conflict areas of the North and East not included for 1994 and ten districts in 1999.

Source 1- Computed from data in Department of Census and Statistics (1998) Demographic Survey 1994 Sri Lanka. Report on Demographic and Housing Characteristics. Release 4.

2 - Survey on EFA, 1999,(unpublished).Non-formal Education Unit, MEHE,

It is important that a child at the time of commencing primary education has an adequate competency level in social and psychomotor skills. Participation in an organised early child care and development programme helps children acquire such competency. Proportion of children entering Grade I after having participated in an ECCD programme is an indicator of the preparedness of children for schooling.

According to some surveys carried out by NGOs it is found that in 1999 out of the total number of children who entered primary school at Grade I, nearly 90 percent has attended a pre-school. This level is also compatible with an independent estimate from school census taken in 1999. The rapid increase through out the decade in attendance of young children in pre-schools, among boys and girls seems alike. A strong recognition among parents of the need for formal early childcare is clearly visible. It is imperative that pre-schools, the predominant institutions, offer ECCD services to the highest possible standards. Though the percentages enrolled in pre schools in 1994 were below 50 in all the six provinces excluding Western, in 1999 all the percentages are above 60 except in Sabaragamuwa province.

Map No.1 Enrolment in early childcare organisation 1999 indicates the percentages of children enrolled in different childcare centres and those who stay at home. No

data in this regard are available for Northern and Eastern Provinces. Map 2 shows the percentages of children who have entered the primary school after receiving a pre school education.

Map 1 (not available)

Primary Education

Target : Universal access to, and completion of primary / basic education by the year 2000.

Background

As indicated in Part I the universal access to education in Sri Lanka means the provision of opportunities for free education in the 11 years of the grades 1 to 11 free access span. The newly introduced regulations for compulsory education also indicate an intention of providing at least 9 years of schooling. This intention is also reflected in the proposal under the education reforms (1997) to have a two tier school structure with a 9 year elementary school and a 4 year senior school. Hence the indicators pertaining to primary education has to be interpreted considering the 5 years of primary education that form the lower position of a larger free access span.

2.2.2. Access and participation

It is the right of every child to have access to and opportunity to participate in basic education. In Sri Lanka, through the decade of 1990s, over 90 percent of children reaching school entry age annually have sought and gained admission to schools. By 1998, of children aged five, 94 percent (Net Intake Rate) has gained admission to a school. Some children, not exceeding 5 to 6 percent, however have not had this opportunity. The gross intake rate which is the ratio of children of all ages to those aged 5 years is not significantly higher than the net intake rate. Each year, then about 20,000 children who reach school going age do not get the opportunity to enter to the school.

Some of these children have no parents living with them, or if they do have they just cannot afford to send the children to school. There have been reports that absence of a birth certificate has been a reason for a child not being admitted to a school. Due to the ongoing armed conflict some children have been displaced and have lost their birth certificates. Some children born out of wedlock, or under other stressful situations, have not had their births registered. The rule regarding birth certificates has been relaxed now. Children out of school are likely to be employed in petty trade or domestic labour. Elimination of child domestic labour is one of the aims of the compulsory education bill. Some mechanism has to be set in place to enforce the legislation. The NGOs, the private sector, and the community organisations need to play an articulated role in identifying the primary school age children who fall out of school, to afford them their right to quality basic education.

Because of the gradual decline in the number of births annually, the number of children entering school has been declining gradually from 390,000 in 1990 to 356,000 by 1998. This decline, which according to population projections will continue, offers a window of opportunity. Resources need no longer be allocated to merely keep pace with quantitative expansion of infrastructure facilities. Rather they can be invested in enhancing the quality of education facilities.

2.2.3 Indicator 3: Apparent (Gross) intake rate

The apparent (gross) intake rate for 1998 is 98.5. The gross intake rates have remained in a range above 90 percent during the decade indicating high enrolment at grade 1. These data are given in table 3

The number of children of five years of age is assumed to be the same as the number of births registered five years ago. It is assumed that the under-registration and mortality balance each other roughly. No recent and accurate data exist on the

degree of under registration and survival ratios to warrant a more refined estimation procedure.

Table 3 : Gross intake rate 1990 to 1998

Year

New admissions to grade 1

Estimated population aged 5 years.

Gross intake rate percent

1990

387,314

389,599

99.4

1991

388,315

361,735

107.2

1992

359,228

357,723

100

1993

354,671

344,179

103

1994

339,879

363,343

93.5

1995

346,333

341,223

101.5

1996

322,858

356,593

90.5

1997

347,787

356,842

97.5

1998

345,436

350,707

98.5

Source: MEHE-EMIS

Figure 1 : New admissions to Grade 1 and gross intake rate

The information given in the Table 3 is depicted in the Figure 1 Columns in the above figure show that the gross intake rate and the New Admissions to the Grade 1 fluctuate year by year during the decade.

Indicator 4: Net Intake Rate

During the 1990s both intake into grade 1 and participation in primary school have improved. The net intake rate has reached 94 percent in 1998.

Table 4 : Net Intake rate

Year

Number of new admissions of age 5 years’

Children of age 5 years2

Net intake

1997

331,506

356,842

84

1998

330,189

350,707

94

Source: 1. MEHE - EMIS

2. Estimated from registered live births published by the Registrar General’s Department.

2.2.5 Indicators 5 and 6

Indicator 5 : Gross enrolment ratios (GER )

Indicator 6 : Net Enrolment Ratios (NER)

Computation of NER is constrained by the absence of age data in the school censuses except in a few selected years. The following table gives available data.

Table 5 : Gross and net enrolment ratio in primary cycle

Year

 

Primary enrolment

Number of children of age

5-9 years

GER

NER

All ages

Age 5 to 9 years

1991

2,081,104

1,652,727

1,863,700

112

89

1997

1,807,751

1,615,602

1,700,000

106

95

1998

1,798,162

1,499,678

1,674,842

107

90

Source : MEHE - EMIS.

The figure 2 represents the data given in the Table 5. The data in the Table 5 and the figure 2 indicate that the GER has a gradual decrease from the year 1991 to 1998 and a gradual increase in the NER for the same period.

Figure 2 Gross Enrolment Ratio and Net Enrolment Ratio 1991 and 1998)

2.2.6 Public Expenditure on Primary Education

Indicator 7: Public current expenditure on primary education (a) as a percentage of GNP and (b) per pupil as a percentage of GNP per capita.

Indicator 8: Public current expenditure on primary education as a percentage of total expenditure on education.

Public expenditure on education was as high as 5 percent of the GNP, during the period when enrolment expansion was high as was the case in the fifties and the

sixties. The share of education expenditure as a proportion of the GNP declined in the seventies and eighties and decreased below 3 percent. The share of education as a proportion of GNP increased to about 3.3 percent in 1991 and has remained at this rate during the decade.

Since data on public expenditure on education by levels are not available, indicators 7 and 8 are computed by way of estimates based on certain assumptions. The main reason for the lack of separate data by level is because schools are not strictly segregated by level. About 65 percent of the primary level pupils are enrolled in schools which have post – primary grades also. Therefore the expenditure on primary level education was computed using the cost of teachers salaries and assuming that this salary cost is 90 percent of the total expenditure.

Table 6 : Total Expenditure on Salary of Primary Teachers

Year

No. of Primary Teachers

Total salary bill for Primary

Education (Millions)

1991

66,980

1748

1992

68,794

1796

1993

69,010

1801

1994

69,236

1807

1995

64,756

3497

1996

63,555

3432

1997

60,832

3285

Source : MEHE – EMIS

The increase of the Salary Bill for primary education for 1995 is due to the new salary structure implemented from the year 1995. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka

in its Annual Reports publishes the GNP and the total expenditure on Education each year. Based on these data, indicators 7 and 8 are computed and given in the following Table. These indicators are not computed at provincial level as relevant data are not available.

Table 7 : Public Expenditure on Primary Education 1991 - 1998

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Public expenditure on primary education (Rs. Million)

 

1,942

 

1,995

 

2,001

 

2,008

 

3,885

 

3,813

 

3,650

 

3,520

Total public expenditure on education (Rs. Million)

 

10,714

 

10,131

 

11,694

 

11,031

 

15,039

 

16,192

 

17,983

 

21,241

Total enrolment in primary education (‘000)

 

2,081

 

2,027

 

1,980

 

1,930

 

1,864

 

1,810

 

1,808

 

1,798

GNP (Rs. Million)

369,262

413,935

493,729

571,131

655,364

684,741

793,764

Total population (‘000)

17,401

17,543

17,685

17,827

17,969

18,112

18,263

18,414

Public expenditure on primary education as % of total public expenditure on education

 

18.13

 

19.69

 

17.11

 

18.20

 

25.83

 

23.55

 

20.30

 

16.57

Public expenditure on primary education as % of GNP

 

0.53

 

0.48

 

0.41

 

0.35

 

0.59

 

0.56

 

0.46.

Public expenditure on primary education per pupil as % of GNP per capita

 

4.40

 

4.17

 

3.62

 

3.25

 

5.71

 

5.57

 

4.64

Data Source : School Census – Ministry of Education & Higher Education

Central Bank Reports – Central Bank of Sri Lanka

Population Statistics – Department of Census and Statistics

It is evident from the above table that public expenditure on education has increased gradually from 1995. But public expenditure on primary education as a percentage of GNP has shown a downward trend.

2.2.7 Indicator 09 : Percentage of primary school teachers having the required academic qualifications (Government Schools)

During the past three decades primary teachers were recruited on the basis of General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) (GCE (O/L)) and GCE (Advanced Level) qualifications. With the increasing output of GCE (A/L) qualified persons and with the increasing demand for employment as teachers, the Ministry of Education decided to consider four passes at the GCE (A/L) as the minimum qualification required for selection to the Colleges of Education for training before appointing as teachers. This proposal was introduced following the "Education Reforms in 1981". Since then, teachers were recruited from time to time based on the above criterion. Nevertheless in the period from 1989 to 1994, 50,000 teachers were recruited under a special scheme where this requirement was relaxed. This ‘teacher trainee’ Recruitment Scheme, aimed at solving the shortage of teachers caused by a decision in 1990 to allow premature retirement for

teachers. Further due to the lack of G.C.E. (A/L) qualified persons specially in the plantation area, and in respect of certain subjects such as Music, Dancing, Physical Training the expected minimum academic qualification was considered as GCE (O/L). After 1990 graduates were also appointed as teachers for primary schools.

About 1000 O/L qualified persons were recruited for the plantation area schools in 1990, under a special scheme called Plantation School Teacher Programme. To upgrade the quality of these teachers, a year’s training was offered prior to their appointment. The minimum qualification requirement of GCE (Advanced Level) was reintroduced after 1997.

With the establishment of the Teachers’ Service in October 1994 the teachers were placed at a point in the Teacher’s Service, which consist of 5 steps according to qualifications and experience. Newly recruited primary teachers are placed on the last step of the Teachers Service Grade II of Class 3 salary.

The school censuses conducted in the past do not include particulars of G.C.E. (A/L) and G.C.E. (O/L) qualified teachers. However, the majority of teachers recruited with G.C.E. (O/L) qualification in 1960s have now reached their retirement age. When compared with the total primary school teacher population of about 55,000, the number of teachers with O/L qualification is very negligible. Therefore it could be concluded that more than 90 percent of the teachers possess the required academic qualification of G.C.E. (A/L).

2.2.8 Indicator 10: Percentage of Primary School Teachers who are certified according to national standards (Government schools)

The criteria for the recruitment of teachers were changed several times, during the past 3-4 decades. The rationalisation of teacher training is considered under the new education reforms. In the past the teachers were trained after being appointed as teachers. The courses for non graduate teachers were basically divided into two types namely general and special trained which included training of teachers to

teach in special subject areas. Primary education was not considered as a special subject discipline. With the establishment of Colleges of Education in 1985 those who scored high marks at the competitive G.C.E. (A/L) examination, but could not enter the university were selected for admission and were trained prior to their appointment. In 1990 about 50,000 teachers called "teacher trainees" were selected under a special scheme with a view to meeting the shortage of teachers resulting from a policy to permit early retirement of serving teachers. In order to upgrade the quality of these teachers they were trained by a short term scheme through the distance mode. After 1990 quite a large number of primary teachers followed the B.Ed course conducted by the National Institute of Education (NIE), Open University and the University of Colombo. Presently the NIE is in the process of training all the remaining untrained non graduate teachers through distance mode and it is expected to train all untrained non graduate teachers by 2001. Though not officially confirmed the practice now is to consider, the completion of a primary education course at Teacher Colleges, National Colleges of Education, B. Ed degree or the distance mode training course conducted by the NIE as the professional qualification to teach in the primary school. This indicator was computed based on these criteria. A comparison of this indicator cannot be made with previous years as such data on primary trained teachers have not been collected during the past.

Table 8 : Percentage of Teachers qualified to teach in primary schools, 1997

Province

Male

Female

Total

Western

34.7

47.2

46.2

Central

41.0

59.9

57.2

Southern

50.5

55.5

55.0

Northern

41.5

45.2

44.4

Eastern

51.7

57.7

55.7

North Western

56.0

59.8

59.3

North Central

49.5

63.3

59.6

Uva

50.3

58.9

57.3

Sabaragamuwa

51.2

66.5

47.7

Sri Lanka

46.6

56.5

55.2

Source : MEHE-EMIS

Figure 3 : Percentage of Qualified Teachers in Primary Cycle

Table 8 and Figure 3 show that more than 50 percent of teachers are trained in primary education for many of the provinces. As given in the above table and graphs the percentage for the whole island is 55.2. These data imply that out of the total population of primary teachers about 45 percent are not adequately qualified to teach in primary grades .

Teacher Training Programmes are under going changes at present in order to provide training facilities to the rest of the teachers who are not trained in the next 2-3 year. Map 3 presents the data given in Table 8 in a visual form.

Map 3 (not available)


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