“Freeing” free education in Sri Lanka

Sharmila Gamlath (Mercury Institute of Management, Colombo, Sri Lanka)

Asian Education and Development Studies

ISSN: 2046-3162

Publication date: 4 January 2013



The research aims to describe Sri Lanka's education system, discuss reforms that have been implemented within the school, university and vocational education sectors in the recent past and suggest potentially fruitful reforms whilst identifying the various constraints which can affect their implementation.


A descriptive approach is employed, with extensive review of related literature and the use of relevant secondary data where appropriate.


The research shows the need for considerable reform of Sri Lanka's education system, especially with regard to improving the quality of state education and encouraging greater private sector participation.

Research limitations/implications

The research shows the deficiencies Sri Lanka's education system suffers from and suggests means to overcome them. However, the political and social pressures may present obstacles upon the implementation of such courses of action.

Social implications

The recommendations offered by the research could make a contribution towards transforming the education system in Sri Lanka into one which can produce empowered individuals who can find employment within the emerging sectors of the economy and thereby improve overall living standards in the country.


The paper makes a novel contribution by encompassing school, tertiary and vocational education in Sri Lanka. It shows the numerous problems that could arise in a context where a universal system of free education from the primary to the tertiary level exists vis‐à‐vis a flourishing private sector, and would be of value to education policy‐planners in Sri Lanka and other countries with both state and private sector provision of education.



Gamlath, S. (2013), "“Freeing” free education in Sri Lanka", Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 34-52. https://doi.org/10.1108/20463161311297617

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