Sri Lankan government officially announced over the weekend that State and government-approved private schools would be closed this coming week all across Colombo and surrounding regions, in yet another major blow to children's education- which has already been impacted due to the COVID pandemic.
The decision came amid the rapidly worsening nationwide fuel shortage, with citizens needing to wait up to more than 50 hours in queues to refuel their vehicles. While people queued up outside fuel pumps, their kids either accompanied them for hours or stayed home worrying about their parents' safety. Long queuing at fuel pimps also keeps parents away from work, causing another financial stress on families, as per a report in Save The Children.
With the lack of fuel for both public transport and private vehicles, numerous kids across Sri Lanka have no other means to come to school, even in areas where schools are formally operational. Just 20 per cent of public bus services across the nation is in operation. Meanwhile, private transport services, such as trishaws [motorised rickshaws], are also operating at partial capacity, with motorists stuck in long queues to refill fuel.
A Nationwide Crisis That's Getting Bad To Worse
Sri Lanka is currently battling its worst economic crisis since its independence, with livelihoods, agriculture, food security and access to health particularly being massively affected. Numerous schools in the country were closed for almost one and a half years amid the global pandemic; however, since they re-opened at the beginning of 2022, they have been forced to close multiple times due to the current ongoing economic crisis in the country.
This most delinquent closure is set to further disrupt the education of children across all major cities and towns in the country, as well as prevent them from accessing free school meals, which is a significant lifeline for Sri Lanka's most vulnerable kids. Not only schools, but government employees are also affected due to this significant fuel crisis, with offices announcing Work From Home (WFH) for at least the next couple of weeks.