Sri Lanka’s declining birth rate meant we now have a manageable population, largely due to education.
Sri Lanka is relatively functional today because earlier governments invested in health and education. Both matter because they create functional citizens. Education is especially important because female education is highly correlated with lower birth rates. Compare Sri Lanka to India or Bangladesh and you can see how poverty breeds poverty, and the cost that can have 50 years down the line.
As you can see from the graph above, Sri Lanka’s birth rate declined dramatically over the last century, meaning our problems are a lot smaller than India or Bangladesh. This is largely due to female education.
As Serendipity points out, however, the current Education budget is 15% of Defense. As a comparison, the US Education budget is about 90% of Defense. India spends about 70%. I thought those numbers would be closer to Sri Lanka, but they’re not. So not good.
While keeping the peace is undoubtably a great boon to the people of Sri Lanka, we also have to consider what the greatest investment for the future is. Infrastructure is good, but infrastructure without people that know how to run it is just money for the (usually foreign) people that do.
And have no doubt about it, the education system is messed. Unemployment increases with level of education, showing that the system actually makes people less employable than not educating them at all. Personally, I’ve dealt with tons of CVs which are just depressing, they have a degree, but can’t speak English, they can speak English, but can’t fill out a CV, the job doesn’t require English and they fit, but they want a government job.
These are often kids that work hard and do what they’re supposed to do, it’s just that the contract is broken at the end. The Education system is resistant to change, and the government resists changing it, but that remains the single best investment we can make in the future of Sri Lanka. Its people.