Comments /493 Views / Saturday, 15 July 2017 00:02
Universal free education is at times neither universal nor free. It is funded by taxpayers who believe in the right of all people to have economic opportunities. This means that Sri Lanka has to ensure that no child is left behind and deprived of a chance at being an equitable member of society.
In Sri Lanka, more than 51,000 children in the five to 17 years age group have never attended school, while 452,661 children were not attending school at the time according to a Child Activity Survey (CAS) – 2016 Report.
Data collected, related to children aged 5-17 years, were in the areas of schooling, working conditions, child labour, health conditions and living conditions. The CAS revealed that, of the 4,571,442 children in the five to 17 years age group (4.6 % of the total population), 4,118,781 (90.1%) attended school, while the rest 452,661 (9.9%) presently, do not. Of that, 51,249 (1.12%) had never attended school.
As many as 40,394 children in the rural sector had never attended school, of which 2,329 were from the estate sector. Another 10,885 children in the urban sector too, had never attended school. The report stated that 87.07% of the children who had never attended school were in the five to 11 years age group.
Out-of-school children often face deep-rooted structural inequalities and disparities. In Sri Lanka these are most commonly to linked to income poverty, child labour, inadequacies in the supply of schools and teachers, deficiencies in the teaching-learning process, lack of facilities for children with disabilities, conflict and disasters caused by natural hazards, lack of political commitment and politicization of the system, weak coordination and implementation of programs, problems with monitoring and data collection, and inadequate budget allocations and resource distribution. UNICEF in a report published in 2013 divided the children out of school into four segments. They found in the first category pre-primary children in the estate sector could be vulnerable for being deprived of school. Even though there has been significant improvement of primary school attendance in the region with numbers matching national averages there is still pockets of children that don’t attend school. Primary school children could be out of class in urban as well as rural areas, in some instances because poorer families find it hard to get admission to schools. Sri Lanka’s complicated school administration system and its inherent corruption also limits opportunities for children who need to enter primary level. UNICEF has estimated that about 1.9% of primary age children are out of school.
Children who are already in school, are also not immune to dropping out. Dropout rates are highest for lower-secondary-school-age children, which is about 3.3%. Boys more than girls are working while as students and run the risk of exiting from school. UNICEF estimates that dropout rates can climb to as high as 5.1% for children as they reach 13 years or higher.
By understanding the bigger picture through this systematic analysis, it is hoped that policies and strategies to address the problem of out-of-school children in Sri Lanka can be refined and strengthened to ensure the more equitable targeting of excluded groups of children, both by programs within the education sector and more widely through multi-sectoral social protection measures.
22 July 2017
Even as war clouds gather over the Sino-Bhutan border where China’s real adversary is nuclear-armed India, China has announced its intention to thoroughly overhaul its military and economic structure and philosophy to meet challenges of the ...
22 July 2017
It is of no doubt, that Sri Lanka has tainted its history with the blood of the innocent. After gaining independence from the British we turned our attention towards, quite literally, “killing each other”. Some call it nationalism, som...
21 July 2017
Steve Jobs, Henry Ford and Lee Kuan Yew. What did these titans have in common? They had a clear vision of the future, and the leadership skills to manifest the future they desired. They also surrounded themselves with great people; delegated autho...
21 July 2017
By Vishvanathan Subramaniam Sri Lanka’s fuel bill has been spiralling as of late. According to a recent Central Bank press release on external sector performance, petroleum purchases for the first four months of 2017 were estimated at $ 1....
‘Hub diplomacy’ with an FTA is a win-win situation for both Sri Lanka and Singapore
A temporary salve: Implications of an oil bear market on the Sri Lankan economy
Pharmaceutical manufacturing in Sri Lanka – a window of opportunity
Sri Lanka’s new regionalism: Looking beyond South Asia