The year 2020 saw close to 1.6 billion students from over 180 countries being kept out of schools for extended periods of time, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite commendable efforts by many countries to put in place alternative remote learning strategies and corrective measures, learning losses have been unavoidable and substantial.
In this second year of the pandemic, many countries are moving from emergency responses towards policies aimed at recovery. Along with reopening schools and resuming education, these also include tailored support to help students adjust to learning in the new normal, and remedial measures to make up for lost learning.
Sri Lankan schools have been largely dysfunctional for over 15 months since initial closures in March 2020, despite some brief periods of operation. This blog examines policy responses adopted in Sri Lanka’s education sector over the past year, with a view of informing its future education recovery strategy in 2021 and beyond.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of people across the world but not everyone has been affected in the same way. In most contexts, women and girls are disproportionately impacted, and girls and women pay a higher social and economic toll. This is mainly because of their relatively disadvantaged situation, and distinct social obligations and responsibilities. The pandemic has already derailed progress made towards achieving gender equality (SDG5). The labour market, health, education, nutrition and food security, and safety are some of those areas facing setbacks due to the pandemic. The negative impacts can be expected to widen (i.e., more individuals are affected) and deepen (i.e. the conditions of some individuals worsen) the already unfavourable situation.
With the closure of schools following the COVID-19 outbreak and the sudden shift to online learning, poor children with no access to e-learning opportunities risk falling even further behind. In this context, some proposals made in Budget 2021 to improve the education system and reduce poverty will benefit poor children who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This blog highlights some of the education-related difficulties faced by poor children in Sri Lanka based on HIES data and the recent budget proposals which could help them to overcome these difficulties.
The Sri Lankan economy is likely to face a contraction in 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic but there is potential for this to be followed by a sharp V-shaped economic recovery. The means of navigating such a recovery path were discussed at a webinar panel discussion held last Thursday (15th October) to mark the release of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka’s (IPS) flagship report ‘Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2020’.
In what has been recognised as the world’s largest educational crisis, the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in a record number of students being forced to stay away from schools and universities. This blog examines the effectiveness of distance education in Sri Lanka, from the perspectives of inclusion and quality, and explores policy measures that can deliver and sustain more equitable and effective learning outcomes, beyond COVID-19.