1.6 million primary school children across the country are facing challenges due to covid and the economic crisis, with 85% of children in Grade 3 not achieving the minimum literacy and numeracy levels.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) and UNICEF spearhead a national initiative to help 1.6 million primary school children impacted by prolonged school closures and sporadic disruptions to their education over the past three years, to catch up on their learning.
According to an MOE-led national assessment, 85% of Grade 3 children are not achieving minimum proficiency in literacy and numeracy, which is essential in their transition to secondary school and beyond, both in life and work.
The event was held under the leadership of the Hon. Minister of Education, Dr. Susil Premajayantha, MP along with the UNICEF Representative for Sri Lanka, Christian Skoog, and was attended by government and development partners.
Currently, Sri Lanka allocates less than 2% of its GDP on education, which falls well below the international benchmark of 4-6% of GDP and is among the lowest in the South Asia region.
“There is an urgent need to increase the national budget allocation for education, especially for primary grades, where we need to boost foundational learning for children, while also ensuring the implementation of vital Education Reforms so that we can build the solid human resource skills needed to support the country’s development,” said Dr. Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Education.
The learning crisis has affected vulnerable children the most, including younger children in primary grades and those in plantation estates in the country.
“The basics of literacy, numeracy, and social economic skills are the platform on which children build their own, their families, their communities, and their country’s future,” said Christian Skoog, UNICEF Representative for Sri Lanka. “We commend the MOE for its commitment to undertake urgent efforts to reverse the widening disparities in learning achievement for children who are lagging further behind, including slow learners, and missing out due to the continued hardship the country faces,” he said.
In July, the MOE and UNICEF held a special briefing on ‘Learning Recovery’ to leverage the support of development partners, while more technical-level workshops were held across nine provinces, to identify gaps and prioritize actions.