In Sri Lanka, there are 10,135 public schools and about 300 international schools and 110 private schools. In all the 10,135 schools we have a 4.1 million student population in Primary, Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary grades.
In the Primary sections, we have a 1.6 million student population. At the moment, the Government is committed, through the yearly National Budget, to allocate USD 61 million to provide 1 million students a midday meal. We are planning to increase the number up to 1.6 million students, covering all primary students by 2024. And by 2030, we hope to cover all 4.1 million public school students, by increasing the Budget allocation to USD 204 million.
At the moment, we are being supported by the World Food Programme, USAID and the corporate sector of the country, and some NOGs. Not only that, we have taken a policy decision to introduce a new Act to set up a State School Nutrition Support Fund, to be established by the beginning of next year. And the draft has already been done by the Legal Draftsman’s Department.
A salient feature in Sri Lanka for the past 76 years is that from Grade 1 to First Degree, the education is free. We distribute free text books from Grade 1 to 12, and we also provide free uniform materials for all 4.1 million students.
Among all its constraints, the Government is still committed to providing midday meals to students. We have a health policy for students, because in Sri Lanka, our education administrative structure is parallel to the health ministry structure. So, at the provincial level, divisional and regional levels, we have a system to coordinate between health authorities and educational authorities.
Every year, for primary students, we have health screening, where we measure their height, their weight and we know exactly what the vulnerable areas where we need more attention.
We are going forward with these and the Government is committed to continue providing these.
In Sri Lanka, the literacy rate is 93%. The enrolment to Grade 1 by the completion of 5 years of age is almost 99%. Except for the students who need special education, all other students get enrolled to schools at the age of 5. And the primary completion rate is also the same. Only at the Ordinary Level stage you find a 3 to 5% dropout rate.