Sri Lanka - World Bank Launches New Publication: Treasures of the Education System in Sri Lanka
: Colombo, June 30, 2005
The cardinal challenge facing Sri Lankan education policy makers is to develop and sustain a high quality education system, says a new World Bank report Treasures of the Education System in Sri Lanka: Restoring Performance, Expanding Opportunities and Enhancing Prospects. The Bank will officially present the findings and policy implications of this analysis of the Sri Lankan education system today at the Ceylon Continental Hotel.
The Sri Lankan education system has been commended in development policy circles and in economic literature for its success in providing widespread access to primary and secondary education. Although the country attained a high level of human development for a low-income economy, Sri Lanka has lost the initial advantage it had in Asia. “The people of Sri Lanka have always placed education very high on their list of priorities,” said Peter Harrold, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka. “Development initiatives and strategies to widen education access to the poorest and most disadvantaged economic groups requires strengthening to improve the efficiency and quality of service delivery so Sri Lanka can gain lost ground,” he added.
The publication is the most comprehensive and scientific analysis of the education system in Sri Lanka ever undertaken by the World Bank. The report provides extensive statistical data and examines “Policies, Enrolment and Organization of the Education System” and presents in the second chapter a strong case on the “Economic and Social Benefits of Investing in Education.” The chapter on “Resources and Service Delivery in Education” that follows analyses education investment in Sri Lanka, with a special focus on public investment, internal efficiency, and the quality of service delivery. “Status, Challenges and Policy Responses to Education” examines several important dimensions of education quality and presents four case studies undertaken especially for this report. The last chapter, titled “Training and Links to the Labor Market,” seeks to fill an important information gap by undertaking an analysis of technical education and vocational training. This analysis complements the preceding study of the general education system. The discussion is enriched by comparative information on the various aspects of the education systems of a number of countries around the world, including Argentina, Australia, Chile, Columbia, Egypt, India, Lesotho, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
“Sri Lanka needs to look beyond universal access to primary education, which it achieved many years ago, to second and third generation reforms to develop a high quality education system for economic prosperity and social well being,” said Harsha Aturupane, Senior Economist, World Bank, who headed the study team and is the main author for the report. “We need to shift the focus of the capital budget from classrooms, administration buildings, and staff rooms, which have been the past focus, to science laboratories, computer centers, libraries, and activity rooms in future. Similarly, in the recurrent expenditure budget, free up resources from the salaries bill for teaching learning material,” he added.
As the first component of the new wave of aid for education that will flow from this report, the World Bank is leading the efforts of donors to help the Ministry of Education and the Provincial Councils prepare a five-year rolling plan to develop the basic and secondary education systems in the country. The report lays the foundation for the World Bank’s future support to the Education Sector in Sri Lanka, commencing with a US$60 million World Bank Education Sector Development Grant planned for 2006 – 2010.
In Sri Lanka, the World Bank has been the leading donor to the education sector, providing foreign assistance worth more than US$200 million over the last 10 years.
For more information on World Bank activities in Sri Lanka, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/lk