Awareness on the plight of school dropouts | Sunday Observer

Awareness on the plight of school dropouts

21 November, 2021

Atlas, children’s stationer, recently hosted a virtual panel discussion to bring awareness on the plight of over 22,000 underprivileged children in Sri Lanka who drop out of school every year due to the loss of parents and economic difficulties.

This number recorded by the Department of Census and Statistics is projected to have been further exacerbated by the conditions brought in by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a negative impact on the children’s skills and economic prospects for the rest of their lives. The discussion was supported by the Atlas Sip Savi Scholarship Program which was initiated in collaboration with the Department of Probation and Childcare Services, to provide financial assistance for children in need to continue their education until they reach their key educational milestone – the Ordinary Level examination.

The Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Probation and Childcare Services, State Ministry of Women and Child Development, Pre School and Primary Education, School Infrastructure and School Services, Sandareka Liyanage, said, “Some children from economically challenged households feel they can make a better contribution to their home by working, while others are directed to do so by their parents,”she said, adding that sometimes older children remain home to care for younger siblings.

“It is a basic right of a child to receive an education. We must do everything we can to ensure it. I appreciate the efforts of private companies such as Atlas that have offered scholarships for students with the intention of ensuring that they stay in school until their Ordinary Level examination. Keeping children in school protects them from being misled and taking up inappropriate and illegal means of earning and for this reason and many others, it will have a massive positive impact on their entire life,” Liyanage said.

Additional Director, Southern Province Education Department and Principal of Southlands College, Galle, Shanthi Seneviratne said, “Education is the backbone of the country. Children drop out of school mainly due to financial issues, or social situations where the mother leaves the country, or even due to the ignorance of parents on the importance of education.” “Such children join the workforce. It becomes very difficult to convince them to return to school,” Seneviratne said, adding that the Department of Education has programs to tackle the issue.