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EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

EDUCATION FOR ALL: THE YEAR 2000 ASSESSMENT

COUNTRY REPORT

BY

SRI LANKA

[This is an excerpt of country report containing relevant sections on literacy and non-formal education.] Downloaded from Asia-Pacific (http://www.accu.or.jp/litdbase). Literacy Data Base

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

Acknowledgement
The completion of this report is a result of the assistance extended and support given by various persons and organisations to the National Committee on EFA Year 2000 Assessment. On behalf of the National Committee I wish to thank all of them. The following persons are specially mentioned herein with a deep sense of gratitude for the co-operation extended. Honourable Minister Dr. Richard Pthirana Honourable Deputy Minister Prof. Viswa Warnapala Secretary to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Mr. A. Andrew de Silva My sincere thanks are extended to the following Statistical Unit of the MEHE National Institute of Education Department of Examinations UNESCO Offices in Sri Lanka, New Delhi and Bangkok UNICEF Office in Colombo The services rendered by the following are praiseworthy Mr. Sterling Perera, Education Consultant, Mr. A.A. Navaratne, ADG, NIE and Mrs. Soma de Silva of the UNICEF who assisted in writing the report Mr. P.W. Gunasekara, DE, Mr. P. Nalaka Ilapperuma, DDE and Mr. L.D. Upali, System Analyst and Mrs.Manori Hemachandra, Data Entry Operator all of MEHE who assisted in analysing data Miss. Dhammika Kariyawasam who helped in type setting the report. This project was made a reality due to the services extended by all of them. I wish to acknowledge their co-operation in this regard. Prof. Lal Perera National Co-ordinator 30.09.1999 Ministry of Education & Higher Education Isurupaya, Battaramulla Sri Lanka

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

Executive Summary
..
According to the Population Census in 1981 (the last census) the male and female literacy rates in Sri Lanka were 91 percent and 83 percent respectively. With all the attempts made during the past to achieve universalization of primary education there is still a considerable number of people who have not participated in the education process or a considerable number of early dropouts from school. Making this group of people literate has posed a major challenge to the government. Organizing literacy classes and other programmes for skill development are done with the assistance of several organizations. The Non-formal education Department of the Ministry of Education & Higher Education, the Ministry of Samurdhi, Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Social Services have mainly contributed towards the provision of non-formal type of education for adults. In addition the Non Governmental Organizations (e.g. Sarvodaya) and private organizations (e.g. Mahila Samithi) have contributed immensely towards achieving this objective. Training in Essential Skills is another area that the Government obtains the assistance of different ministries and organizations. The following activities have been performed by different organizations offering their assistance to the government to train people for skill development: * Vocational and Technical Education Commission (VTEC) had organised a vocational guidance week from 13 - 19 in September 1999, to make the adult students aware of the job opportunities available and the qualifications needed for such jobs. Seminars, Workshops, Mass Media programmes were conducted to achieve this objective. The Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka has compiled a directory giving details of 205 jobs grouped into 18 categories in which adult school leavers could obtain a training. National Youth Services Council offers a variety of short and long term enabling adult students to obtain a training in essential skills. courses

* *

Social Services Department and many non-governmental organizations organize short-term courses as non-formal education interventions for development of essential skills in adults.

Imparting of knowledge for better living is the primary purpose of education. All aspects of formal education are geared to achieve this goal. But there is a special contribution expected from the non-formal and informal agencies of education in this respect. Specially informal education agencies such as Television, Radio, and Newspapers render a great service in providing knowledge and experience for better living. The T.V. and Radio programmes and the feature articles and news published on various themes provide new knowledge for the people and are influential in the affective development of people which would help improve their personalities. This would undoubtedly result in cognitive and psychological change in people, which would in turn provide the conditions for better living.

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

Part 1 Introduction, (EFA Goals, Targets and Strategies) . 1.1 . (f) Non-formal education
Since 1970s, the Non-formal education Unit has been functioning within MEHE. Throughout the island Adult Education Centres and Technical Education Units are established and monitored by this Unit at MEHE. A special cadre of Adult Education Officers are entrusted with the task of taking leadership in organising and managing activities and relevant courses in these centres mainly to meet the needs of adults and young school leavers. Developing income-generating skills is emphasised in some of the courses, while developing functional literacy is the major objective in certain other courses. In addition to the courses organised by the state, several nongovernmental organisations too provide various Non-formal education Programmes including adult education.

Sri Lanka : Background Information

1.2 E.F.A. Goals, Targets and Strategies ..


According to the Central Bank data sources, in 1981 the literacy rate in Sri Lanka was estimated as 88.6 percent. The male literacy rate was 91 percent and the female literacy rate was 83 percent. By 1994 this had increased up to 90 percent. A noteworthy improvement, nevertheless, is the improvement of the gender parity from 63 percent to 96 percent during the 50 years of independence. As regards the outcomes of this pervasive commitment to improve education one may note several relevant indicators: an Education Index of 0.83 and a Human Development Index of 0.704, (UN Human Development Report, 1998), a Life Expectancy of 72.2 years, an Infant Mortality rate of 17, a Birth Rate of 1.8 and a Total Fertility Rate of 2.2. During 1990s, however, a significant decline in the school age population occurred, mainly as a result of continuous decline in the birth rates. This led to a shift in the emphasis from quantitative expansion (except at the upper, secondary and tertiary levels) to quality improvement in the education sector.

1.3 Expansion of basic education and training in other essential skills required by youths and adults
The educational needs of the adults and children who had dropped out from school were not paid much attention until a Non-formal education Unit was formed in the MEHE. In 1970s a special department for non-formal education (NFED) was established and a heightened interest in adult education was witnessed. This non-formal education unit launched several programmes for providing education in different areas. Non-formal education has now become a part of the accepted government policy on education. In 1992, NFED conducted four programmes for children, youths and adults. They are skill development programmes for school leavers, literacy programmes for nonschool goers and primary school drop-outs, adult education / community education programmes and English language classes for adults. These programmes are continuing. Non-formal education programmes supported by donor agencies such as UNICEF, and SIDA are also 4

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

in progress. Existing infrastructure facilities of schools are being utilised for these programmes. A proposal to introduce an Open School to organise courses for those who have left the formal education system is under consideration. The framework and the curriculum are being planned by the NIE and ready for implementation. Also a Special Department of Non-formal education is set up at the NIE for research and development work in this field. In the non-government sector many Social Service and Voluntary organisations conduct various types of Non-formal education Programmes. Their main concern is about income generating activities such as handicrafts and farming.

.. 1.6 Co-operation in EFA


..Several external agencies have supported the education system and EFA strategies in the country. UNICEF continues to provide long term assistance in promoting early childhood care and development of literacy centres, and quality improvement of primary education. ..

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

..

Part 2 - EFA Goals: Status and Trends


.. 2.4. Adult Literacy Target : Reduction of the Adult Literacy Rate (the appropriate age - to be determined in each country) to, say, one-half its 1990 level by the year 2000, with sufficient emphasis on female literacy to significantly reduce the current disparity between male and female literacy rates

2.4.1. Background
The target of adult literacy seeks to assess the policy actions and measures taken in the country to meet the learning needs of various categories of adult learners, i.e. the population 15 years of age and above. Adult literacy rate is defined as the percentage of the population aged 15 years and over who can both read and write with understanding a short statement of his/her every day life. A higher literacy rate reflects the existence of an effective primary education system and / or adult literacy programmes that have enabled a large proportion of the population to acquire the ability to use reading and writing with understanding in daily life.

2.4.2 Indicator 16 : Literacy Rate of 15 24 years Old


Literacy rate among the 15-24 year old is suggestive of the level of participation and retention in primary education and its effectiveness in imparting the basic skills of reading and writing. Since the persons belonging to this age group are entering adult life, their literacy level is an important dimension to consider in national human resource policies. Literacy rate of 15-24 years old is defined as the number of persons aged 15-24 years who can both read and write with understanding a short simple statement divided by the total population in that age group. In national censuses and surveys, literacy has been measured by asking a whether a person can read and write, with understanding. Those who declare that they can read and write with understanding are considered literate. Literacy is measured as declared by the respondents and not by administering a literacy test. The literacy rate of the 20-24 year age group has changed little in the past two decades. It is not possible to assess here whether this change is due to changes in measurement procedure or not. The main issue is that at the end of the decade of 1990s 20 percent of the 20-24 year population will remain illiterate. Map No. 7 on Literacy Rate of 15 24 years old population shows how Sabaragamuwa and Central provinces differ from other provinces and records a larger percentage of illiterates.

2.4.3. Indicator 17 : Adult Literacy Rate : Percentage of the Population Aged 15+ that is literate
In Sri Lanka, the adult literacy rate in 1994 is 90 percent. The NEC (1992) planned to provide alternative structures of schooling to give a meaningful and adequate education for drop outs and non-starters. The non-formal education unit of the Ministry of Education & Higher Education has been conducting literacy classes for these groups for a considerable period of

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

time. In 1996, 8123 children were enrolled in 422 literacy classes in the country. But these could not cater to the entire target population. Jayaweera (1992) estimated the percentage enrolled in literacy classes to be less than 5% of the total group needing such education. Gunawardena (1996) in a study of a sample of literacy classes confirmed that only about 5% of functionally illiterate children were enrolled in these classes. The latter study also reported that on the basis of an assessment of literacy through a test, that approximately 56 percent of the rural children and 46 percent of the urban children in literacy classes only were able to read and write. The study found that the majority of the literacy class teachers were not adequately professionally trained, that curriculum materials were not adequately provided or on time, that the environment in the classes was not lively or attractive and that the attendance of the learners was poor an irregular.

Map 7
This situation calls for an expansion of successful basic literacy, post-literacy and continuing education opportunities for the adult population. Adequate resources and infrastructures must be made available for such expansion. One reason for the appearant slow change in literacy is the changing age structure of the population. The presence of larger proportion of the older age group whose literacy levels are lower makes the overall literacy levels lower. Map No. 8 Gives a picture on how Sabaragamuwa Province differs from other provinces in relation to the rate of Adult Literacy

2.4.4. Literacy Gender Parity Index Indicator 18 : Literacy Gender Parity Index : Ratio of Female to Male Literacy Rate
The Literacy Gender Parity Index which is the ratio of female to male adults literacy rate, measures progress towards gender equity in literacy and the level of learning opportunities available for women in relation to those available for men. It also is a measure of the empowerment of women in society. When the literacy gender parity index shows a value equal to 1, female and male literacy rates are equal.

Map 8

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

The Gender parity Index over the years has gone up in Sri Lanka. This is because of the equal opportunities of access to basic education, which the Sri Lankan Education system has offered.

Table 21 : Literacy Gender Parity Index Year Male Female LGPI 1981 90 83 0.83 1984 90 83 0.83 1999 92 88 0.96 Source : MEHE -EMIS Figure 11: Literacy Gender parity Index, 1981, 1984, and 1994

1.00 0.95 0.90 0.85 0.80 1981 1984 1999

(N.B. The latest population statistics available is for 1981. Data gathered through household surveys are available for 1984 and 1999. No national census has taken place since 1981.) At subnational level gender difference exist in districts where over all adult literacy rate is low, such as in Nuwara Eliya and Moneragala. Such differences are also quite prominent in marginalize groups, as seen in the following Table 22.

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

Table 22 : Literacy Gender Parity Index Among Disadvantaged Groups Male Rural peasant Rural working class Urban slums Urban working class Fishing community Plantation community 68 69 50 72 76 79 Female 54 60 12 60 66 38 LGPI 0.8 0.9 0.2 0.8 0.9 0.5

Source Gunawardana et el, 1995

Figure 12: Literacy Gender Parity Index Among disadvantage Groups

1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0


Rural p esan t Rural wo rk in g U rban slum s U rban wo rk in g Fish in g class class co m m un it y P lan t at io n co m m un it y

As elaborated in the above tables and figures the Study in 1995 (Gunawardena, et.al. 1995) of deprived communities has shown that the female literacy in urban slums was as low as 12 percent and gender parity index for this group was 0.25.

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

Part 3 National Agenda for the Future : Suggestions and Recommendations


This part would be devoted to examine policy directions adopted in Sri Lanka in relation to the improvement within the six dimensions of EFA goals. Also this part will state briefly the steps already taken and the future plans to be implemented.

.. 3.4 Adult Literacy


The five-year plan of MEHE includes the following actions with regard to Adult Education to be accomplished within the period 1999 2003 (a). (b). (c). (d). (e). Establishment of 1000 reading centres for adults; Establishment of 1500 non formal technical units in 1AB schools Provision of equipment to 1500 non-formal education units located in 1AB schools Provision of perishables for 1500 non formal technical training units in 1AB schools; Establishment of 2500 training centres for non school going children and adults

The Non-formal education Officers employed at divisional level by MEHE will organize literacy and skill development programmes through their Regional Learning Centres. The NFED of MEHE has already provided guidelines to these officers as to how these programmes should be organized. The NFED re-emphasized their philosophy and line of action with regard to adult literacy on the Literacy Day on 8th September 1999 by declaring a programme for admission of non-school goers and dropouts into the formal education system. This programme envisaged the identification of such children and promoting parents to send them to the formal school. Another significant trend evident in this regard was the initiation made by the Ministry of Youth Services and Sports to promote such children to enter the formal education system. This Ministry with the assistance of the Samurdhi Authority (a programme for alleviation of poverty) and the Samurdhi animators launched a programme to identify these children and provide them with necessary materials and equipment to motivate them to join the formal school. This programme which was accompanied by an extensive mass media campaign will be continued in the future with the support of the MEHE. The Ministry of Social Services is another agent that looks after adult literacy programmes. The literacy and skill development projects conducted by the Ministry of Social Services will be continued without disturbance.

3.5

Training in Essential Skills


Training in essential skills has different dimensions. The Vocational Guidance week held from 13th to 19th September 1999 focussed its attention on the very important aspect of vocational training. This programme was launched by the Ministry of Vocational Training with the assistance of the Vocational and Technical Education Commission. The programme was supported by Mass Media. A series of Radio and TV programmes highlighted the significance of vocational training and identifying a vocation that suits an individual. This programme was an idea proposed by the Presidential Task Force on Vocational Training.

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EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

The Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka has identified Vocational Training Programmes for school leavers at two levels. Level one includes programmes for children who leave the school after the G.C.E. (O.L) examination. These programmes are meant for adult students of 17 25 years old. Duration of these courses ranges from six weeks to four years. The list of training programmes include the areas such as Commerce, Management, Marketing, Engineering, Science, Arts, Languages, Computer, Law, Agriculture, Teacher Education and Garments and Apparel Level two is meant for adult students who leave the school after G.C.E. (A.L) examination. These programmes are meant for adult students in the age range of 17-30 years. Duration of these courses extend from four months to four years. These training programmes are meant for Electricians, T.V & Radio mechanics, Refrigeration and A.C mechanics, Motor mechanics, Lathe operators, Fitters, Welders, Carpenters, Masons, Computer operators, Hotel crews, Gem and jewelry craftsman, Tailors, Health workers, Clerks, Typists, Artists and Printers. The National Youth Council of Sri Lanka (NYSC) an organization established for youth activities has organized a series of programmes to provide vocational training and vocational opportunities for youths. These programmes can be categorized under 06 main objectives :

(A).

Providing vocational guidance to youths. To achieve this objective it has organized the following :
(a). (b). (c). (d). National Vocational Information Centres District Vocational Information Centres National Level Job Fairs District Level Job Fairs

(B).

Providing opportunities to identify alternative jobs or income generating sources. The following activities are organized to achieved the above objective
(a). (b). (c). (d). Establishing 20 Regional training centres Establishing 04 National training centres Launching awareness programmes Conducting orientation programmes

(C).

Developing Business Enterprises belonging to youths The following are the activities organized to achieve the above objective :
(a). (b). (c). (d). (e). Broadening small Business Enterprises Establishing a net work of youth business enterprises Establishing a Technical School for students interested in business Introducing Business Counselling Service Broadening loan facilities for youths

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EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment (D). Providing business counselling for school leavers The following are the activities organized in this regard
(a). (b).

Sri Lanka

Holding vocational guidance programmes for school children Holding a national youth counselling week

(E).

Establishing inter-institutional relationships to facilitate provision of jobs. Activities organized to achieve this objective are as follows :
(a). (b). Establishment of a unit for coordination of the activities of such institutions Establishment of a Human Resource Reserve and Job Information Bank

(F).

Reorganizing youth cooperatives (NYSCO)

In order to reach the above objective the following steps are taken :
(a). (b). (c). (d). (e). (f). Establishment of District Banks Establishment of Sales Units Holding fairs Establishing unified companies with the assistance of youth Co-operative societies Establishing youth cooperative banks Establishing a foundation for small business development

The Department of Technical Education and Training (DTET) extends its services through 36 Technical Institutions. It conducts certificate courses in Business Studies, Technical Courses and Trade Courses. The Sri Lanka Institute of Advanced Technical Education conducts courses in Engineering, Accountancy, Commerce and Agriculture. The Vocational Training Authority conducts 92 courses during the year. The National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority will conduct their 180 courses continuously in future. New courses in the area of Hotel and Tourism, Textile and Garments, Construction, Gem and Jewellery, Information Technology, Computer Training Printing etc., will be introduced anew (Central Bank Report 1998) The Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka has prepared a Career Guidance Directory which provides very important information to adult students who leave school after completing G.C.E. (O.L) and G.C.E. (A.L) examinations. This is a comprehensive document that would provide better information of the various options available for developing a suitable career path and for those wanting to up grade their skills. It also helps parents and counsellors in directing youth to identify a suitable career. The Directory has grouped 205 jobs under the following 18 categories : Managerial and Management Occupations Engineers, Surveyors and Architects Natural Computer and Mathematical Scientists Lawyers, Social Scientists and Social workers Teachers, Librarians and Counsellors Health Diagnosing and Treating practitioners 12 a. Related

b. c. d.

e.
f.

EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment


g. h. i. j. k. l. m. n. o. p. q. r. Health Co-workers Health Technologists and Technicians Writers, Artists and Entertainers Technologists and Technicians other than Health Marketing / Sales occupations Administrative Support Occupations Service Occupations Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Related Occupation Mechanics and Repairers Construction Trades Production Occupations Transportation Occupations

Sri Lanka

This Directory gives details about working conditions training and other qualifications required for the jobs listed.

3.6

Education for Better living


More responsibility of providing Education for better living will rest on Informal Education Agencies. In this context Radio, Television and Newspapers will play a major role. The mass media programmes that are aimed at developing knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for better living are of three kinds. They are programmes for development of knowledge, development of personality attributes and programmes for development of skills. Radio and Television programmes on basic health habits are frequent. Special mass media programmes related to HIV, Polio and other dangerous diseases such as Dengue Fever, Filaria, Malaria, Dysentery etc. are playing a major role in educating for better living. Environmental pollution and conservation are themes that frequently discussed in mass media programmes. Family planning programmes launched by the Health Department is another attempt of educating people for better living. Many programmes aim at developing personality and attributes of people, which ultimately lead them for better living. Dramas, Musical programmes, Feature programmes, Religious programmes contribute to development of positive personality characteristics which promote the quality of living environment. Various competitions such as, Cycle Races, Art festivals, Sports festivals, New Year festivals are some of the programmes organized by Mass media leading to development of certain skills which may be essential for better living. In Sri Lanka the use of electronic and print media for educational purposes have been widened during the last decade. By 1999 eight Television channels are in operation. Seven Radio Broadcasting Services are functioning. Each of these services has special education service programmes. These programmes are of two types. One is curriculum based and the other is based on general themes on education. There is a special unit at the NIE which is involved in educational media programmes. This unit is accomplishing activities such as script writing, production of programmes and arranging broadcasts and telecasts. In this respect Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation which are government services play a major role. In producing educational programmes these two services prepare timetables of their programmes and send them to schools. School heads are supposed to arrange the school activities to suit T.V. and Radio programmes and make provision for students to watch and listen to them. Often special discussion programmes are arranged to educate the general public on matters related to education. In newspapers, special features are arranged on educational issues and problems. Discussions and debates on themes of interest in education which appear in mass media help the general public themselves understand various aspects related to the educational activities carried out in the country. Health and agriculture are two other

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EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

Ministries which are engaged in fulfilling tasks that eventually help improve the quality of life of the general public. Education is the principal agent in increasing the quality of life of the people. In the present context, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Social Services have taken hand in hand with the Ministry of Education & Higher Education in launching programmes to educate the general public as well as the students for better living. For instance the Samurdhi programme meant for improving the quality of life and the non-formal education programmes arranged by National Youth Services Council (NYSC) for adult education are such attempts leading for better living. In addition, the NYSC has launched many other programmes such as Performing Arts, Computer literacy, Beauty culture etc, that lead to improvement of knowledge and skills needed for better living.

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EFA 2000: Literacy Assessment

Sri Lanka

Abbreviations
ADB ADE ADG DE DDE DFID DOE ECCD EFA EMIS ESCAP GCE (O/L) GCE (A/L) GDP GER GNP GTZ LGPI MEHE MLA MPPE MTIP NA NAITA NATE NCOE NER NEC NFED NGO NIE NYSC PDE PEPP PME PMP PSEDP PTR RR SBA SIDA TETD UGC UNESCO UNICEF Asian Development Bank Assistant Director of Education Assistant Director General Director of Education Deputy Director of Education Department for International Development Department of Examinations Early Childhood Care and Development Education for All Educational Management Information System Economic and Social Co-operation for Asia Pacific General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) Gross Domestic Product Gross Enrolment Rate Gross National Product German Agency for Technical Co-operation Literacy Gender Parity Index Ministry of Education and Higher Education Monitoring Learning Achievement Master Plan for Primary Education Medium Term Investment Plan Not Available National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority National Authority on Teacher Education National College of Education Net Enrolment Ratio National Education Commission Non-formal education Department Non Governmental Organisation National Institute of Education National Youth Services Council Provincial Director of Education Primary Education Planning Project Provincial Ministry of Education Primary Mathematics Project Plantation Sector Education Development Project Pupil Teacher Ratio Ready Reckoner School Based Assessment Swedish International Development Agency Teacher Education and Teacher Deployment University Grants Commission United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation United Nations Childrens Fund

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