Sri Lanka: Budget 2019 - Education & Skills Development

Rs. 344 billion has been allocated in the appropriation bill for education and higher education.

The 13 years of education programme is a key ongoing project of the government which will expand education opportunities across a range of skill sets. The government is cognizant of the need to invest heavily in education quality to ensure desired outcomes. Envisaged education reforms will help nurture the analytical and creative skills required to thrive in the modern economy.

Rs. 6 billion has been allocated for ongoing education reform programme including substantive curricula reforms. There are ongoing plans for introduction of STEM+A to enable students to combine subjects across streamseg. mathematics with music. A further Rs. 3.6 billion has been allocated to support technological education.     

Rs. 16 billion has been allocated to upgrade overall school facilities including laboratories, libraries, classrooms, and sanitation facilities – a key element particularly to ensure undisrupted education for girls.

Teacher training is also a crucial element of ensuring education outcomes and Rs. 100 million is allocated for continuous professional development for teachers. Additionally, Rs. 500 million is allocated for Tamil Medium teacher training. 

The government will launch the Scholarship for Educational Excellence (SEE) to enable the best performers from Sri Lankan schools to apply to the world’s best universities. The Fund will support the university education of the top performers in each stream and the top performer from each province. 

The government is also supporting the neglected area of pre-school education – a key stage of development of a child. A regulatory framework, including curricula and teacher training, is being designed to enable private participation in the sector as well, supported by a concessionary loan scheme for qualified applicants.Rs. 1.1 billion has been allocated for investment in early childhood development.A network of high quality pre-schools will also support greater participation of women in the work force. 

Higher Education

Rs. 25 billion has been allocated for investments in facilities at universities including professorial units, libraries, theatre complexes and other measures for higher education expansion and development of quality.

Whilst investing heavily in state education, it is necessary to enable an appropriate role for non-state education as well. Towards this end, a loan scheme has been initiated under Enterprise Sri Lanka to extend to students applying to qualifying non-state higher education institutes, Rs. 1 million at a subsidized rate of 6% with a 2 year grace period to be repaid over 15 years.

Skills for Work

Significant investment is being directed to upgrade skills to align human resource capabilities with work force demands. Towards this end, the government is supporting approaches such as apprenticeship programmes and internship programmes that are initiated by the private sector. 

For instance, in sectors such as health and IT, skill development programmes led by the private sector will be supported by the government in the form of stipends during the training period. In the IT sector for instance, graduates in non-technical subjects will be absorbed into the industry for a training period during which time the government will provide a stipend of up to Rs. 25,000/- per month per student.Rs. 300 million has been allocated for this.

Through this approach, the training will be provided for exactly the type of skills required by the industry. A similar approach is being initiated in the nursing sector and pharmaceutical industries. The government is also supporting skill development in the construction sector led by CIDA for which Rs. 300 million has been allocated. This will help develop skills in these key areas. Depending on the success of these programmes, the government will encourage other industry bodies to develop similar projects.

In addition, the Sri Lanka army has a substantial capacity to support the government in its initiatives in skill development for various technical skills to support independent livelihoods. The SLA will provide NVQ certified training programmes in skill areas such as electronics, welding, carpenting, plumbing, agriculture, and animal husbandry. Trainees will be provided with a stipend during the programme. 

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