Laying the Foundation for Early Childhood Education Sri Lanka


A child's first 5 years of life is critical to their development and well being for the rest of their lives. 

Janaka Thilkaratne/World Bank

Early childhood is considered to be the period from conception to 5 years of age. Monitoring and managing the milestones for the 0-2 year olds are well-established in Sri Lanka, with the health sector playing a lead role in ensuring the holistic development of these children. Center-based Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs for children in the 3-5 age range are less developed. Sri Lanka has around 17,020 ECD centers staffed by 29,340 teachers. Around 84 percent of these centers are under non-state management.

Investing early in education is a smart investment. The benefits of Early Childhood Education (ECE) are diverse. Equal access to early education will result in equal earning opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds. In addition, children will be better prepared for formal education, improving learning outcomes while accelerating human capital accumulation.


The project will help enhance parental awaeness, provide scholarships to economic disadvantaged students, development a high quality curriculum and train teachers among other improvements. 

Janaka Thilkaratne/World Bank

Study Objectives

The objective of this report is to analyze the state of early childhood education provision and the policy framework for delivering ECE in Sri Lanka, and suggest policy options for the future. The report is intended to serve several purposes.

First, drawing upon the international literature in the field of early childhood development, it provides the rationale for investing in early childhood education in Sri Lanka.

Second, it provides an understanding of the current policy framework and delivery system for ECE in the country. This policy analysis specifically looks at the extent to which there is an enabling environment for ECE, what provisions exist for monitoring and quality assurance, and how widely the policy is being implemented.

Third, it presents a situation analysis of ECE provision in Sri Lanka, discussing the issues of access, equity, and quality in the delivery of ECE services. The discussion on equity focuses mainly on understanding disparities in access, and the analysis of quality looks at the quality of inputs, processes and outcomes, including cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes.

Fourth, the report presents policy and program options based on the findings of the above analyses.