COVID19

Rising School Dropouts: The Plight of Estate Children in Sri Lanka

Although Sri Lanka has performed well in basic education indicators such as a high literacy rate and near-universal participation in primary and secondary schooling, there are striking disparities across regions in the country. Specifically, the education performance of the estate sector consisting of plantation communities is dismal, with a high level of school dropouts. Notably, the prevalence of child labour in a community is revealed to significantly impact estate children dropping out of school. The worsened financial difficulties suffered by these estate children post-pandemic, along with the ongoing economic crisis in the country, have led them to engage in economic activities to earn income so that they can afford their basic needs. Based on a study carried out by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), this blog discusses the issue of school dropouts in the estate sector and how prolonged school closures following the COVID-19 outbreak and the ongoing economic crisis have increased school dropouts in estate regions.

Sri Lanka’s Deepening Economic Crisis: The Plight of the Poor

Empty supermarket shelves, endless queues to buy essentials and overnight camping around fuel stations are now regular sights in Sri Lanka. As the economy continues to plummet with no viable short-term solutions in sight, levels of frustration among the citizens continue to rise. The country’s worst economic crisis since independence has battered Sri Lankans from all walks of life but the fallouts are impacting the poor with greater intensity. If urgent measures are not taken to support the most vulnerable at this time, more Sri Lankans will slip into poverty thus increasing intergenerational poverty in the long term. This blog identifies some of the most pressing challenges faced by the poor and vulnerable amidst the prevailing crisis and outlines policy options to safeguard their well-being.

Private Tutoring Amidst Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis: Issues Faced by Students

Sri Lanka’s education sector, still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, now faces acute challenges due to the current political and economic crises. The sudden imposition of curfews and the lack of transportation have resulted in school closures and students being deprived of structured and systematic in-school education. In Sri Lanka, closing schools for just one day causes a loss of 25 million learning hours and 1.4 million teaching hours. Alongside this, private tutoring has gained greater importance. This blog discusses the issues faced mainly by Ordinary Level (O/L) and Advanced Level (A/L) students in attending tuition classes based on an IPS study. The study findings are derived from a sample of about 340 students, and 16 teachers and tutors across Sri Lanka.

Food Security in the BIMSTEC Region: Lessons from Sri Lanka’s Smart Farming

Sri Lanka is hosting the fifth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit from 28-30 March 2022. Established in 1997, BIMSTEC is a seven-member regional organisation comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.  BIMSTEC pays significant attention to agriculture and food security, with agriculture included as a stand-alone sector in 2005 in recognition of its importance. Sri Lanka, the lead country for the coordination of activities in the Science, Technology and Innovation Sector, is in the midst of a food crisis even as it plays host. Against this backdrop, this blog discusses food security challenges in the BIMSTEC region, Sri Lanka’s experiences in smart farming, and its expectations from the summit.

Black, White and Grey Markets: The Dynamics of Foreign Exchange and Remittances in Sri Lanka

Despite the pandemic and related difficulties in remitting, inward remittances to Sri Lanka had picked up by December 2020 to record year-over-year growth of 5.8 %, contrary to all expectations. The reasons for such a quick rebound include catching up on postponed remittances, accumulated terminal employment benefits and savings-related remittances of migrant workers laid off due to the pandemic, receipt of counter-cyclical remittances from less frequent remitters and the shift from informal to formal channels. In the current context of the foreign exchange crisis in Sri Lanka, the latter is the most critical factor to focus on.

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