Developing Government Policies for Distance Education: Lessons Learnt from Two Sri Lankan Case Studies

  • Liyanagunawardena T
  • Adams A
  • Rassool N
 et al. 
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Abstract

Education, especially higher education, is considered vital for maintaining national and individual competitiveness in the global knowledge economy. Following the introduction of its "Free Education Policy" as early as 1947, Sri Lanka is now the best performer in basic education in the South Asian region, with a remarkable record in terms of high literacy rates and the achievement of universal primary education. However, access to tertiary education is a bottleneck, due to an acute shortage of university places. In an attempt to address this problem, the government of Sri Lanka has invested heavily in information and communications technologies (ICTs) for distance education. Although this has resulted in some improvement, the authors of this article identify several barriers which are still impeding successful participation for the majority of Sri Lankans wanting to study at tertiary level. These impediments include the lack of infrastructure/resources, low English language proficiency, weak digital literacy, poor quality of materials and insufficient provision of student support. In the hope that future implementations of ICT-enabled education programmes can avoid repeating the mistakes identified by their research in this Sri Lankan case, the authors conclude their paper with a list of suggested policy options.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Educational Policy; Distance Education; Foreign Co
  • Sri Lanka

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Authors

  • Tharindu Rekha Liyanagunawardena

  • Andrew A Adams

  • Naz Rassool

  • Shirley A Williams

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