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Reopening schools in the New Normal: Key focus areas for Sri Lanka



The decision to gradually reopen Sri Lankan schools – which have been shut for close to 20 months since COVID-19 first struck – is a welcome move. As of September 2021, 93% of countries had reopened schools either completely or partially, making Sri Lanka one of the last to do so. Previous IPS blogs have pointed to multiple access and quality issues facing the country’s distance education efforts, calling for the establishment of a comprehensive education recovery strategy for the future. The accompanying decision to devote the next six months from November 2021-April 2022 to recovering learning losses, giving precedence to essential syllabus areas and decision-making flexibility to schools, is encouraging news, in this context. This blog provides some insights into the current education recovery practices being adopted globally and draws attention to some important areas that can be incorporated into the current strategies being devised in Sri Lanka.

Monitoring and Preventing School Dropouts

According to a joint UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank Survey of 143 countries conducted between February – June 2021, only half, and less than a third, of developed and developing countries, respectively, reported that all primary and secondary students returned to schools when reopened. Common methods used to identify and prevent dropouts include school-based tracking mechanisms, financial incentives (cash, food, or transport), waived fees, community engagement programmes, and revised access policies. Brazil’s School Active Search system, for example, brings together local government agencies in education, health, social assistance and planning, to identify, register, and monitor out-of-school children and those at risk of dropping out.

Measuring Learning Losses

Measuring learning loss is an essential first step in mitigating its consequences. According to the joint survey, 58% of countries reported having conducted formative assessments to measure learning loss, while only one-third relied on standardised assessments. Existing research also points to the relative importance of formative assessments to estimate learning losses, as opposed to standardised testing which is more effective in the long-term. Formative assessments are geared towards informing in-process teaching and learning modifications, and include tools such as quizzes, journal entries, essays, and works of art. The focus is largely on remediation interventions and/or re-teaching content from the previous year, foundational skills, and adapting instruction to the level of each student.

Adjusting and Prioritising Curricula

To help students catch up once they return to school, 42% of countries surveyed reported prioritisation of certain areas of the curriculum or certain skills. The most likely areas or skills to be targetted include foundational skills in numeracy, literacy, and socio-emotional resilience. In terms of specific country examples, in Odisha State, India, the Central Board of Secondary Education has reduced the syllabi by 30%, to allow students to focus on a few subjects and learn these well. Bangladesh’s education recovery programme includes a condensed syllabus for the next two years, focussing on important subjects such as mathematics, Bengali, English, and science.

High-Stake Examinations

According to the joint survey, countries introduced several changes to exams, such as adjusting content, changing the number of subjects examined or questions asked, and mode of administration. Cancellation of examinations were limited to high- and upper-middle income countries, ranging from a share of 30% in primary grades to 18% in upper secondary education.

Immediate Focus Areas for Sri Lanka

Although somewhat late, it is encouraging to note that some of these worldwide practices are currently being considered in Sri Lanka too. Along with more concrete details and clearer strategies for implementation, Sri Lanka’s education authorities should focus on the following to minimise further learning loss and safeguard student welfare:

Ensure all children return to school

While boasting commendable enrolment rates at the primary and lower secondary levels, student dropouts at higher education levels is a longstanding problem in Sri Lanka. Post-pandemic dropout rates are likely to be considerably higher, particularly in remote and marginalised areas. It is thus essential that immediate data collection and monitoring is undertaken to initiate action and bring back all students to schools. The country’s well-established decentralised education administration system can facilitate coordination among zonal and divisional education authorities and Grama Niladhari divisions to collect data and work closely with parents and communities, in this regard.

Provide general guidance on curricula adjustments and measuring learning losses, while maintaining flexibility

The intention to focus on revised curricula targets over the next few months and to provide principals and teachers with flexibility in deciding how to cover curricula are welcome moves, given the multiple social, economic, and emotional impacts undergone by children during the pandemic, to significantly varying degrees. Such adjustments, however, need to be based on the extent and nature of learning losses experienced by students, for which conducing formative assessments is key. It is thus best that this flexibility is balanced with some general guidance on essential learning competencies for students around which curricula adjustments can be made, and benchmark diagnostic tests and guidance for teachers to assess student learning, especially in switching from formal to formative type of assessments.

The Ministry of Education should conduct careful evaluations on the timing of and the content to be tested at highly competitive national examinations and establish a new examination policy which is clearly communicated to teachers and students, leaving no room for ad-hoc changes. For instance, given the directive to focus on priority areas of the curricula in the next six-month period, the examinations should also be adapted accordingly. Some options include limiting the grade five scholarship examination to an intelligence test, replacing examinations from grades six to nine with diagnostic tests, and limiting the G.C.E. O-Levels to core subjects.

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Ashani Abayasekara is a Research Economist at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) with research interests in labour economics, economics of education, development economics, and microeconometrics. She holds a BA in Economics with First Class Honours from the University of Peradeniya and a Masters in International and Development Economics from the Australian National University. (Talk with Ashani –

Usha is a Research Assistant currently working on Health, Labour and Education Policy at IPS. She holds a BA in Economics with First Class Honours from the University of Colombo. (Talk with Usha –

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DIMO CERTIFIED guarantees peace of mind for vehicle owners seeking a luxury upgrade



DIMO, one of the leading conglomerates in Sri Lanka, is providing customers who are planning to buy pre-owned luxury vehicles, with speedy, hassle-free, trusted service, through its pre-owned vehicle sales arm ‘DIMO CERTIFIED’.

With the re-launch of DIMO CERTIFIED in 2019, the company has expanded its range of pre-owned vehicles beyond Mercedes-Benz & Jeep models by also offering hand-picked and well-maintained Luxury European vehicle brands registered within the past 10 years, under one roof.

With its 80 year history, DIMO offers unparalleled trust and reliability of expertise in the automotive industry where all vehicles come with a minimum of One Year warranty against unlimited mileage. All vehicles handpicked by DIMO CERTIFIED are guaranteed to have genuine mileage with precise servicing and maintenance since the day of import to the country. Vehicles that are bought from DIMO CERTIFIED are assured of a high resale value due to the comprehensive checks done at the time of purchase for resale and thereafter being refurbished to a standard ‘as Good as New’. In the event the new buyer is selling the vehicle at some point in the future, DIMO CERTIFIED also offers a guaranteed buy back facility.

Customers can avail themselves to attractive Personal Contract Plans with lowest interest rates from some of Sri Lanka’s leading financial institutions where they can drive away in their new Luxury European vehicle by making only a 30% down payment. In the event the buyer decides to upgrade to another vehicle prior to the end of the leasing period, DIMO will also step in to settle the balance payment immediately and extend the opportunity to trade-in for another vehicle of their choice.

The highly-reliable DIMO 24-hour Roadside Assistance provides customers ‘peace of mind’ wherever they travel in their vehicle as expert help during a rare breakdown is only a phone call away.

General Manager – DIMO CERTIFIED Pre-Owned Vehicles of DIMO, Tharanga Gunawardena stated, “We have been able to successfully elevate the pre-owned business to a whole new level through our DIMO CERTIFIED service. We have enhanced our services by adding several attractive features to set the benchmark for the automobile industry. Those who want to realize their aspiration of owning a Mercedes-Benz, Jeep or any other Luxury European vehicle need not look elsewhere.”

All the vehicles available at DIMO CERTIFIED along with special offers are displayed on the website and provides a hassle-free way for prospective buyers to access all key details. Customers are assured of the best prices when purchasing their vehicle while special trade-in options are also available for regular customers. With highly-experienced technical professionals providing the best after-sales service, DIMO CERTIFIED customers can enjoy a hassle-free experience with their Luxury European vehicle. A dedicated WhatsApp number 0771449797 has been made available for customers to contact a Sales Consultant directly to enquire about any product or offer listed on the website.

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Chrissworld engages CDS for registrar services



Central Depositary Systems (Pvt) Ltd (CDS), a fully owned subsidiary of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), has strengthened its client base for the provision of registrar services with the addition of Chrissworld PLC. The CDS will provide the listed company with a variety of services such as share ledger maintenance, virtual AGM’s and all types of corporate actions. The CDS plays a role in driving innovation and offering cost effective solutions with value additions.

Speaking at the development, the CEO of the CSE, Mr. Rajeeva Bandaranaike, said, “We welcome Chrissworld PLC to the CDS portfolio. The CDS is uniquely positioned to offer value added Registrar services to listed entities in Sri Lanka, and the CDS is very confident that Chrissworld PLC will fully benefit from the services provided .”

Chairman of Chrissworld PLC, Mr. Christopher Perera stated, “We are very pleased to sign this agreement with the CDS as the registrar. The process of working with the CDS has been a rewarding experience for Chrissworld PLC, and going forward, we are confident that there will be excellent co-operation between the two companies and that the CDS will efficiently manage all our affairs. “

Chrissworld PLC was founded in 2013 and provides third-party logistics services specializing in warehousing, inventory management, distribution, and transportation. The company was listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange on May 18th, 2021, the first ever company to be listed on the Empower Board.

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Women in Management, IFC and Government of Australia recognise inspiring women from Sri Lanka and Maldives



The ‘Top50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2021 – hosted by Women in Management (WIM), in collaboration with Women in Work, a partnership between IFC and the government of Australia – recently honoured inspiring professional and career women in Sri Lanka and Maldives making a mark in their respective fields.

The 11th edition of the awards ceremony celebrated women representing a wide array of professions from industries including hospitality, banking and finance, logistics and supply chains, entrepreneurship, and media and law, among others, for excellence in either their chosen careers or for inspiring women in their community. The awards also lauded Sri Lankan corporates that have supported the growth and empowerment of women in the workplace.

Top awards were conferred to Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy (Inspirational Professional Woman of the Year), Prof. Nadira Karunaweera (Inspirational Woman of the Year), Aruni Goonetilleke (Trail Blazer), Randhula De Silva (Game Changer of the Year) and Dr. Vajira Chithrasena (Judges Award). The full list of awardees is listed below.

“The 2021 awards are a celebration of resilience, optimism, hard work and growth. As we step into a third year of a pandemic, this year’s winners remind us of the possibilities and opportunities that can exist in adversity,” said Dr. Sulochana Segera, Founder/Chairperson of Women in Management (WIM). “They also remind us of the extraordinary potential women in Sri Lanka and the Maldives are capable of, especially in challenging the status-quo for greater good. Women are often hesitant to take their spot in the limelight, but over the past decade, the Top50 Awards have created a platform helping them showcase their talents and achievements, and importantly to inspire others.”

With over 470 past award winners, the ‘Top50’ Professional and Career Women Awards aim to showcase the significant role women play as leaders, employees, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders in contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the country.

Marking IFC’s seventh consecutive year in co-hosting the event, Victor Antonypillai, Acting Country Manager for IFC Sri Lanka and Maldives said, that “To ensure a resilient recovery, the path should be gender inclusive – women should be at the heart of the path to recovery. We need to ‘build forward fairer’ for economies and societies to build back better.” Supported through the IFC-DFAT Women in Work program, this year’s Top50 Awards aims to showcase the resilient leadership Sri Lankan women have shown, amid a pandemic.

Also, speaking at the event, David Holly, Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives remarked that, “Over the years, the ‘Top50’ Awards have shown the power of women in business inspiring many others in leadership and in society more generally. The 2022 Awards are a tribute to the resilience of Sri Lankan women, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2021 were powered by Dialog, along with Gold Sponsors Salota International and Singer. Silver sponsors for the awards included Lanka IOC, Unilever, Vision Care and Aitken Spence. Maliban and Sampath Bank were also sponsors of the event, and the gifting Partner for the award ceremony was New Vivya.

Speaking of the award winners, Nadija Tambiah, Head of Legal, Secretarial and Corporate Social Responsibility at John Keells Holdings and Chair of 2021 Judging Panel, said that the “quality of the women who were nominated or who applied this year was impressive. We were forced not only to look at the accomplishments of these women in their chosen vocations but also what impact they have had in the industry and what they have done for women in their organisations.”

This year’s Judging Panel—chaired by Nadija Tambiah—included Jayanthi Dharmasena, Managing Director of Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Ltd; Kishu Gomes, Group MD/CEO of Dreamron Group of Companies; Nisthar Cassim, Founding Editor and CEO of Daily FT; Rohantha Athukorala, CEO of Clootrack Sri Lanka/Maldives & Pakistan; Sandra De Zoysa, Group Chief Customer Officer at Dialog Axiata PLC; Sandya Salgado, Strategic Marketing Professional; Santosh Menon, CEO of KL.LK; Amanda Jewell, Acting Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka; and Sarah Twigg, Program Manager for Women in Work at IFC.

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