Sri Lanka has made significant progress in primary education, but there are still some gaps and challenges that need to be addressed, Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said.

While addressing a workshop organized by UNICEF to discuss the way forward in primary education in Sri Lanka, he said children, who represent 30 percent of Sri Lanka’s total population, are disproportionately impacted by humanitarian crises and they require special care and attention.

“As in many other countries, during the COVID-19 pandemic, our school system faced many serious problems. Hence, the primary education sections were mainly affected due to that.

“Children face the risk of separation from their families or may not be able to access critical services such as health, nutrition, water, sanitation, education and protection,” he said.

“In areas with existing vulnerabilities such as poverty, young people are even more vulnerable to chronic malnutrition, food insecurity, child labour, trafficking, and exploitation, and they may drop out of school at increased rates.

“Furthermore, children and young people are now part of a generation that will have to deal with increasingly adverse, climate change related events. UNICEF coordinates, strengthens, and executes response plans in the face of such crises through early warning mechanisms, emergency operations, and development planning in coordination with the Government of Sri Lanka and key ministries. 

“Quality education, learning outcomes, regional disparities, infrastructure and facilities, teacher shortage and quality, inclusive education, parental engagement, and early childhood education can be addressed as some key gaps in the primary education sector of Sri Lanka. 

“These gaps require concerted efforts from policymakers, educators, parents, and the community. It involves investing in infrastructure, improving teacher quality, curriculum development, and implementing effective monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure progress and bridge the gaps in the primary education sector of Sri Lanka,” the Minister said.