In-house seminar on ‘School Dropouts in the Estate Sector of Sri Lanka’ by Himani Vithanage

25 July 2022

‘School Dropouts in the Estate Sector of Sri Lanka’ was the subject of IPS’ in-house seminar this month presented by Project Intern and winner of the 2021 Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant, Himani Vithanage. In her presentation, Himani noted that students in the estate sector have the highest school dropout rates compared to the urban and rural population in Sri Lanka, and the COVID-19 pandemic have increased dropout rates in the estate sector with the shift to online lessons during the prolonged school closures.

The main reasons for school dropouts in this sector are the students’ unwillingness to attend or poor academic progress, financial difficulties, and helping in housekeeping activities/family businesses. Close to 60% of school dropouts in the estate sector already engage in some economic activity or are seeking to engage in them.  Age, household income, household size, child labour, time spent on housekeeping activities, father’s education, and mother’s place of residence (lives at home or away) are several factors that were found to affect school dropouts in the estate sector.

The lack of adequate facilities such as devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) broadband coverage issues, financial difficulties to purchase data packages, and lack of parents’ support discouraged students from attending online classes during school closures. Many estate schools only conducted virtual classes for higher grades such as Ordinary Level (OL) students and this increased the possibility of dropouts in lower grades. However, the true effects of the pandemic are yet to be determined as Key Informant Interviews are still being conducted, Himani explained.

She concluded her presentation by discussing some policy implications which included special financial assistance to deprived regions, especially to secure devices and facilities for children to attend classes. Himani also emphasised that estate schools should be encouraged to conduct online classes for grades below OLs when it is not possible to conduct physical classes.

Download the full presentation HERE.