A survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department has revealed that out of an estimated 4.6 million children, in the age group 5-17 years, in Sri Lanka, 452,661 are not attending school. Of them, about 11 percent have never attended school.
The Child Activity Survey 2016 (CAS 2016), conducted on a request made by the Labour Department, is a countrywide household survey and the third in the survey series. The first CAS was conducted in 1999 and the second was in 2008/09.
Explaining the survey statistics, Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam told the media that the majority 52.3 percent of the children who were not attending school had reported the reason as being ‘awaiting GCE (O/L) results.’
About 30,753 children those who have completed five years of age but had to enter the school in 2017, were also included in the category of children who were not attending schools. In addition 12,751 were studying for GCE O/L from home and 7,537 were engaging in household activities without going to school, Minister Kariyawasam explained.
According to the Education Minister, 6,610 were engaging in vocational training while another 4,913 were waiting for schools to enter Grade One.
Among about 77,730 children were not interested in education as they considered education useless. About 32, 821 children were not attending school at all for other reasons, the Minister noted.
Due to physical disabilities, about 19, 213 children were not attending school while another 14, 922 due to financial issues, 4,709 due to illnesses, 3,853 due to various influences, according to the statistics.
Accordingly,the Education Ministry under the instructions of Minister Kariyawasam has taken steps to send children in the 5-17 age group to school.
Earlier it was compulsory for children aged between 5 and 14 to attend school and the upper age limit has now been increased to 16. The pilot project on implementing a compulsory 13 years of schooling would begin during the current year, Minister Kariyawasam said.