Sri Lanka education currently falls under the control of both the Central Government and the Provincial Councils, with some responsibilities lying with the Central Government and the Provincial Council having autonomy for others. Total of 10194 schools are registered under these two categories with the student population of 4.1 Million and 241,018 teachers.
The Ministry of Education is implementing a national program called “The Nearest School is the Best School” (NSBS) as a flagship program of the Ministry’s medium term strategic development plan from 2016 to 2020 with the aim of achieving the objectives of the fivefold education policy statement of the government under the theme of ensuring equity in education. The overall budget of the programme is 64.95 Billion.
The primary focus of establishing Project Management Unit (PMU) of the Ministry of Education is to ensure the infrastructure facilities for the schools. However, over the period, the Ministry of Education has given the additional responsibilities to the PMU such as developing infrastructure facilities National Colleges of Education, Teachers Training Colleges, refurbishment of National library building, renovation of Isurupaya building, Pirivena school development and establishment of smart classrooms to the PMU.
The overall goal
Develop a system of schools intended to create an aesthetically minded, creative and goodhearted child who is imbued with qualities, characteristics, skills, knowledge, attitudes and abilities for the purpose of uplifting education qualitatively and quantitatively.
NSBS Expected Results
- Identified schools’ infrastructure facilities are developed
- Produce a total personality capable of winning the world, which has become a global village with the advance of technological skills.
- Strengthen the school management while improving effectiveness of the rural schools.
- Produce a generation of virtuous wise students with a good personality that has the capability to contribute towards achieving the development targets of the country.
- The number of students attracted to urban popular schools is minimized.
- Ensure equal opportunities for all children in education regardless of religion, language and ethnicity.
Selection of NSBS Project Schools
Criteria for Selection of Schools for “The Nearest School is the Best School” Programme
- Existence of popular schools with a high public demand in the vicinity of the school to be selected.
- Geographical location of the school.
- Availability of an adequate amount of land belonging to the school, for physical expansion.
- Projections in relation to the student flow.
- Having the potential for educational development with an optimum number of students (2000 – 3000)
- Effect of other regional development plans.
- Socio-economic background.
- Transport patterns. It is proposed that 1 or 2 schools from each Divisional Secretary’s Division are selected on the basis of the above criteria. (The number of schools is subject to change under special circumstances.)
Methodology adopted for the Selection of Schools for “The Nearest School is the Best School” Programme.
- Awareness programme for Provincial Directors of Education and Zonal Directors of Education held at the Ministry of Education.
- Selection of 1 or 2 schools from every Divisional Secretary’s Division on the basis of a needs analysis and a school mapping exercise, conducted jointly by Provincial Directors of Education, Zonal Directors of Education, and Planning Officers (Deputy/Assistant Directors of Education (Planning) at Zonal and Provincial levels.
- Reviewed the selections made in above Step II by Provincial Chief Ministers, Secretaries of the Provincial Ministries of Education and Provincial Directors of Education.
- Reviewed of the list of selected schools provincial-wise by a team of officers from the Ministry of Education including the Secretary and Additional Secretaries, Provincial/Zonal Directors of Education, Provincial/Zonal Planning Officers (Deputy/Assistant Directors of Education (Planning) of the relevant Province.
- Submission of the list of schools to the Education Advisory Committee of the parliament for approval.
The following categories of schools were selected for the programme
- Schools with classes from Grade 1 to Grade 13.
- Schools with classes from Grade 6 to Grade 13.
- Primary Schools
- New schools (Either Primary schools or schools with classes from Grade 1 to Grade 13).