Estate sector needs more income-generating avenues to keep children in school: IPS | Sri Lanka News


Source: Institute of Policy Studies 


  • Calls on govt. to implement ‘special programmes’ to increase income sources of adults in deprived regions 
  • Facilitate continuation of school meal programme 
  • Help estate children to recover lost learning from pandemic closures by rolling out special ‘catch-up programmes’ 

In an effort to prevent the children of the estate sector from falling deeper into the socio-economic crisis faced, the relevant authorities must look at introducing new programmes that expand the earning capacity of adults, so that the school-going age group is kept away from seeking employment, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) said.

A study carried out by the economic think tank called for the implementation of ‘special programmes’ to increase the income sources of the adults in deprived regions, which would be beneficial in discouraging their children from engaging in economic activities while encouraging them to attend school.

Research studies that focus on the plight of estate sector children highlight that there is a rise in the number of children dropping out of school in the estate regions.

A sector-wise comparison of school dropouts prior to the COVID-19 outbreak reveals the estate sector to have the highest percentage of dropouts in all three levels of education – primary, secondary and collegiate. The percentage rises as the level of education advances from the primary to collegiate level. Approximately 4 percent of primary, 20 percent of secondary and 26 percent of collegiate students had dropped out of school in the estate sector. 

In contrast, the corresponding rates in urban and rural sectors are much lower, reflecting the disparity across sectors.

Worsened financial difficulties faced by the estate children after the pandemic are cited as the main reason for the increasing school drop-out level. The ongoing economic crisis in the country has added to their woes, as they are pushed to engage in economic activities to earn income, so that they can afford their basic needs, the IPS said.While providing the adult population of the estate sector with more income-generating avenues will help improve the situation, the study stated that facilitating the continuation of the school meal programme (free meal), by prioritising the highly deprived children in plantation communities, would be another possible solution to reduce child labour.

“It will help reduce school dropouts in the estate sector since many estate children, who struggle to afford a meal, are influenced to engage in economic activities to earn income, the IPS said.Furthermore, implementing special ‘catch-up programmes’ in estate regions for students who could not attend online classes during school closures would help recover the lost learning of these students and reduce the risk of them dropping out of school.While Sri Lanka is committed to attaining the goal of zero child labour by 2025, as set in the Sustainable Development Goals agenda, eliminating child labour would solve this issue of school dropouts to a certain extent. However, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, along with the ongoing economic crisis in the country, this goal of eliminating child labour by 2025 has become even more challenging. Evidence suggests that the number of children engaging in economic activities has increased significantly in these estate regions after the pandemic that led to prolonged school closures. 


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