Educational System in Sri Lanka

The one tip that you hear expats living in Sri Lanka repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Sri Lanka. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Sri Lanka is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Sri Lanka.
|-Educational System in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” is not only famous for its natural beauty but also for its high literacy rate, which is the highest in South Asia. The country’s educational system is well-structured and comprehensive, providing quality education from primary to tertiary levels. This guide aims to provide expats with a comprehensive understanding of the educational system in Sri Lanka, including the main stages of education, enrollment procedures, language requirements, public and private schooling options, and alternative education methods such as homeschooling and online schooling.

What are the main stages of education in Sri Lanka?

The Sri Lankan education system is divided into five main stages: primary education, junior secondary education, senior secondary education, collegiate level, and tertiary level. Each stage focuses on different aspects of a child’s development and learning, ensuring a well-rounded education.

Primary Education

Primary education in Sri Lanka, also known as “Prathamika Shiksha,” caters to children aged 5 to 10. This stage focuses on basic literacy and numeracy skills, along with the introduction of subjects like science, social studies, and the arts. The medium of instruction is usually in Sinhala, Tamil, or English.

Junior Secondary Education

Junior secondary education, for children aged 11 to 14, builds on the foundation laid in primary school. Students study a broad range of subjects, including mathematics, science, social studies, and languages. At the end of this stage, students sit for the Junior Secondary Certificate Examination.

Senior Secondary Education

Senior secondary education caters to students aged 15 to 16. This stage prepares students for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level examination, which is crucial for further education and career opportunities.

Collegiate Level

The collegiate level is for students aged 17 to 18, who have passed the GCE Ordinary Level. Students specialize in chosen subject streams and prepare for the GCE Advanced Level examination, which determines university admission.

Tertiary Level

Tertiary education in Sri Lanka includes undergraduate and postgraduate studies in universities, technical colleges, and vocational training institutes. Admission is based on GCE Advanced Level results and specific course requirements.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Expats can enroll their children in Sri Lankan schools by submitting an application to the desired school, along with necessary documents such as birth certificate, passport, visa, and previous school records. Some schools may require an entrance exam or an interview.

Can children still learning Sinhala or Tamil enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning Sinhala or Tamil can enroll in public schools. However, they may face language barriers as the medium of instruction in most public schools is Sinhala or Tamil. Some schools offer English-medium instruction or additional language support for non-native speakers.

Are there public bilingual schools?

Yes, there are public bilingual schools in Sri Lanka that offer instruction in both Sinhala and English or Tamil and English. Admission to these schools is competitive and may require entrance exams.

What types of private schools are common in Sri Lanka?

Private schools in Sri Lanka include international schools, which follow foreign curricula like the International Baccalaureate or Cambridge curriculum, and private national schools, which follow the national curriculum but offer better facilities and smaller class sizes. There are also religious schools, such as Catholic schools, and bilingual schools.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Expats in Sri Lanka typically prefer private or international schools for their children due to the language of instruction, international recognition of the curriculum, and the diverse cultural environment.

How expensive are Private schools in Sri Lanka?

Private school fees in Sri Lanka can vary widely, depending on the school and the curriculum. International schools are generally more expensive, with annual fees ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 USD.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Sri Lanka?

While homeschooling is not common in Sri Lanka, it is not explicitly prohibited. However, it’s important to ensure that the child’s education meets the standards required for their age and grade level.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Sri Lanka?

Yes, children can attend online schools while living in Sri Lanka. This can be a good option for expats who are in the country for a short period or prefer a curriculum from their home country. However, it’s important to ensure that the online school is accredited and recognized for further education or career prospects.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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