Related Rule
Sri Lanka
Practice Relating to Rule 135. Children
Section B. Education
In 1994, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Sri Lanka stated, with respect to child victims of armed conflict and refugees: “There are several urgent needs that have to be met [including] … education for children of school age”. 
Sri Lanka, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.13, 5 May 1994, § 146.
In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Sri Lanka stated:
19. The Government is encouraged that the TMVP [Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal] facilitated the release in April 2008 of 39 children held by the paramilitary group known as the Karuna faction. These children now have access to … vocational training … which the Government working in close cooperation with international partners – notably UNICEF – stands ready to provide. …
24. In April 2007, the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Empowerment established a Task Force in relation to children affected by the armed conflict. It focused on issues raised in United Nations Security Council resolution 1612 and the Security Council Committee set up under it. Subject areas of focus in the Task Force include conformity of Sri Lankan legislation with the [1989] Convention [on the Rights of the Child] to provide protection for children affected by the armed conflict, … [and] the promotion of compulsory education …
55. The Women and Children’s Division of the Department of Labour is the focal point for implementing ILO-IPEC [International Labour Organization-International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour] [a]ctivities in Sri Lanka. The IPEC activities are monitored by a Steering Committee of Stakeholders chaired by the Secretary to the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower.
56. Among other things, with regard to Children in armed conflict, the IPEC programme implements a number of activities in the districts of Amparai, Mullaitivu, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Trincomalee, and Vavuniya which are in the North and the East of Sri Lanka. The specific IPEC responses are delivered within two inter-UN agency projects: The Action Plan for Children affected by War and the project on Repatriation, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (4Rs) in North East of Sri Lanka. The target group of beneficiaries are vulnerable children, including child soldiers from female-headed households and internally displaced families and adult family members. In both projects, IPEC has taken the lead in the area of vocational skills training. The development objective of IPEC’s North-East programme is to contribute to the withdrawal of child labour, specifically child soldiers from the worst forms of child labour through reintegration training programmes, and the prevention of entry of children into child labour through employment linked training programmes, particularly self-employment, for the target group and contributed to increasing the quality and capacity of training provides. Training has been undertaken in [a] variety of ways: formal centre-based training, informal rural skills training at the community level, mobile training, placement in apprenticeships and on-the-job-training. Simultaneously, children were also exposed to life skills training, provided with vocational and career guidance, and business start[-]up knowledge to enable them to explore their potential for self-employment and entrepreneurial business opportunities. The IPEC has also assisted more than 20 training providing organizations to upgrade their technical capacities and training equipment to deliver quality programs. …
57. Sri Lanka’s abiding commitment to the welfare of children irrespective of gender, ethnicity, caste and religion is borne out by its welfare programmes focussed on children, which includes the provision of … education island-wide. These welfare programmes, … have benefited children without discrimination and led to … high levels of literacy. However, these main social benefits are seriously eroded when children are used in armed conflict and suffer death, maiming, abuse and exploitation.
58. The Government is firmly committed to ensure that all children [are] free to learn, study …
96. Guidelines on Protective care, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Child Combatants have been developed in collaboration with the office of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation.
97. The Guidelines include the following:
(f) To provide education and vocational training at the interim protective centre based on the individual capacities of the children. This will be planned in a manner in which it will be meaningful to the children, with the objective of a livelihood relevant to their own communities;
(g) To respond effectively to the psychosocial needs of the children. These can commence with the introduction of diverse activities and interventions such as … education …
(i) Plan and develop community based interventions which take into account family realities of such children such as … education, [and] skill development …
113. However, the Government from the inception of the conflict has provided free primary, secondary and tertiary education to children in conflict affected areas. This includes free text books and school uniforms. The salaries for teachers, school supplies and recurrent costs to run the schools are paid by the Government. This includes 266,000 pupils and 11,000 teachers in the Northern Province and 377,000 pupils and 16,000 teachers in the Eastern Province.
114. … [T]he President, by regulation dated 12th September 2006, appointed the Commissioner-General of Rehabilitation (CGR) who is entrusted with specific responsibilities in relation to all “surrendees” of the conflict, including children.
115. …
(c) The CGR is entrusted … to provide such surrendee with appropriate vocational, technical or other training. …
118. Once the surrendees are accommodated at the permanent [rehabilitation] centre at Ambepussa, … the Government has developed a programme which includes skills development, vocational training, training in aesthetics, language education and sports. … All surrendees will be provided with such services as are necessary for their physical and mental wellbeing. … This interim protective care will include … education, … [and] vocational training … The NCPA [National Child Protection Agency] will collaborate with the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation on many of these aspects including the Ministries of Vocational Training, Child Development and Women’s Empowerment as well as UNICEF.
122. An interim care protective environment will be established and created for those children who need to remain. This will take the form of a child friendly education institution and be staffed by specially trained persons. Stigmatization is sought to be prevented by laying emphasis on education. …
Income generation and education programmes
134. All children in Sri Lanka including children vulnerable to recruitment living in the North and East have access to free primary, secondary and tertiary education. Education could be regarded as a preventive tool against child recruitment. At present, there are 1,848 functioning Government schools in the North and East, out of which 1,545 schools are Tamil medium schools. However the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] has in the past and continues even at present to try to recruit children in schools through indoctrination and the use of propaganda material. This is particularly prevalent in “uncleared” areas in North where the LTTE is still active.
135. A total of 726,591 children attend school in the North and the East which is 19.12 per cent of the Island’s school population. The Government and Ministry of Education allocate resources from the Treasury to cover all teacher salaries, including salaries of the Ministry staff of the North and East and provide free school uniform materials and textbooks. Since there are no private schools in Kilinochchi, Mannar and Vavuniya in the Northern district and Ampara and Trincomalee in the East, all the primary and secondary education is provided free by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry also provides free tertiary education free through universities in Jaffna and Batticaloa.
Financial assistance
137. The Government seeks financial support … so that all children are able to attend school and therefore not be recruited. 
Sri Lanka, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 February 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/LKA/1, submitted 16 June 2008, §§ 19, 24, 55–58, 96, 97(f),(g) and (i), 113–114, 115(c), 118, 122, 134–135 and 137.
[footnotes in original omitted]
In 2008, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in the section on children affected by armed conflict, Sri Lanka stated:
336. The Action Plan for Children Affected by War was a multi-sectoral programme drawn up in 2003 during the period following the Ceasefire Agreement. … The Action Plan included provision for … education. …
343. The Government has established a dedicated centre for “child surrendees”, the Ambepussa Rehabilitation Centre. Around 90 children have been through the centre, with 25 currently in residence. The CGR has developed a policy framework for the rehabilitation of “child surrendees” in collaboration with the NCPA [National Child Protection Authority]. Accordingly they are provided with vocational training, language and literacy skills …
345. The Government is finalizing an amendment to Emergency Regulations to deal with the situation of child surrendees – Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers) Regulation No. 1 of 2005. The amendment will provide for the establishment of Protective Child Accommodation Centres and Protective Child Rehabilitation Centres, the latter to extend … vocational training and other services. …
348. As a follow up to Security-Council resolution 1612 and the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on children affected by the conflict, a task force meets regularly under the Secretary [of the] Ministry of Child [D]evelopment to discuss and follow up outstanding issues, particularly in relation to action needed. These include issues such as … access to education.
352. The Government has taken measures to ensure that children affected by conflict are not denied their right to education throughout the entire period of the conflict. Non-formal and “catch up” education programmes have also been conducted. Infrastructure improvements include the constructing of school buildings, toilets and water supply facilities particularly in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. This also included the reactivation of School Attendance Committees. Teachers have been trained in psychosocial counseling.
354. A comprehensive assessment of the education sector needs in the conflict-affected areas was done in 2003. …
355. The Sri Lankan Government adopted several measures to provide extra educational support for displaced children. Catch Up Education (CUE) was one such initiative. Under the Six-Year Provincial Primary Education Plan (1999–2004) of the Northern and Eastern Province (as it then was) teachers were trained in a short orientation programme in CUE. … This programme was expanded and the Vanni Education Rehabilitation Project (VERP) supported by German Government Assistance (GTZ) was launched in 2002.
357. Learning from past experience in CUE, education authorities have with UNICEF support created a new consolidated syllabus specially designed for children who have been out of regular school for up to six months. … Aware of the need for sensitivity to the emotional impact of the conflict on children, their families and teachers, the new curriculum contains a strong psychosocial component.
358. The Human Rights Commission’s National Protection and Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons (NPDS/IDP project) have recently completed a study on the Right to Education of IDPs.
359. The study assesses the situation in six conflict-affected districts, with about 361,060 displaced persons of whom nearly 30 per cent are school-age children, representing 2 per cent of the total student population of the country. The study identifies several problems relating to the education at preschool, primary and secondary levels, and tertiary and higher education.
360. It signals the need for better management of the preschool system by the Provincial Councils and more financial and other resources for the management and supervision of preschools. In primary and secondary education issues highlighted are temporary closure of schools and schools being used as IDP accommodation; high dropout rate due to financial constraints; and child labour and child military recruitment.
361. The study revealed that a number of schools were temporarily closed and some others were occupied by displaced persons, interrupting the education of thousands of children and causing the relocation of hundreds of teachers from their original schools. With the Government taking control of the East measures were quickly put in place with the assistance of INGOs [international NGOs] to bring normalcy to the lives of the displaced. In several affected administrative Divisions children are back in schools with furniture, books and uniforms provided by the Ministry of Education.
362. Where children are affected by the disruption to infrastructure facilities such as water and electricity, the Ministry of Resettlement is putting in place measures to restore these facilities under the Emergency Assistance Programme to the Resettled IDPs in Batticaloa.
363. There are indications that in areas of severe teacher shortage, schools may be resorting to the use of volunteers, at a time when the national policy of the government is to put a stop to the use of untrained teachers. In a bid to address some of these issues, the Eastern Province Education Department is hoping to obtain UNICEF assistance to enhance the quality of education in the East with targeted teacher training programmes including psychosocial interventions for displaced teachers. In Trincomalee the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is supporting a project to Improve School Management to Enhance Quality of Education with Special Reference to Science and Mathematics (ISMEQUE). In more Northern areas the security situation makes it harder to maintain normalcy in schooling. Security concerns particularly regarding travel to and from school have resulted in some children dropping out of school.
364. As the absence of birth certificates was identified as a major obstacle to displaced children gaining admission to schools on relocation, the National Policy on Admissions to Schools was revised to remedy this situation. The policy makes special provision for admission to schools after displacement, by stating that it is not necessary to have a birth certificate for school entry. The school should accept a letter from the village head (the lowest administrative unit in the country) and a certification by the IDP camp that the child has been affected by a disaster, natural or man-made. An affidavit can be submitted to confirm the date of birth.
365. A Needs Assessment of the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and World Food Programme (WFP) in 2003 showed 50,000 school aged children as out of school in the North and East, with a 15 per cent dropout rate. Measures have been taken by both government and NGOs to address this situation. Under the WFP’s Food for Education concept which recognizes poverty and lowering of socio-economic status of displaced people as a main cause of school drop-out, about 22,000 children from Grades 1–9 get midday meals.
366. The Mid-Day Meal Programme under the Government’s vision document Mahinda Chintana also provides mid-day meals to selected schools. Government officials regularly visit these schools to ensure implementation and reduce further dropouts. 
Sri Lanka, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 20 January 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/LKA/3-4, submitted 24 October 2008, §§ 336, 343, 345, 348, 352, 354–355 and 357–366.
In 2009, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, Sri Lanka stated:
End of war and rehabilitation of former child soldiers
70. His Excellency the President, by Regulation dated 12 September 2006, appointed a Commissioner General of Rehabilitation (CGR) who is entrusted with specific responsibilities in relation to all “surrendees” of the ongoing conflict which include adults and children. The CGR now takes the lead in the rehabilitation of “Child Surrendees” and functions under the President’s Office.
72. The CGR is entrusted with the task of providing surrendees with [inter alia] … appropriate vocational, technical or other training. There are at present three such centres. The centre in Ambepussa is for children and women. …
73. The CGR centre at Ambepussa receives surrendees under the age of eighteen years and women. This Centre has been set up by the Government exclusively to care for and reintegrate children leaving armed groups. This rehabilitation process involves … special school education classes and vocational training. …
75. Surrendees have a choice of the following vocational training courses that are provided at the centre, those who had dropped out of school or illiterate are provided with non-formal education. On the completion of such training surrendees are awarded certificates which would help them to obtain employment. Plans are also underway to impart language training …
78. New regulations have been framed under section 5 of the Public Security Ordinance by the President in order to introduce “Child Friendly” procedures and processes related to the surrender and release of children recruited as combatants.
79. Under these regulations the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation in consultation with the District Secretary of any district, the relevant Provincial Commissioner of Probation of Child Care Services and the Chairman, National Child Protection Authority identifies suitable locations for the establishment of the following:
(b) Protective Child Rehabilitation Centres for the purpose of providing … vocational and other training for the facilitation of the process of reintegration of such child into his family, community and into society.
88. The officer in charge of a Protective Child [soldier] Accommodation Centre or protective child [soldier] rehabilitation centre in which such child is placed shall:
(f) Provide the child with education or appropriate vocational, technical and other training with a view to equipping him to pursue a career of his choice.
90. The Regulation … provides access to education and vocational training based on their individual needs and capacities. …
94. Several other measures [were] taken by the Government in association with UNICEF and the NGO Community concerning inter alia, psychosocial support and assistance for children affected by armed conflict and towards ensuring their right to education …
98. As a reflection of the government’s commitment at the highest executive level to combat child recruitment, His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched on 26th February 2009 the joint Government of Sri Lanka and UNICEF Public Awareness Campaign on Child Recruitment …
99. “Bring back the Child” is a multimedia campaign that calls on those who recruit children to stop, and for those children currently in their ranks to be released, so that they can return to their families and have access to services, including … education and vocational training. 
Sri Lanka, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, 23 September 2010, UN Doc. CAT/C/LKA/3-4, submitted 17 August 2009, §§ 70, 72–73, 75, 78, 79(b), 88(f), 90, 94 and 98–99.