Policy Dialogue on ‘Equity & Well-Being: Measurement & Policy Practice – Sri Lankan Perspective’

The IPS together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) organized a Policy Dialogue on ‘Equity & Well-Being: Measurement & Policy Practice – Sri Lankan Perspective’ at the IPS Auditorium on 13th March 2012.

The welcome address was delivered by Dr. Saman Kelegama, Executive Director, IPS while introductory remarks were made by Rita O’ Sullivan, Resident Representative, (Sri Lanka), ADB. Chief Guest at the occasion was Hon. Geethanjana Gunawardana, Deputy Minister of Finance & Planning, Ministry of Finance & Planning.

It is now well accepted that growth alone is not sufficient for sustained poverty reduction. However, research studies that measure inclusiveness of growth are limited. This is partly due to the complexities involved in dealing with the concept of equity. The author of the book, Dr. Hyun H. Son highlighted that the book “Equity and Well-Being: Measurement and Policy Practice” attempts to address this issue by providing a definition and methodology to measure equitable growth. The book also provides empirical illustrations and three country case studies that assess the equitability in health and education services.

Nisha Arunatilake presented the results of the case study on Sri Lanka. This study finds that the access to education is fairly high in the country but not equitable. Encouragingly, equity has improved over time, particularly for the senior and junior secondary levels of education. The study further finds that the opportunity for school completion, which is a proxy for quality of education, is also inequitable for all school cycles considered. Further, equity in access decreases for higher school cycles. These results indicate the need to improve access to higher levels of school cycles and policies to ensure that children complete them. More attention is also need to improve the equity in education outcomes, especially at the higher school cycles.

On the health front, the study further finds that there is considerable room for improvement in the nutritional level of children and mothers. Results, measured by a variety of indicators, indicate that nearly one-fifth of children and mothers do not have adequate levels of nutrition. Although these indicators have in general improved, the improvements are only marginal. Encouragingly the results find that the equity in opportunity for adequate nutrition has also improved overtime.

The Sri Lankan chapter was reviewed by Prof. W. D. Lakshman, Chairman, IPS. Equity Issues on Health were discussed by Dr. Susie Perera, Director, Policy Analysis and Development, Ministry of Health, while Ms. Badra Withanage, Director, Ministry of Education made a presentation on Equity Issues on Education. Many distinguished guests were present at this occasion.

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