The Universal Right to Free and Compulsory Education and the Issue of School Dropout or Early School Leaving in Sri Lanka

Master's Thesis, 2017
69 Pages
Indu Ira (Author)




1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background of the Study
1.3 Statistical Background
1.4 Research Problem
1.5 Research Questions
1.6 Research Objectives
1.7 Organization of the Study
1.8 Conclusion

2.1 Introduction
2.2 Research Design
2.3 Hypotheses of the Study
2.4 Ascertainment of Data
2.5 Comparative Analysis with Other Jurisdictions
2.6 Evaluation of International Conventions
2.7 Conclusion

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Education
3.2.1 Education and Its Impact
3.2.2 Importance of Education Universal Standards of Education Development of Education System in Sri Lanka International Pledging
3.2.3 Benefits of Education
3.2.4 Elementary Education International Standards of Elementary Education National Standards of Elementary Education
3.2.5 State Sector Contribution
3.2.6 Education as a Right
3.2.7 Education Systems Which Have Assured the Right to Education Finnish Education System Current Position of Sri Lanka
3.3 School Dropout
3.3.1 Overview
3.3.2 Causes for School Dropout Causes for School Dropouts as per National Survey Reports
3.3.3 Consequences of School Dropout Costs of Early School Leaving in Europe
3.4 National Data
3.5 Tested Preventive Strategies
3.5.1 Singapore and Its Recorded Education System
3.6 Available Legislations
3.6.1 National Legislations Constitution of Sri Lanka
3.6.2 International Instruments Jurisdiction of India Jurisdiction of Malaysia Jurisdiction of the United States Jurisdiction of Indiana Jurisdiction of Japan Jurisdiction of Pakistan
3.7 Proposals Recommended by Previous Research Outcomes
3.8 Conclusion

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Statistical foundation for analysis
4.3 Impact of International Conventions
4.4 International Conventions and National Obligations
4.5 Constitution and Directive Principles
4.6 Sociological Concerns Anticipated Legal Implications
4.7 Statistical Data Analysis
4.8 Education and Informed Franchise
4.9Adoptability of Comparative Jurisdictional Models to Sri Lanka
4.9.1 The Model of India
4.9.2 The Model of Malaysia
4.9.3 Common Features of Models in India and Malaysia
4.9.4 The Model of Japan
4.9.5 Singapore Model
4.9.6 The Model of USA
4.9.7 Imposition of Penalties
4.9 Conclusion

5.1 Introduction
5.2 Constitutionalization of Right to Education
5.3 Reforms Recommended for Domestic Legislations
5.4 State Duty towards the International Conventions
5.5 Investment in Education and Global Concerns
5.6 Policy Concerns
5.7 Criminal Penalties for Non-Cooperating Parents
5.8 Other Possible Inclusions
5.9 Education and Good Governance
5.10 Conclusion




Countries which have been ranked on the top indexes in economic development were highly dependent on the education of their citizens and their investment in education is very outstanding. Education impacts on all aspects of human life. On the other hand education is a very return worthy investment in human and economic development. This study is mainly conducted on the Research Problem of “What legal reforms could be introduced to overcome the issue of school drop outs or early school leaving in Sri Lanka?” and with allied research questions of What are the unattended causes for early school dropping out?, What are the legal gaps or the vacuities needed novel reforms?, and How could the comparative jurisdictional models be adopted to Sri Lanka? The objective of this study is to recommend suitable legal reforms to overcome the issue of school dropouts. The Research Methodology adopted for the study is comparative in nature and desk based. Constructive comparison of the other jurisdiction is the most affirmative method as it serves the objective of this study to recommend suitable legal reforms. This study recommends that Right to Education should be guaranteed as a Fundamental Right and further forceful legislations to be established to protect the right. This study has some policy concerns for policymakers, such as recommendation to increase the annual budget allocation on free education programs, and to make, take up the concept of “Every Child Matters “at each and every policy making situation.


1.1 Introduction

Education is considered to be the prime and fundamental tool of the development of individuals as well as the society at large; as such the right to elementary education is legally guaranteed in most of the countries in the world. Education essentially contributes to the eradication of poverty and enables all people to live with dignity. Internationally, Education is recognized as an inalienable right and should be obtainable without any discrimination. School dropping out is the negative outcome of this inalienable right, which needs firm solution. This chapter provides background information about the study on the topic of “The Universal Right to Free and Compulsory Education and the sustaining issue of School Dropout or Early School Leaving in Sri Lanka”. Introduction chapter includes the sub topics of; Background of the study, Statistical background, Research Problem, Research Objectives and Organization of the study. This study will work out to define a suitable context to overcome the issue of this School dropping out according to the Research Problem of “What legal reforms could be introduced to overcome the issue of school drop outs or early school leaving in Sri Lanka?”

1.2 Background of the Study

Educationisnot a privilege; it is an inalienable Right. And the access to educationis not a privilege, it is a right. The right to education encloses civil and political rights together with economic, social and cultural rights. In other words the right to education is understood as the learning of rights and responsibilities. (Humme, 2012)

Education and economy go hand-in-hand with two major characteristics viz; Education as a Universal Human Right and Education as an Investment which ultimately reflects the economic development of a country. The State lead education systems mostly concern and take hold of this position when legislating and policy making for education.

Generally, the compulsory education refers to the fundamental period of education and be entitled by all the people and to be guaranteed by law. On the other hand School Dropout rates indicate the weaknesses or the deficiencies of educational policies of the government and also it may indicate the unpredictability of the social and economic goals which are to be obtained in sustainable economic growth.

Plato’s The Republic (C-424-C 348BCE) spell out that “The ideal City would require ideal individuals and Ideal individuals require ideal education” (Revolvy Web site, n.d.)

1.3 Statistical Background

Child population (between the age of 5 to age 17) of Sri Lanka is 5,413,568 as at July 2016 as per the figures given in CIA World Facts Book 2016.National surveys further revealed that the participation in education is not equitable across the country. Children amounts to 51,249 (between the age group of 5 to age 17) have never attended school as per the report of Child Activity Survey conducted in 2016 by the Department of Census & Statistics Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs. It further found that Children amounts to 452,661 (9.9% of the total child population) were not attending to school at the time of the conduction of the survey. In a situation of which the policy makers are pleased with recorded high literacy rates, the reported dropped out or early left out figure is very alarming and very regrettable. It is an eye opening situation that the considerable percentage of total child population of Sri Lanka is out of School due to several unresolved reasons. As per the figures given in “Sri Lanka Socio Economic Data 16” published by Central Bank of Sri Lanka; the No Schooling percentage of 3.7% is figured under the education attainment statistics. These figures compel the legislature and the policy makers to re think about the severity of the possible outcomes of ill education. Sri Lanka has accredited to number of International Conventions such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention on the Rights of Child, International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child and UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education. But the country is still behind in achieving the millennium goal of education for all; comparing with the other zonal countries. And as per the Annual Reports published by Central Bank of Sri Lanka; the government expenditure in education in Sri Lanka currently amounts to about LKR 40,000 million (USD 415 million) annually. And it has been accounted as to approximately 3% of national income in recent years according to the Calculated Revenue and Expenditure Statements and Budget Estimates, recorded in Central Bank Annual Reports. But South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, the model countries of Sri Lankan policy makers; allocate 18%-31% of government expenditure to education from their national allocations. Since the Education is one of the major revenues of these countries, these governments annually invest much percentage for education. Comparatively 3% is very low.(The World Bank, 2005)1

The above statistical records need and request for applicable and progressive legal reforms to overcome the burning issue of school dropout beside much endeavored policy concerns. The purpose of the study is to provide evidence based legal guidance to the law makers and to policy makers of education sector; by which to overcome the burning issue of school dropouts and to eliminate the resulted child labour; and further to guarantee the Universal Right to Free and Compulsory education for all. This dissertation will study intensely to identify the unattended causes for the school dropouts and will look into the legal reforms which could be introduced to combat the issue; by keeping par with the legal contexts of other comparative jurisdictions.

Despite several studies, that had already been done to identify the root causes for school dropouts and to find out solutions or recommendations to overcome the issue, the school dropout is still a prevailing issue. The written literature on early school leaving pointed out that school dropouts, are more frequently associated with Poverty, Estate Sector family mobilization, Migrant worker parenthood, domiciling in coastal area and Health factors. After reviewing the previous written literature on school dropouts; this paper does not see any need of summarizing the said dropout literature totally. Instead, this will focus on to the unattended causes for early school dropping out, and will attempt to trace and evaluate the possible fundamental gaps in the existing legal arena. And will endeavor to analyze the comparative jurisdictional models which could be adoptable. This focus significantly distinguishes the previous literature review on early school leaving, as this will consequently be allied to important policy measures.

As stated the existing literature is mostly concerned and described only on the common causes of; Poverty, Estate Sector family mobilization, Migrant worker parenthood, domiciling in coastal area and Health factors as dropout determinants, and entailed with dropout prevention strategies based on sociological standpoint. The main reason of why the legally based studies of dropout prevention measures or interventions are lacking is; that the issue had only been publicly focused on the sociological standpoint and not by assessing the criticalness of it in legal perspective.

Published statistical figures and sociological surveys broadly marked that School dropouts results, a state of imbalance in society and will tend to cause certain numerical decreases in economy of the country. If to confirm justice to this segregated community of dropouts; some justifiable and enforceable mechanisms are needed. Examination of forcefulness and efficiency of existing legislations is necessary for subsequent study to make up probable legal based solution. As stated, Sri Lanka has ratified for number of significant International Treaties by pledging to guarantee the rights of children. Study assessment will focus on to whether Sri Lanka was able to make such pledges a promising reality by domestic legislations; and to see whether such domestic legislations are adequate to keep the children to stay in school until completing their elementary education. And will examine the relevant committed legal mechanisms of comparative jurisdictions.

1.4 Research Problem

The recent National survey conducted under the theme of “Child Activity Survey” discloses that a remarkable number of school going aged children are out of school. Survey Report requests a long-lasting solution for this dilemma. In order to captivate the needed solution in legal perspective; “What legal reforms could be introduced to overcome the issue of school dropouts or early school leaving in Sri Lanka?” is articulated as the research problem to see the gravity of the problem and to find out the expected outcome of novel legal reform. The Research Questions, set out on the basis of Research problems, are mentioned henceforth.

1.5 Research Questions

What are the unattended causes for early school dropping out?

What are the legal gaps that need to be addressed through novel reforms?

How could the comparative jurisdictional models be adopted to Sri Lanka?

1.6 Research Objectives

To recommend legal reforms to overcome the issue of school dropouts through below mentioned findings.

To find out the unattended causes for early school dropping out

To find out legal gaps that needs to be addressed through novel reforms

To find out suitable mechanisms through comparative analysis from the models of school dropout prevention in different countries

The process used to seek the solutions to the above Research Questions, will be carried out by finding out the proper and appropriate justifications for the following sub inquiries;

(i) What are the unattended causes for early school dropping out?

Is any budget allocation improvement needed?

Were the recent annual allocations able to reach the expected targets?

Is any system change needed for education?

Lacks of prevailing system (compare with systems of other countries)

(ii) What are the legal gaps that need to be addressed through novel reforms ?

Are the available legislations adequate in preventing Dropping out?

What are the related provisions in Constitution?

What are the other regulatory provisions legislated? (Labour Regulations, Compulsory Education Regulation)

Are there any irregularities in establishing the regulations imposed?

(iii) How could the comparative Jurisdictional models be adopted to Sri Lanka?

The applicability of Education system of Singapore

The applicability of Education system of India

The applicability of USA preventive mechanisms

The applicability of Malaysian preventive mechanisms

1.7 Organization of the Study

Chapter 1- Introduction; includes background and significance of the Compulsory education in Sri Lanka written on the basis of latest statistics. The Research Problem and the allied research questions, the purpose of the study are incorporated in this chapter.
Chapter 2 - Methodology; study will be conducted by comparing and analyzing the legal contexts of other jurisdictions as a comparative analysis. It is in comparative in nature to ascertain the expected outcome.
Chapter 3 - Literature Review; based on secondary data obtained from the national surveys to evaluate the severity of the problem. And is reviewed under the sub topics of Importance of Education, Benefits of education, Elementary education, State Sector contribution ,Education as a Right ,education Systems which have assured the right to Education, overview of School dropout, Causes for school dropout, Consequences of school dropout, Data ,Tested preventive strategies, International and National Legislations.
Chapter 4 - Discussion and Analyses; done by discussing and analyzing the Secondary data by linking the same to Research Questions to reach the expected findings. An examination will be conducted to see the available laws that have already attempted to address the issue and the related barriers and to identify the gaps in policy provisioning. All research questions are addressed in this chapter
Chapter 5 - Findings and Recommendations; presents the outcomes of the discussion and analysis. In this chapter, the findings and recommendations are discussed under the headings drawn from the objectives of the research.

1.8 Conclusion

In order to find out the required data and information to assess the gravity of the research problem and to reach the expected research objective; the significance of education and the universal right to education have to be reviewed literally. And the worse outcomes of school dropouts are also to be reviewed factually. National and International legislations are to be constructively reviewed to ascertain the research objective.

This chapter presented an introduction to the study, (the significance of education and the universal right to education, causes and consequences of school dropping out by outlining the major features. Together with the background of the study, the Research Problem, purpose of the study, objectives of the study, research questions were incorporated in this chapter. The next chapter incorporates literature review. It provides the review of the relevant literature related to the research problem under discussion.


2.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the research method employed in this study to reach the research objective of to make recommendations for legislative reforms to overcome the issue of school dropouts based on the legal contexts introduced by the comparative jurisdictions. This chapter constitutes sub topics of, Research design, Hypothesis of the study, Ascertainment of data and Comparative analysis with other jurisdictions and Evaluation of International Conventions.

2.2 Research Design

This research aims at to find out that; to what extent that the other comparative jurisdictional models were able to develop their legal mechanisms to overcome the issue of dropout or early school leaving within their territory and to make recommendations for legislative reforms to overcome the issue of school dropouts in Sri Lanka based on the mechanisms developed and introduced by the said comparative jurisdictions. It will be carried out through analytical method by examining the positive resulted modern text of legal concepts and rules in different jurisdictions and will progress into find common parts and differences. And the ideal types will ascertain as models to implement or to enforce in responding to the Research Problem of,” What legal reforms could be introduced to overcome the issue of school drop out?

The Comparative method of comparing and analyzing the legal contexts of other jurisdictions was used as the research method for the very reason that, since it could help to develop and to produce the expected suitable new legal reforms. Comparative method facilitates better understanding about the other jurisdictional models. And also it increases the importance of harmonization and unification of international laws; and thereby leading to more international cooperation for better world order.

Comparative method is used, for it serves the intention and the aim of the study very effectively and it will help to develop the process in formation of a suitable reform. When look into the ways or the options for law reforms; could consider the mechanisms of the other jurisdictions; which have already tried to ascertain the problem and the solutions appropriated. This strategy is more applicable in improving national laws.

2.3 Hypotheses of the Study

Preventive mechanism by means of novel legal reforms could really be the prospective solution for school dropout in Sri Lanka. The available legislations and statutory provisions were not capable or adequate to prevent the dropout issue so far. The available legislative mechanisms and the enforcement mechanisms are not competent enough to bring about a potential mechanism to prevent dropouts and to comply with the international obligations in this regard. The study is comparative in nature and desk based. The legislations relevant to prevention of school dropouts in comparative jurisdictions are analyzed. This study aims at law reform by means of comparative analysis method.

2.4 Ascertainment of Data

The Research Methodology adopted for the study is entirely based on literature and comparative in nature as mentioned earlier. The current position and the gravity of the problem is initially be assessed by evaluating the published data. The study foundation was built upon data and related statistics found from below mentioned sources;

World Facts Book 2016,

Report on Child Activity Survey 2016-Department of Census & Statistics Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs

Prisons Statistics of Sri Lanka for the year 2015

Annual Reports published by Central Bank of Sri Lanka

Statistics published by International Labour Organization

Official website of Statistics Department of Sri Lanka

Official website of Ministry of Education

The required information within the scope chosen, and the related legal statutes, were appropriately taken down from the related official websites, published journals, published dissertations, and from enacted texts of statutes of selected jurisdictions. The study was carried out by analyzing the related statutes, and by examining the available data information obtained as secondary data from different sources like books, internet, articles etc.

The required Secondary data was gathered from census and statistic surveys and published annual reports of Central Bank and of other Ministerial authorities; which gave an immense weight to this study; since the well authoritative persons are responsible for data gathering, calculations and for official publications. These data is recorded and were evaluated according to the internationally acceptable modes. And it is accessible since the data is stored in electronic format; and is free of gathering cost and time.

As per the Preface of “ Child Activity Survey 2016” the survey was conducted to cover the whole country and it collected the data related to children aged 5-17 years in the areas of schooling, working conditions, child labour, health conditions and living conditions. There by the data and information taken from “Child Activity Survey 2016” in this study is more reliable and definite; since the Child Activity Survey (CAS) has been conducted in Sri Lanka since 1999 by the Department of Census and Statistics.(Department of Census and Statistics of Sri Lanka, 2016)

This study chose secondary data mainly for the very reason that; the aim of this study is to propose a workable legal reform. Secondary data (Legal Texts of comparative jurisdictions) provides way to access the contextual works of genius drafters and it supplies a framework or a sketch to this study for way forward. Published secondary data save time and money in recurrence work. In order to minimize the risk of reliability and accuracy the statistically related secondary data was obtained from recognized and acceptable sources such as economic journals and UN publications. To overcome the variable concerns on environmental back ground; the comparative jurisdictions were chosen within the region; by considering the world indexes ranked by them in the fields of education, economy and health. In every possible situation the updated secondary data was used for this study to get the most possible outcome.

2.5 Comparative Analysis with Other Jurisdictions

Study is done by making a comparative study with the jurisdictions of India, Singapore Malaysia and United States of America. India was chosen because of the very reason that; it has more than 16 years of experience in establishing the Right to Education as a Fundamental Right in its Constitution in 2002 and subsequently by enacting the Right to Education Act No.2009 with the greater intention of getting children into school. Singapore was chosen because it has proved the world that their educational policies and related legislations were productively tooled to make children stay in school under their vision of “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation” to provide skilled workforce for Singapore’s industrialization programs. Education in Malaysia aims to produce potential individuals who are knowledgeable and competent, and who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced. This effort leads Malaysia to achieve 14th rank among 142 countries and to become the Second in Asia for quality education; as per the World Economic Forum's global competitiveness Report.(The Star Online, 2012)

United States of America was chosen for the comparative study because it has tested number of legislation efforts to overcome the school dropout issue and to the fact that it shares common features of other democratic countries.

2.6 Evaluation of International Conventions

International conventions were studied, acknowledging the worldwide applicability and recognition. Member States of the United Nations have willingly accepted these Conventions as a tool of guaranteeing the children’s rights. Without paying greater concern to the International conventions of UDHR, CESCR, CCPR and mostly the CRC, the empowerment of Children’s Right to Education cannot be discussed about. Convention on Child Rights as the very first binding legal context, considered the children’s wellbeing very effectively than ever before. CRC ensures children’s right to compulsory education by its provisions provided in Articles 28 and 29. Further it provided and required that “States to take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates”. The CESCR explicitly recognizes the right to education together with rights of economic, social and cultural rights, and made concerns to prohibition of forced labour. These International legal Instruments compiled with obligatory norms operate as models for domestic legislations of member states.

2.7 Conclusion

This study used the comparative research method entirely based on literature review. The study used Secondary data pertaining to current statistics of the related problem and needed information about the draft legal Texts of comparative Jurisdictions which could provide model frame work for the hypothesis framed.


3.1 Introduction

This chapter focuses on the review of relevant literature on the sub topics of Importance and Benefits of Education and the Universal right to education and the factors relating to school dropping out. And also discusses statistics available on school dropouts and its negative outcome according to the latest survey reports. This chapter reviews the National and International legislations constructively to ascertain the research objective.

3.2 Education

3.2.1 Education and Its Impact

Education system of a country enormously contributes to the development of its nation; and the objectives of education system demonstrate the picture of that nation. By and large the objectives of education should be focused to develop the moral and social facet of human being. Significance of education and the universal right to education have to be reviewed more and more.

As per the words of Great Philosopher Plato (427 – 348BC) “No man should bring children into the world, who is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nurture and education”. Education produces well behaved citizens required by the society and economy; whom are usually committed to their families and the community in general. Education produces trained professionals and offer better chances who would lead a financially stabled life.

Chinese signifies the importance of education by stating “If you plan for a year, sow rice; If you plan for a decade; plant trees; If you plan for life time; educate people”. Education shows the correct path and the values of human life. In other words education safeguards the children from undue exploitation in forms of child labour and sexual abuse. Scholars interpret education as one of the best financial investment that a state could make.

Once, the great Leader Mahatma Gandhi stated’ live as if you were to die tomorrow; Learn as you live forever”; learning is a cost-effective investment for future and; no conscious person could prevent any body from learning. Education generates economic and social prosperity. Education opens access and opportunities to employment and curtails poverty significantly; which is a vital element to sustainable development. Education empowers the mankind with self-dignity in broadly and produces the demanded skilled and competent workforce for the nation.

3.2.2 Importance of Education

In the case of Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka,347U.S.483(1954) the Supreme Court of United States very broadly interpreted the significance of education in following words: “It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Thus, today education is the principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values and grooming him for professional training and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment." Hence; education prepares mankind more liberal and confer him with cultural values to be practiced in the righteous manner.

Children of a nation are the future workforce of the country or the future leaders of the society. The competent and educated youth work force plays a key role in the knowledge based economy. Generally schools operate with the vision to educate and to make children more responsible and socially skilled with the needed knowledge. As the first step in formation of a secured just society, universality of education is an absolute pre-requisite Universal Standards of Education

The universal concept of “education should made for the best interests of the children” and be obtainable in following four broad standards (the 4-A standards) proposed and set by Katarina Tomasevski, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

Availability: educational institutions and programs have to be formatted and available in sufficient quantity, school buildings, water, and sanitation facilities, trained teachers, teaching materials etc.

Accessibility: educational institutions and programs have to be accessible to everyone without discrimination and have to be affordable.

Acceptability: curricular and teaching methods have to be relevant, culturally appropriate and of good quality.

Adoptability: education has to be flexible to adopt the changing needs of children, community and society.

The global ranking of educational systems called “The Learning Curve” in 2014 has rated the performance of various school systems and reported that “culture of accountability” asthe reason South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong were ranked in the top four for their overall education performance. The report further states that “education correlates with economic growth: the average time spent in school by a country’s students and the labor productivity of its workers has been statistically linked for the last two decades.”(Molnar, 2014)2 Development of Education System in Sri Lanka

The institutional based education system was brought into Sri Lanka, during the colonial era under the British rule. In 1931 under the Donoughmore Commission, the distinguished, educated native Sri Lankans had the great opportunity to become members of the Executive Committees; which was the turning point receiving recognition to education. The late Honorable CWW Kannangara; the very prominent Minister of Education in Independent Sri Lanka took diligent efforts to establish the free education for all in Sri Lanka. Strengthening the free education system, the most praised Madya Maha Vidyala or the Central Collage system was set up. Still he is honored as the “Father of Free Education” in name of the services rendered by him to our country. He implemented the free education and initiated the Grade 5 Scholarship Scheme to assist less privileged gifted students. The succeeding state leaders namely Hon. Sirimavo Bandaranaike had taken steps to transform private schools to government schools and the first President of Republic of Sri Lanka, JR Jayewardene has launched a program to up bring the free education by providing free text books and school uniforms to school children. In 1990 the National Education Commission made recommendations to transform the existing education system in order to fit in with the global and socio economic changes. These proposals were mainly focused on to improve the quality of education and to provide education for all. Although the proposals were adopted as reforms; still there is a gap to be sealed; the generation had not yet been fully benefitted. International Pledging

The initiative of Vision 2030 states that “Our vision is to transform lives through education, recognizing the important role of education as a main driver of development and in achieving the other proposed Sustainable Development Goals. We commit with a sense of urgency to a single, renewed education agenda that is holistic, ambitious and inspirational, leaving no one behind. This new vision is fully captured by the proposed SDG 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”(UNESCO, 2015)3

3.2.3 Benefits of Education

UNESCO states that global poverty could be dropped down by 12% if low income countries potent to make their children equipped with basic literacy skills when they leave school.

As per the paper compiled by Alain Mingat, Institut de Recherche sur l'Economie de l'Education (IREDU),Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France and Jee-Peng Tan, Human Development Department ,The World Bank in 1996 under the title of “The Full Social Returns to Education” ,reports that Individuals get returns to education firstly by Increased market productivity (reflected in earnings or other work outputs) and secondly by Private non market effects (better personal health, expanded capacity to enjoy leisure, increased efficiency in job search and other personal choices). At the same time Society gets returns to education firstly by Expanded technological possibilities (discovery, adaptation and use of new knowledge in science, medicine, industry, and elsewhere) and secondly by Community non market effects (greater social equity, more cohesive communities, stronger sense of nationhood, slower population growth and related alleviation of environmental stress, reduced risks from infectious diseases, crime reduction).

In other words education does benefit not only the student and his/her family; the society and economy also may be benefitted with expected returns when citizens receive education and begin to receive better salaries. As stated above educated individuals make Good Citizens. Many adults who have completed high school levels are usually family committed and dutiful, religious and generous in their social life. Education makes trained professional and skilled human resource; the trained professional workforce of good education is a key factor of a country’s economy. The higher level of education a person obtains, the greater chances he/she will lead a financially stable life.

3.2.4 Elementary Education

Mostly the Elementary Education is referred to as the Primary education, which commences at the age of Six (6) and extends to the age of Fourteen (14) as per the International Standard Classification of Education. But as per the Education system in Sri Lanka it extends from Grade 1 to Grade 5 in School. And the school education is compulsory up to the Age of 14. Recently a policy decision has been taken to raise it up to the age of 16. Primary education is the very prominent Fundamental Right of every child. It is an inalienable unique right but not a privilege. The main purpose of primary education is to prepare the child to formal education with stable foundation of the basics of understanding of general ethics, norms and standards of knowledge around. Primary education gives basic knowledge in Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Religion and Life skills development. The responsibility rests in the hands of the State to provide primary education without any cost and to make it available with no discrimination. To make a just society, the universal primary education is an absolute pre-requisite. And it is also an essential component of sustainable development.

Studies on elementary education understand Elementary education as the first and foremost avenue in self-advancement and it functions as the indicator to reduce the constant and inter-generational poverty. They believe that the universal Elementary education is a mandatory pre-requisite to sustainable development. Every single child is entitled to have a chance to complete his/her full course of Elementary education. In order to compete with the surrounding world, children should be taught to get sharpen their potentials, and to learn the way to interact with people in general during their early years of childhood. International Standards of Elementary Education

Further studies identified comprehensive education incorporates three key aspects such as knowledge, skills and attitudes. The Common perception about education is that the education reaches the end when a child transit to adulthood and begins to work. But however the process of learning is a continuous stream and drive people to reach their boundaries, innovations, creations and possible imaginations.

The first five years of child’s school life is very much contributory and very much vital to the total development of his or her personality. The formal Elementary Education is delivered in three phases.

1st phase - Grades I and II
2nd phase - Grades III and IV
3rd phase - Grade V

At 1stphase, a bigger part of the school time will be spent on guided play learning through activities and components of activity and lesser amount of deskwork. At 2nd phase the three approaches of guided play, activity, and desk work will be given equal prominence, while at 3rd phase the deskwork will dominate. Concepts relating to stabilization of morals, inculcation of values, development of tolerance, appreciation of other social groups and cultures, and living in harmony will run as unifying threads through all three phases.

Some Educationists streamlines elementary education as the way which provides the first several years of a child’s formal education. In some countriesrequire it up to 7 years with structured Elementary schooling, while some others provide consist of 5 or 6 years. The elementary level is very much instrumental in setting up the person’s educational background in following manner;

- Basic Education Foundation– Children learn basics skills in reading and writing, as well as the concepts of language, math, science and culture, among other subjects.
- Opportunity to Develop Life Skills–Important life lessons are taught at Elementary education level; learn how to differ the right from wrong, and the mode to set and reach goals, how to appreciate diversity, make good decisions and develop social skills and a solid moral character.
- Gain resources andopportunities– Attending school allow children to be a part of the community. National Standards of Elementary Education

In Sri Lanka the comprehensive period of schooling commences from the lower kindergarten, at the age of five years and up to the grade 10. For the purpose of this study, the upper grade has been restricted to grade IX, in order to be in line with the past studies on this subject. Further, the period of 5-14 years of age is generally regarded as the compulsory stage of education, although it has not been made a Fundamental Right by the Constitution of Sri Lanka. The comprehensive phase of schooling is therefore defined as the period from 5 to 14 years of age, and the grade range I to IX. Internationally drop-out is regarded as a child who leaves school without having completed grade IX. (Perera & Wijedasa, n.d.)4


1 Treasures of the Education system in Sri Lanka, World Bank 2005

2 Molnar, Michele, Pearson’s Global Education Index Ranks U.S. 14th in Learning and Skill Attainment

3 Incheon Declaration, World Education Forum 2015

4 Perera, MSD; Wijedasa, R

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The Universal Right to Free and Compulsory Education and the Issue of School Dropout or Early School Leaving in Sri Lanka
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