Sri Lanka has approximately 4 million school children with 215,000 teachers and around 10,000 schools. The main obstacle is that public investments in education were modest when compared to countries with similar income status. Education expenditure accounted for 1.9 percent of GDP, which was roughly 7.3 percent of the government budget in 2014. More education investments are needed to improve schools to meet the demands of the modern global economy. In addition, education for key skills for a knowledge hub, such as English language, ICT, science and mathematics, are limited and need to expand considerably. And lastly, there are wide regional disparities in the current education system.
Transforming the School Education System as the Foundation of a Knowledge Hub Project (TSEP) has been designed to promote students’ access to, and quality of primary and secondary education to provide a foundation for the knowledge-based economic and social development of the country. It supports Sri Lanka government’s development initiative called the Program for School Improvement, which aims to strengthen school performance and improve student learning. Several innovative reforms are also being supported, including the establishment of a system for conducting national assessments of learning outcomes, school-based management, and school-based teacher development.
The TSEP, which is focused on enhancing equitable access and quality of primary and secondary education, has helped to support improvements in several key outcomes:
- The survival rate of students through grade 11 is 85 percent (88 percent for girls and 82 percent for boys), compared to 82 percent overall in 2011.
- The number of direct project beneficiaries is about 3.2 million students thus far; of which, female students account for 52 percent.
- School-based teacher development programs had been conducted in 70 percent of project areas. About 186,500 teachers (82 percent of all teachers) have benefitted.
- The Content and Language Integrated Learning Framework for Bilingual Education has been introduced to over 1,000 secondary schools in all nine provinces, exceeding the initial target of 900 schools.