Supporting The Public Sector of Sri Lanka



Public spending on education was two per cent of GDP in 2011. There are nine years of compulsory education starting at the age of five. Primary school comprises five years and secondary eight. Some 97 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2010).

The Sri Lankan education system falls under the jurisdiction of the central government and the provincial councils. Education is government-funded and offered free of charge, including at tertiary level. There are several private schools. The Sri Lankan Ministry of Education is charged with developing and implementing education policy at the national level. Each of the country’s nine provinces also has a Ministry of Education, headed by a Minister of Provincial Education.

The University Grants Commission recognises 15 public universities and 17 higher education institutes, and there are four other public universities that come under other departments of government (2013). Leading universities include the University of Colombo and the University of Kelaniya. The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 1.80:1 (2011). Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 98 per cent (2010).



Public spending on health was two per cent of GDP in 2010. Infant mortality was 11 per 1,000 live births in 2011 (83 in 1960). More than 90 per cent of children are born in hospital. Family planning is common, with about 68 per cent of married women using contraception. Polio has been eradicated, but malaria remains a problem.

Both Western and Ayurvedic (traditional) medicine are practised, though most doctors use Western medicine. A free health service is available, with hospitals and clinics countrywide, supplemented by several private hospitals and clinics in Colombo. Sri Lanka is renowned for its efficient and low cost private health care sector. Most private hospitals are based in Colombo, with prominent examples including Lanka Hospitals, Asiri Group of Hospitals and Nawaloka Hospitals.

There are numerous pharmaceutical companies operating in Sri Lanka producing a range of pharmaceutical products for both the domestic and international market.

Public–private partnerships have existed in the health sector to a certain extent for many years. A shift in government policy during the 1970s allowed government medical practitioners to practice privately outside their official working hours. In recent years, the government has begun exploring the potential for public–private partnerships to play a larger role in the health sector.



There are 97,290 km of roads, 81 per cent of which are paved. National roads carry more than 70 per cent of Sri Lanka’s traffic and are vital for the movement of goods and people.

Rail: There are 1,463 km of railway, with rail links between the major towns. The Sri Lanka Railway Department of the Sri Lanka Government owns the railway and is its primary operator. Rajadhani Express and Expo-rail are two privately run inter-city trains services.

Ports: The international ports are at Colombo, Galle, Talaimannar and Trincomalee. The Port of Colombo is the largest, supporting the country’s position as a regional trading hub. Several private ferry companies run between Sri Lanka and India.

Airports: The main international airports are Bandaranaike International Airport and Ratmalana Airport located in Colombo, and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport located in

Hambantota. Smaller domestic airports are located throughout the country. SriLankan Airlines is the flag carrier of Sri Lanka. A Mihin Lanka is another local airline, specialising in low fares and wholly-owned by the Sri Lankan Government.