RPCs commend advancements on education in RPC estates

  • 48 new schools constructed within the Plantation sector in 1 year
  • 10,000 students enrolled between 2018 and 2019
  • RPCs grant over 840 scholarships to deserving students among company estates

In recognition that education lays the foundation for a successful life, Regional
Plantation Companies (RPCs) marked International Day of Education by celebrating educational
advancements in the plantation sector.
According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Education, between 2018 and 2019, a total of 48
new schools were established with almost 10,000 students enrolling from the estate sector.
Post-privatization of tea plantations in 1992, the Planters’ Association of Ceylon noted that there had
been consistent improvement in terms of investment into educational services across estates. According
to the School Census Report published by the Ministry of Education, there was a 5.09% increase in the
enrollment of students in the sector between 2018 and 2019. Additionally, there was a 6.03% increase in
the number of schools within the same period.
The capacity of plantation sector schools has expanded dramatically, with the Ministry of Education
reporting an increase of 715 teachers employed in the span of only one year.
The Student-Teacher Ratio (STR) in schools within estates also recorded impressive improvements,
standing at 15.1 in 2019 (School Census Report) – suggesting greater individual attention and assistance
for students. This is a significant improvement when compared with the national Student-Teacher Ratio
of 16.5 in the same year, implying a narrowing gap in the quality of education available to estate sector
communities relative to the rest of the island.
“Education provides a firm foundation for development and we must ensure that every child and youth
are given the necessary support and guidance to complete their educational journey. We thank the
Government of Sri Lanka for playing a vital role in providing free access to education and much needed
facilities for students residing in RPC estates,” noted the Chairman of the Planters’ Association of
Ceylon, Bhathiya Bulumulla.
According to a World Bank report, the greatest improvement in educational attainment over the years
has been in the estate sector. Between 2003 and 2012, the proportion of students who completed
primary level education improved by only 4% in Sri Lanka as a whole, while the corresponding
improvement in the estate sector was 10%.

This dramatic improvement was complemented by advancements in higher education as well – the
proportion of students who completed O/Ls improved from 7 to 9% in the estate sector.
RPCs also credit advances in educational attainment to the solid academic foundation provided by their
Early Childhood Development (ECD) program which is currently funded by member companies across
223 centers for the benefit of over 30,000 children each year.
The Plantation Human Development Trust – a tripartite organization comprised of RPCs, trade unions,
and the government – instills the values of education in young children through Childhood Development
“We believe in taking a holistic approach to ensure that our children are given the necessary guidance
and support in their path to education which begins at a very young age. Our early childhood
development centres, offer support to not only the children but also their parents who are encouraged
to take part in awareness programs to effectively be involved in the emotional, social and physical
development of their children,” Bulumulla noted.
In addition to generalized programmes, RPCs have also supported deserving candidates who went on to
pursue their tertiary education in various disciplines relating to medicine, law, engineering, and arts over
the years. RPCs have also partnered with organizations like the MJF charitable foundation to provide
over 840 educational scholarships to deserving candidates accepted to University and students who have
performed well at their GCE Ordinary Level examination.
Commenting on the broader importance of education for the development of the agriculture sector, PA
Chairman Bhathiya Bulumulla noted that more work remains to be done in order to encourage and
enable children from these communities to take up subjects relating to Science, Technology, Engineering
and Mathematics.
“Living in a country where over 23% of the workforce is in agriculture, it is important to always
consider the evolving technological landscape and the positive role that it can play in our industry in the
years to come. In a future where we succeed in sparking a digital revolution in the plantation industry,
we will need a more skilled and educated workforce to adapt, manage and maintain new technologies
which our industry’s productivity hinges upon.
“It is no secret that youth between the ages of 15-24 are leaving the estate sector for blue collared jobs
in cities, which has contributed to the labour shortage in the industry. To rectify this situation, we need
to ensure that there is dignity of work in the plantations. One way to achieve this vital objective is to encourage innovation and expand access to education in order to catalyze a new vision for our
industry,” Bulumulla asserted.

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