Sri Lanka

 

In a country still recovering from civil war and a major tsunami, Room to Read Sri Lanka works closely with the government to implement our Literacy and Girls' Education Programs. Our work is highly sustainable, with local communities continuing the programs once we transition to others in need.

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved. Support Our Work

High Hurdles

Sri Lanka’s tumultuous history of colonization, violent war, devastating poverty and natural disasters has impoverished its ability to educate its children. The 2004 tsunami devastated the country’s infrastructure and its long civil war, which lasted until 2009, killed over 60,000 Sri Lankans.

Our Work in Sri Lanka

The tsunami of 2004 devastated Sri Lanka’s fragile infrastructure, further intensifying the suffering in impoverished and war-torn regions. In response, Room to Read decided to begin our expansion into Sri Lanka one year earlier than planned. We immediately went to work rebuilding schools in tsunami-affected areas and helping to create long-term infrastructure improvements, beginning in the Ampara District on the island’s eastern coast.

In 2006, we launched our Girls’ Education Program in the country to close the gender gap in various districts. In 2009, when the brutal civil war came to an end, we quickly took action and implemented our programs in the Mannar District in the Northern Peninsula, which had been devastated by the war. We have partnered with the Sri Lankan government to improve the infrastructure in the region. Room to Read has now worked in seven of the country’s nine provinces. We have had significant success in improving the quality and accessibility of education for hundreds of thousands of children.

Meet Yashoda - A Girls' Education Program Graduate
Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved. Support Our Work

Education Inequality

Sri Lanka offers free primary and secondary schooling, and adult literacy rates are among the highest in Asia. But a lack of quality plagues their system. Longstanding disparities in education exist between the more prosperous regions and the impoverished regions. More than 50,000 children between the ages 5 to 17 have never attended school, and 28 percent of youth are neither in school nor employed. Overall, quality issues plague the education system and have resulted in low completion rates, with less than 10 percent of adults having completed secondary school. 

Massive Resource and Teacher Shortages

A major detriment to educational quality is the shortage of teachers within the country, especially in conflict-affected areas. Of primary and secondary teachers, only an average of 60 percent have received the minimum teacher training required. Additionally, many schools either have no library or an inadequate library filled with old books that are not engaging for children. With 85 percent of the rural population living below the poverty line, purchasing quality reading materials is typically not an option. Yet the main cause of poverty among the bottom 40 percent of the population is the poor quality of education.

In many parts of the country, boys and girls are enrolled in school in equal numbers, and Sri Lankans are adopting more progressive attitudes toward gender equity in education. However, in several regions, girls still face discrimination and barriers to education. This is particularly true in the Tamil tea plantation area and the central highlands area. In these locations, girls often work long hours for low wages, which prevents them from attending school and produces a literacy gender gap.

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved. Support Our Work

Ministry of Education Collaboration Brings Results

Since we began operations in Sri Lanka, we have worked closely with the government to improve literacy education in primary schools. As a result, we were invited in 2011 to participate in a steering committee led by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Education. The committee prepared a policy and guidelines on the types of reading materials distributed to schools, enabling Room to Read to influence literacy education nationwide. This was the first time that an international nonprofit had been invited to sit on a Ministry of Education steering committee related to policy formation, and we were honored to be able to use our program expertise to benefit students across the country.

Room to Read is also a technical committee member for a new collaborative initiative in Sri Lanka to develop a national document for book developers and reviewers. The School Library Department of the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka published and launched “Guidelines to Understand and Review Children Literature,” around the country. Room to Read is the only external partner in this work and has been mentioned as a technical partner.

Room to Read Introduces New Financial Education Life Skills Clubs

In 2017, we designed new financial literacy materials to supplement our life skills curriculum in Sri Lanka. Aimed at increasing financial literacy and empowerment, this new curriculum is delivered to girls through financial education life skills (FELS) clubs. The materials were developed in partnership with Aflatoun International, the leading expert in international financial skills programs. Topics range from understanding needs versus wants, to creating a business plan. Building off of our Life Skills Education curricula, FELS focuses on financial empowerment, financial inclusion and financial literacy for girls. Year one of implementation built the foundational skills girls need to understand money management. In 2019, year two will build off of this foundation with hands-on learning activities and exposure visits.

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved. Join Our Team

Room to Read Sri Lanka
No: 38, Dr. E.A. Cooray Mawatha
Colombo 6 Colombo 0094, Sri Lanka 

Phone: +94-11-236 2832

Join the Conversation: Sri Lanka

Literacy Program

Take a look at the impact being made in Sri Lanka.

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.
Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

2 Million

Room to Read has distributed over 2,814,597 high-quality, local-language books since we began our work in Sri Lanka

2 Million

Room to Read has distributed over 2,814,597 high-quality, local-language books since we began our work in Sri Lanka

6,052

Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program has supported more than 6,000 girls in Sri Lanka since 2006.

6,052

Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program has supported more than 6,000 girls in Sri Lanka since 2006.

The Latest from Sri Lanka

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Meet Yashodha from Sri Lanka


November 11, 2019

Girls' Education, Sri Lanka

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Why This Sri Lankan Teacher & Student Love Our Literacy Program


November 04, 2019

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Inside Sri Lanka: Mothers Who Migrate


Umeshi Rajeendra, Room to Read Sri Lanka

| May 03, 2019

Girls' Education, Sri Lanka

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

5 Ways Room to Read is Improving the State of Education in Sri Lanka


Umeshi Rajeendra, Room to Read Sri Lanka

| November 01, 2018

Literacy, Sri Lanka

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Olympic medalist reflects on empowering and educating young girls in Sri Lanka


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In the News, Sri Lanka

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Going Beyond Books


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Literacy, Sri Lanka

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Students' Love for Books Leads to Surge in Home Libraries


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Literacy, Sri Lanka

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A Day in the Life of a Social Mobilizer


August 13, 2017

Girls' Education, Sri Lanka

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

A Supermom of Sri Lanka: In Her Own Words


Reported by Umeshi Rajeendra

| May 05, 2017

Girls' Education, Sri Lanka

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Thirumagal Beat the Odds to #BeBoldForChange


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Girls' Education, Sri Lanka

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Student Success: Looking Beyond Tertiary School


Umeshi Rajeendra

| February 21, 2017

Girls' Education, Sri Lanka

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy & girls' education programs at work in Sri Lanka. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Sri Lankan Girl Forges New Path into Top University


December 01, 2016

Girls' Education, Sri Lanka

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