Sri Lanka: Promoting Equitable Access to Education

March 16, 2016

Image

Every morning, students at Sujatha Balika Vidyalaya School attend assembly before heading off to class. The graduation rate of students through grade 11 is now 85 percent compared to 82 percent overall in 2011

Joe Qian/World Bank

Sri Lanka has promoted equitable access to roughly 3.2 million students, with 52% of them female students, and improved the quality of education by promoting school-based teacher development and the regular measurement of learning outcomes and through strengthening governance and delivery of education services.

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.


" The school gave me opportunities, and I gained leadership skills and confidence. My favorite subject is science, and I want to be a doctor "
Sri Lankan student Imandi Wijayaratne

Imandi Wijayaratne

Student

Image

The knowledge hub provides access to, and improves the quality of primary and secondary education. Here, first grade students attend a computer class

Joe Qian/World Bank

Challenge

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.

 Solution

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.

Results

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.

Image

The number of direct project beneficiaries is about 3.2 million students thus far; of which, female students account for 52 percent

Joe Qian/World Bank

Bank Group Contribution

IDA has provided financing for the education sector in Sri Lanka over a long period of time to improve the quality of human capital through effective education and skills development. This $100 million project is the fifth education project in Sri Lanka.

Partners

The World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, Germany’s GIZ, the Asian Development Bank, the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Korean International Cooperation Agency are active key development partners in the primary and secondary education sector in Sri Lanka. There is a strong partnership among partners and we are working in support of the Government’s overall Education Sector Development Framework and Program (ESDFP) for 2013-2017. As a coordinating agency, the World Bank ensures that the activities done by development partners are harmonized with the government program. Australian Government supports the ESDFP through a trust fund agreement with the World Bank.

Moving Forward

The project has been aligned with the government’s Education Sector development Framework and Program and will continue to help the government strengthen the country’s school education system at all levels. The project has promoted school completion up to age 16 for both boys and girls. The operational work is underpinned and supported by analytical work. Linking financial support to the achievement of results, this project was the first Results-Based Financing Operation in Sri Lanka.

Image
3.2 million
students have benefited from the project