Sri Lanka is an island that sits just off the eastern coast of India in the Indian Ocean. It is comparable to about half the size of Alabama, but with about 10 times the number of people. Its population currently exceeds 21 million, with a life expectancy rate of about 75 years of age.

The island nation was first known as Ceylon and was a British colony from the late 1700s until 1948. On February 4, 1948, Ceylonese leaders took over and finally made the nation its own self-governing entity.

Following this breakthrough in independence, education in Sri Lanka went through dramatic changes. Literacy rates rose to 97 percent and there was a greater emphasis on improving overall education for Sri Lankans. Today, Sri Lanka has 10,390 schools and school is mandatory for children up to age 13. Schooling is free until this point, along with textbooks and other school materials.

Despite a more involved secondary education, it seems that there is a sudden drop off when it comes to higher education in Sri Lanka. A test comparable to the U.S.’ Scholastic Aptitude Test is taken in order to apply to universities. Yet, because the Sri Lanka has only 15 universities, and very limited space, only six percent of those who apply are accepted.

Thus, Sri Lankan students are beginning to look elsewhere around the globe to further their education. In fact, an information session was just recently held by the Sri Lankan education board to assist those who need to access a United States Student Visa due to furthering their education in the U.S. this fall.

Other nations are stepping up as well. The Embassy of Japan is holding an information session on Sept. 20 in Colombo, Sri Lanka to encourage and assist any students in enrolling at university in Japan. At the meeting, eight Japanese universities will be represented. This is actually the fourth information session held in Sri Lanka by the Japanese.

Improving global education is an issue that requires a collective effort and with nations coming together as they are, literacy rates and education may improve across the entire world.

– Kathleen Lee

Sources: InfoPlease, Fulbright, Colombopage
Photo: Amnesty International Blog