Officially, it is compulsory and free school for 9 years for children aged 5 to 14 years in Sri Lanka. Almost all children attend the 5-year-old elementary school. The primary school is followed by a 3-year secondary school and a 5-year secondary school. The language of instruction is Sinhalese or Tamil, but more and more emphasis is placed on English teaching. In addition, there are religious schools and Buddhist temple schools at all levels (pirivenas). The country has 12 universities. According to UNESCO, approx. 8% of the adult population illiterate in 2002.
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Although the labor movement organized a general strike against the new economic policy, in the summer of 1980, 44,000 public servants were laid off. In 1981, however, the country received extensive financial assistance from the United States aimed at “creating stability in the region”. From the same explanation, North American warships began to be frequent guests in the port of Colombia. The US had lost its close ally Iran two years before, and therefore needed to build new allies in the area.
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In October 1982, the country’s first presidential election gave victory to the Jayewards. He received 52.5% of the vote – partly because of the support from the state apparatus and partly because of the internal split in the Freedom Party. In several regions, the elections were conducted while in exceptional condition.
Plans for the transformation of Sri Lanka into an “export center” in a manner similar to Hong Kong or Taiwan led to the creation of a free zone in Latunayabe where foreign capital flowed in.
Despite its declared alliance freedom, the government decided in 1982 that the United States Navy could use the Trincomalee naval station for refueling and repairs. The station is vital to the east-west traffic of the Indian Ocean.
From the beginning of 1983, the conflict between Singaporeans and Tamils worsened. In July/August, it reached a critical stage with hundreds of killed and wounded, and 100,000 affected civilians.
More than 40,000 Tamils from Sri Lanka emigrated to the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. President Jayewarden’s refusal to negotiate with the Tamil minority caused the Indian government to withdraw from the role of broker.
In 1984, the Jayewards began to approach Israel, whose government offered to assist in the repression of the Tamil minority. With the support of the US Embassy, Israel now established a diplomatic representation in Colombo. Following his visit to Tel Aviv in September 1984, Foreign Minister Douglas Liyanage was forced to resign following violent protests. In particular, it was the Muslim community in the country that had taken action.
The ethnic conflict worsened further in 1985, and with it foreign investment declined. At the same time, tourism – which was otherwise an important source of income for the country’s economy – was hit hard. The tourists stayed away.
Military operations in the north and east of the country – where 200,000 hectares of land is used for rice cultivation – affected the supply and prices of rice, forcing the government to import 150,000 tonnes of rice from China to maintain prices.
Through 1986 contacts and mediation efforts continued to bring peace between Tamils and Singaporeans. Among other things. a summit was held in Bangalore, India, attended by 7 Southeast Asian nations concerned about the civil war in Sri Lanka.
The main political opponent of the ruling party – the Freedom Party – wanted the parliamentary elections accelerated and the popular attitude towards the ethnic conflict emerged, but the president rejected the claim. In an effort to reduce internal opposition, President Jayewardene gave former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike her political rights she had been deprived of in 1980.
In late July 1987, Presidents Rajiv Gandhi and Junius Jayewardene signed an agreement in Colombo to give the Tamils in northern and eastern Sri Lanka extensive autonomy. The agreement envisaged the merger of the two provinces under a joint government, and recognition of Tamil as a national language.