The education system, which has Buddhist traditions, is
characterized by the fact that Sri Lanka is a country with
multiple races, cultures and languages. Sinhalese and Tamil
are the two languages of instruction, with English as the
second language. In 1945, it was decided that all tuition
from preschool to university would be free of charge.
Education is in great demand and is seen as a key to social
success. The great majority of schools are state, but a
smaller number of so-called pirivenas are linked to
Buddhist temples. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Sri Lanka.
The school has four stages: primary school (grades 1-5),
lower secondary school (6-8), higher secondary school (9-11)
and college (12-13). Participation in primary school
teaching has been almost 100 percent since the 1980s. About
70% go to secondary school, and a small proportion read on
at one of the 15 universities (2011). Significant dropout
occurs during the various stages. Attempts have been made
since the 1980s to reform the system, improve quality and
remove the most prominent features of British colonial
times. In 2008, 9% of the population was illiterate.
In early 2002, after 12 years, the road connecting Jaffna
to the rest of Sri Lanka was reopened and flights to the
Jaffna Peninsula were resumed.
In September, Wickremasinghe lifted the ban on LTTE,
which had been in effect since 1998. This created the
opportunity to meet as equals at the negotiating table. On
September 16, negotiations started in Thailand, and in
December the dealers in Oslo agreed on the establishment of
a federal system within the framework of a united Sri Lanka.
In May 2003, the LTTE suspended its participation in the
negotiations, citing a lack of interest from the government.
But at the same time, the movement declared itself willing
to resume negotiations and submitted a proposal for a
transitional autonomy administration. It was a proposal that
came under sharp criticism from Kumaratunga's Freedom
Alliance - the opposition in parliament.
In the same month, over 200 died and 4,000 became
homeless as a result of extensive flooding.
On November 4, Kumaratunga dismissed the Defense,
Interior and Information Ministers, ordered the military in
emergency preparedness, suspended parliament and declared
the country in a state of emergency. Her rationale was that
Wickremesinghe had "jeopardized the security, stability and
territorial integrity of the country" as a result of his
concessions to the rebels. She also criticized the
international group overseeing the peace process and
demanded its chairman, a Norwegian general, be expelled. The
suspension of parliament was lifted two weeks later, but
peace talks with the Tamils were interrupted.
The dispute between Kumaratunga and Wickremesinghe over
who should hold the important post of defense minister
continued until the president in February 2004 dissolved the
parliament. In April, parliamentary elections were held for
the third time in less than four years. Kumaratunga got 105
of the 225 seats but did not achieve absolute majority.
Buddhist lawyer Mahinda Rajapakse was appointed prime
The situation took a surprising turn when the Freedom
Alliance in May granted its recognition of the LTTE, and
tacitly accepted them as the sole representative of the
Tamil minority. In June, peace talks resumed.
In December 2004, a tsunami hit Southeast Asia and Sri
Lanka was one of the hardest hit. About 35,000 were killed
by the tidal wave, 5,000 disappeared and 1 million were
killed. was made homeless. A large area on the east coast
from Jaffna in the north to the popular beaches in the south
was razed. Muttur and Trincomalee districts were hit by
tidal waves of up to 6 meters. The government launched a $
3.5 billion reconstruction program US $ but the conflict
with the Tamils over the administration of the program in
their areas delayed it sharply. It was not until June 2005
that an agreement was reached, but this triggered a
political tsunami when the Marxist Popular Liberation Front
and the Alliance for National Unity broke out of the
government. They claimed that there was a surrender of
sovereignty to the Tamil tigers, called for mass protests
and threatened to take legal action.
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadrigamar was assassinated in
his home in August 2005 and the government subsequently
declared the country in a state of emergency. Kumaratunga
stated that the assassination had political motives but
failed to place the blame directly on the Tamil Tigers.
In November 2005, Mahinda Rajapakse was elected president
in an election campaign that was characterized by quite a
few deaths compared to previous campaigns. The election
themes were first and foremost: the economy, the peace
process and the post-tsunami reconstruction. The Tamil
people followed the invitation of the LTTE and refrained
from participating in "elections that do not serve the
interests of the Tamils".