33245-013: Secondary Education Modernization Project.

Project Data Sheet (PDS): Details


The overall objective of the Project is to assist the Government to modernize the secondary school system to prepare the young to compete in the modern global economy. Specifically, the Project will improve the quality of secondary school instructional materials and training to raise the national examination results. Quality improvement will lead to higher pass rates especially through improved access for disadvantaged students by introducing stipends and upgrading selected schools to full curriculum secondary schools in underserved areas. The Project will improve school supervision and management so that teachers and principals have greater control over classroom learning as it affects examination results. Component I will modernize secondary schools by introducing modern teaching, learning and evaluation methods to improve quality. Component II will broadened educational opportunities for disadvantaged students. Component III will improve the delivery of educational services.

Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

While Sri Lanka has achieved progress in basic human development, it has been unable to translate these achievements into broad-based sustainable economic growth. Worse still, the rural poor have not had equal access to opportunities necessary to acquire social and physical capital. A key reason for this failure to achive more rapid economic growth with greater equity is the poor quality of the education system. Strong state dominance and an inflexible regulatory framework that limits choice have characterized the system. There is an over-reliance on national tests as opposed to school based assessment, a mismatch between ability to pay and secondary school educational services offered, little choice in the quality of educatioin especially for the poor or options to avail of scholarships or private partnerships and, finally, weak supervision and management from the national to local level. This has created a secondary school system that graduates students unequipped with marketable skills and unprepared to participate in the modern economy. The result is relatively high unemployment among the educated while emerging modern sector employment opportunities are unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates. It also results in an inefficient and inflexible secondary education system that restructs curriculum choice and occupational opportunities. Sri Lanka views modernization of secondary education as one of the main pillars of its drive for economic and social development and a key to reducing regional disparities. Consequently, there is no choice but to improve school quality by raising standards, improve access especially for the poor through greater choice of quality offerings and improve administrative efficiency through school leadership and decentralization.

Safeguard Categories

Environment: C
Involuntary Resettlement:
Indigenous Peoples:

Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects

Environmental implications were reviewed and no significant adverse environmental impacts were identified. The Project also involves no resettlement or land acquisition. Social assessments indicate that females are well represented in the school system. About 60 percent are in secondary schools and their pass rate in national examinations is higher than that of boys. About 65 percent of secondary schoolteachers are female. Females often find it difficult to relocate to remote schools, thus contributing to the shortage of qualified teachers available for redeployment to rural areas. Schools in Sri Lanka cater to clearly defined ethnic and cultural clientele within a given geographic area. In rural areas, poverty is severe especially in the hill plantation regions in the 24 centers of the country where many families do not own land, and poverty is widespread. Deprivation is measured in terms of lack of access to electricity, potable water, health care, and good schools. Government surveys suggest that families residing in poor areas prefer to migrate to towns and urban centers once they attain marketable skills. Because education is near universal for students up to age 15 or 16, the poor still attend school but are in danger of dropping out when they do poorly on the grade 11 national examination. Monitoring the number of additional students passing the national examinations at age 16 and 18 will indicate the Project s effectiveness and demonstrate how changes in the pass rates affect individual earnings and reduce poverty. Measures of stipend program success can also provide information on poverty reduction.

Project Data Sheets (PDS) contain summary information on the project or program. Because the PDS is a work in progress, some information may not be included in its initial version but will be added as it becomes available. Information about proposed projects is tentative and indicative.

Project Data Sheets (PDS)


29 Mar 2000 to 19 Apr 2000

Management Review Meeting
22 May 2000

Board Approval
12 Sep 2000