Sri Lanka: Distance Education Modernization Project
This project performance evaluation report assesses the Distance Education Modernization Project, which aimed to help the Government of Sri Lanka modernize the postsecondary education system, in particular through the introduction of online distance education. This was intended to expand postsecondary education opportunities for the large numbers of secondary school graduates unable to gain admission to conventional universities, particularly those in conflict-affected and plantation areas, and was in line with the government’s strategy to strengthen its human resource base. It was intended that this expansion of opportunities would, in turn, promote economic growth and social cohesion across the country.
The capacity, quality, and relevance of learning through online distance education was to be boosted through the establishment of a national distance education network for online learning, with participation of both public and private providers, and upgrading and capacity expansion of the Open University of Sri Lanka. The promotion of new public-private partnerships to expand education and training opportunities relevant to employment was central to the introduction of online distance education.
One of the lessons identified from the project is on requiring risk matrixes for innovative projects. This applies particularly to risk identification, and potential risk mitigation strategies. A range of alternative strategies should be developed in detail for every identified risk, with a common understanding and commitment from ADB and the government. This should be a major focus of ADB-government discussions in project review missions, and should be updated at least annually.
Overall, the project is rated less than successful.