Gayani Hurulle, Author at LIRNEasia


(Note: This was originally published in the Daily FT) The Director General of the Department of Samurdhi released a circular on 29 August stating that monthly cash transfers to senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and kidney patients must be administered through Samurdhi banks from September 2022. In practice, this will occur from October. This disbursement mechanism deviates significantly from that used earlier, where each of these schemes had different collection points. Samurdhi banks were used exclusively as distribution points for the Samurdhi monthly cash transfers. Senior citizens’ allowances, PWD benefits and kidney patients’ allowances were disbursed via post offices, State banks and divisional secretariats, respectively (Table 1).
Tariq Zaman, Gayani Hurulle, Riki Manarangi, Crystal Kewe, Isha Suri & Rodrigo Balbontin at ApRIGF 2022 Gayani Hurulle participates in panel on Connecting the Unconnected at APrIGF 2022 in Singapore
Gayani Hurulle at Advocata ReformNow Conference The fragmented social protection system in Sri Lanka has been in need of reform for many years. There is a need to reform many areas, including targeting and the delivery of benefits — areas we have, and continue to, stress the importance of. The specific reforms that we prioritise may differ in the short and long term. The current economic crisis (which has thrown millions into poverty) has highlighted the gaps in the system. In this light, ensuring that the cash transfers are adequate to meet the needs of individuals and all those who need assistance are covered by the programme are key.
Gayani Hurulle speaking on Social Safety Nets I was invited to speak on Social Safety Nets in Sri Lanka on ‘The People’s Platform’ a 45 minute live TV programme on NewsFirst. I drew on LIRNEasia’s research on the area to highlight problems in targeting the poor and the possibility of using bank accounts and mobile technology to deliver benefits to the poor.  
Slides presented at the Advocata Institute’s #ReformNow conference on 5 August 2022
Gayani Hurulle discussed LIRNEasia's research on social safety nets in Sri Lanka on an 'AdvoChat' organized by the Advocata Institute.
LIRNEasia Chair Rohan Samarajiva and I were invited to share our experiences at a UNESCAP capacity building workshop on Universal Service Fund modernization on 23 June 2022.  Government officials from over 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific attended the two-day programme. Other speakers at the session included Atsuko Okuda (Regional Director, ITU-D), Charles Pierre Marie Hurphy (Senior Digital Development Specialist, World Bank), and John Garrity (Chief of Party, USAID BEACON Activity). In our talk, we discussed (i) how assess the performance of USFs and (ii) how to design good USFs. See our slides here.
I recently participated in a panel discussion on “Health Communication: Risk & Strategies during COVID-19” at the International Communications Association (ICA) Conference (South Asia Regional Hub) on 29 May 2022. This session was also streamed at the main ICA Conference in Paris. The session was chaired by Manjula Venkataraghavan of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Other panelists included Hezekiel Deamini of UNESCO, and Communications Practitioner, V. V.
LIRNEasia CEO Helani Galapaya and Chair Rohan Samarajiva participated in an online webinar on Social Safety Nets on 8 May 2022. Former Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, A. R. Deshapriya was also on this panel organised by the National Movement of Social Justice, and moderated by Harindra B. Dissanayake.
Slides presented at the Education Forum Policy Dialogue (#20) on Education Post-Pandemic on Saturday, 26 March 2022
LIRNEasia recently participated at Education Forum Sri Lanka’s Policy Dialogue on Education Post-Pandemic (#20) held on Saturday, 26 March 2022. I drew on our 2021 nationally-representative survey to discuss students’ access to technology and  education during early pandemic-induced school closures. We found that only 63% of students enrolled in primary and secondary education had access to online education in Sri Lanka. Online education could range from students participating online real time classes through applications such as Zoom, Google Meet or Teams, or getting notes/activities from WhatsApp groups. Impact of exams on access Our survey showed that students due to sit for Advanced Level and Scholarship examinations were most likely to have studied online.
Access to education became a widespread concern with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. And rightly so. A survey of Indians that we at LIRNEasia and ICRIER conducted between March and September 2021  shows that only 20% of school-aged children (i.e. those between the ages of 5-18) who were enrolled in the formal education system received remote education during pandemic-induced school closures.
Successful reform of telecom (or information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure) sectors requires ex-ante, sector-specific regulation under present market and technological conditions. Theories and concepts relevant to regulatory agency design and the practice are not nation-specific.
LIRNEasia Chair, Rohan Samarajiva and I  attended the first drafting group meeting for developing the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway Action Plan 2022-2026 on 25 May. The meeting was convened by UNESCAP, and chaired by Mohamed Shareef, Maldives' newly appointed State Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology. 
Responding to the COVID-19 crisis has been difficult for many. Its volatile and uncertain nature has made planning even more challenging. It is, therefore, essential that efforts are made to simplify citizens’ planning and decision-making processes to the extent possible. Our research indicates that not all citizens were adequately prepared for sudden a lockdown, despite previous experiences. Disseminating better information could help, at least to an extent.
Education was hard hit due to the COVID-19 crisis. A year into the crisis, some educators, students and caregivers are still grappling to find ways to provide continuity in education while minimising COVID-19 outbreaks. Online learning was seemingly a silver bullet. The adoption of digital technologies for educational purposes increased significantly as a result. However, the experiences of all students were heterogeneous, differing between countries and socio-economic groups.