An island nation of about 20 million people located off the southern coast of India, Sri Lanka has high literacy rates and a strong network of non-governmental organisations. 

School-age Population by Education Level1









Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Secondary Education
for the school year ending 20181









Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Tertiary Education
for the school year ending 20181









Percentage of female teachers in 1




Secondary (2018)


Tertiary (2018)



1. UNESCO Institute for Statistics Data Centre, retrieved in March 2020


Literacy rate (2010)1




Adult (15+) literacy rate


Adult (15+) literacy rate



Economic Activity (2010)1




Adult (15+) economic activity


Adult (15+) economic activity



Political Decision Making (2014)1


Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament



Life expectancy (2012)1









1. COL gender country profile April 2015 


11.6 115.1
Fixed-telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1 Mobile-cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1



7.2 58.8
Fixed-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1 Mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1



27.2 34.1
Households with a computer (%)1 Individuals using the internet (%)1



1. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ICT Eye Country profile, retrieved in March 2020



The Commonwealth of Learning’s (COL) work in Sri Lanka includes the areas of gender, higher education, lifelong learning for farmers and open educational resources.


Gender is a cross-cutting theme in all of COL's work. COL aims to harness the potential of open and distance learning to expand access to education and improve learning outcomes for girls/women and boys/men by integrating a gender perspective into ODL practice and delivery. The focus is on building capacity for gender mainstreaming amongst partners in both formal and non-formal education. Three universities in Sri Lanka conducted gender audits and developed gender roadmaps using COL’s Institutional Gender Scorecard. COL is now working with 12 additional universities in Sri Lanka to support this process in their institutions.  Learn more about COL's work on gender equality and gender mainstreaming.

Higher education

COL’s Higher Education initiative works to develop human resources for social and economic development across the Commonwealth. It supports higher education institutions and ministries in capacity building, policy development and curriculum reform. COL is working with Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) to offer the Commonwealth Executive Masters in Business Administration and Commonwealth Executive Masters in Public Administration (CEMBA/CEMPA) Programme. OUSL also holds a seat on the Executive Governing Board and Academic Board of the programme. Learn more about the Higher Education initiative

Lifelong Learning for Farmers

COL’s Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) initiative empowers farming communities through the use of open and distance learning and flexible and blended learning. It was officially launched in Sri Lanka in 2007. Learn more about the Lifelong Learning for Farmers initiative.

Open Educational Resources

Open educational resources (OER) play an important role in ensuring equitable access to quality learning materials across the Commonwealth and beyond. COL is committed to developing and promoting the use of OERs among institutions, organisations and governments through capacity building and advocacy programmes and the development of OER policies. COL, with guidance from the Ministry of Education and in collaboration with the Open University of Sri Lanka, is supporting the development of draft OER policies for the provincial ministries of education in Sri Lanka. Learn more about COL's work in open educational resources.


Partnerships are fundamental to COL’s work. Strategic partnerships allow COL to broaden its reach and engage at global, regional and national levels, while implementation partners support COL’s work in communities and institutions across Commonwealth Member States. Partners include multilateral organisations, regional bodies, national governments, government agencies, foundations, civil society organisations, public and private (not-for-profit) institutions and the private sector.

COL's partners in Sri Lanka include:

  • Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure 
  • Open University of Sri Lanka
  • Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum
  • University Grants Commission
  • University of Peradeniya
  • University of Ruhuna