In the Media

Science writer Nalaka Gunawardene shares his insights following a forum held in mid-December 2021.
A new survey shows that 85% of enrolled school-aged children had some form of education services during school closures between March and July 2020. While some received educational services through multiple means, 54% of students received information, instructions, notes, or assignments sent to smartphone, tab, or computer, 50% had live lessons delivered over Zoom and other applications (potentially alongside other methods).
A recent national survey conducted by LIRNEasia, a regional policy think tank, showed that 44% of Sri Lanka’s population aged 15 and above were internet users in 2021. Internet use was lower amongst the rural, elderly, less educated and poorer groups.
"Data protection is considered an esoteric subject, but it can have powerful effects in the emerging digital economy. Depending on the success of digitalisation efforts, pretty much every organization may fall within the scope of data protection regulation. Few developing countries have enacted data protection legislation. There may be lessons to be drawn from the Sri Lankan effort."
“Sri Lanka has wellcrafted laws but rarely are they implemented satisfactorily. If the regulator is underresourced, little more than ticking the boxes so that Sri Lanka will pass the EU’s adequacy test is likely to be achieved, and even that is uncertain. The best law is not one that is optimal in a technical sense, but one which is most appropriate for the local conditions”
A recent survey by policy think tanks LIRNEasia and ICRIER has shown that Maharashtra was able to ensure continuity in formal education for 38% of its school-going (enrolled) children during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The state compares well against the India national average, as well as that of NCT Delhi, whose performance stood at 20% and 25% respectively. It is also noteworthy that only 6% of households had at least one child dropping out of education, as opposed to the national average of 25%.
A recent survey of households in Tamil Nadu has shown that large numbers of school-aged children did not have continuity in their formal education during the COVID-19 school closures. A small number (10%) even dropped out.
A survey of Tamil Nadu shows that 23% of internet users that came online in 2020 did so due to a need brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey shows that 5.7 million people (aged 15 or above) came online in 2020, and a further 4 million in 2021, bringing the total number of internet users in Tamil Nadu up to 32 million people, or 53% of the 15+ population.
A recent survey showed that only 25% of enrolled school-aged children accessed education during school closures in Delhi, despite high levels of internet connectivity. The 2021 survey, conducted by policy think tanks LIRNEasia and ICRIER, showed that 84% of households in NCT Delhi have an internet connection: 22 percentage points higher than the national average. Although the survey also shows that the high level of household connectivity in Delhi helped it to better adapt in certain aspects during the COVID-19-induced lockdowns, it did not translate to gains in education.
A recent national survey showed that only 10% of Indians aged 15 and above who were employed during what they considered the most severe lockdown worked from home. 68% of respondents considered the Janata curfew and subsequent nationwide lockdown between March and May 2020 to be the most severe lockdown.
A recent national survey showed that only 20% of school-aged children who were enrolled in the formal education system received remote education during COVID-19 induced school closures. School aged children were considered those between the ages of 5 and 18.
A recent national survey showed that Internet use had more than doubled in the past four years, and that COVID-related shutdowns contributed significantly to the increased demand for connectivity. Among the aged 15-65 population, 49% said they had used the Internet, compared to only 19% of the aged 15-65 population claiming the same in late 2017. This translates to 61% of households in 2021 using the internet compared to 21% in 2017.
LIRNEasia Chair, Rohan Samarajiva speaks about the Future of Work, what role technology will play and what can be expected under a Digital Sri Lanka on the BISNOMICS Episode 112 DIGITAL – 31-OCT-2021.
“In October 2006, the Government mandated a 50% margin deposit on the invoiced value of 44 listed items.” However, in September 2021, “the margin deposit is 100% for a much larger list.
“A LIRNEasia focus study conducted in Gampaha during Sri Lanka’s second pandemic lockdown last year found that only 48 per cent of households with children had access to a smartphone or a computer and only a third of households with children had an internet connection. This (34 per cent) is on average: poorer, rural households are systematically worse off as the number drops to 21 per cent in the lowest socioeconomic group households.
The fears are that those who are connected or corrupt will get free vaccines, even if they are not on the priority list; or that vaccines obtained for the free channel will be diverted to the pay channel, allowing private providers to make excessive profits which will feed the corruption.