Out-of-school children in Sri Lanka: country study

Organisation(s): Sri Lanka. Ministry of Education; UNESCO; UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Date: 2013

Pages: 135 p.


This study is part of the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children launched by UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics in 2010. Sri Lanka has been selected to conduct a country study on out-of-school children (OOSC) with the objective of examining currently available statistical information on OOSC, scrutinizing factors related to exclusion from schooling, and identifying existing policies that are effective at enhancing participation as well as gaps in policy and social protection provisions. This study uses the Five Dimensions of Exclusion (5DE) to analyse the problem of OOSC. Dimension 1 represents children of pre-primary-school age (four-year-olds only) who are not in pre-primary or primary education. Dimension 2 captures the out-of-school population of primary-school-age children (not in primary or secondary education) and Dimension 3 captures OOSC in the lower-secondary-school age group (not in primary or secondary education). Dimension 4 covers children in primary school who are considered at risk of dropping out, and Dimension 5 covers children in lower secondary school who are at risk of dropping out. Firstly, macro-level data sources were examined to determine how many and which children were out of school and which children were at risk of dropping out. OOSC were also classified by whether or not they were engaged in child labour in order to see whether child labour contributes to why children are not in school. The three main data sources1 used were the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2006/07, the Annual School Census 2010 and the Child Activity Survey 2008/09. Using data from these sources, profiles of children in the 5DE were created. However, it should be noted that the DHS did not cover the five districts of the conflict-affected Northern Province, thus data on OOSC could be under-reported. To refine the profiles of excluded children, the barriers and bottlenecks that are responsible for non-enrolment or dropout of children in Sri Lanka were identified, mainly through an analysis of micro-level studies on OOSC. Policies to address the barriers and bottlenecks were examined in terms of their impact on the exclusion of children. In addition, social protection measures that encourage the education of children and reduce the numbers of OOSC were identified. Finally, recommendations have been made on ways to improve the policy framework to ensure that all children in Sri Lanka are able to access a full cycle of basic education and are protected from exclusion.

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