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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2770

Oxfam urges Sri Lanka Government to prioritizw essential services

An increase in Teacher salaries needed

Colombo, 19 October, (Asiantribune.com):The Sri Lankan Government must build on its achievements and fulfil its primary responsibility for delivering essential services, education, basic health, water and sanitation to all equitably, a new Oxfam International report said today.

Though Sri Lanka leads it’s neighbours on the human development index and has the highest literacy rate in the region with over 90% of all adults literate. Yet, the teachers in Sri Lanka are paid the lowest of all government officials in Sri Lanka, which has led to low teacher morale forcing them to take second jobs, the report said. Even in the provision of health, water and sanitation services again Sri Lanka leads the region but 22% of its population still remains without access to safe drinking water. Creeping user fees at public health facilities as well as the inadequate health facilities in the plantation areas keep out the poorest of the poor from accessing basic facilities.

Key recommendations include ensuring teacher salaries are increased to at least 3.5 times the national per capita GDP.

`Serve the Essentials: What Governments and Donors Must Do to Improve South Asia’s Essential Services’ assesses the effectiveness of state services in primary education, basic health and water and sanitation in six South Asian countries - India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh - and reveals that the situation is worrying. It urges all South Asian governments to undertake a more activist role in meeting developmental challenges head-on.

“Sri Lanka has shown immense commitment in the past to social development. What it needs now is to renew that strong commitment by improving access to basic services for the plantation workers, the tsunami and conflict affected people in the country ” said Joan Summers, Country Programme Representative, Sri Lanka “The Sri Lankan government can prioritise and stem regional disparities in delivering the essential services with a mixture of right policies and sincere political commitment.”

Mr Jean Dreze, eminent economist and social activist, in his foreword to the report, said, “Essential services are fundamental rights of all citizens, rather than a form of state largesse. This report makes excellent use of the comparative perspective within South Asia and shows that every country in the region has much to learn from its neighbours.”

The report advocates against user fees for essential services, for legislation on `right to information’ to combat corruption and for a focus on access for women. The report recognises the urgent need to build capacities in public delivery systems and advocates fruitful collaboration between the state and non-state agencies in delivering essential services.

`Serve the Essentials’ also calls upon NGOs and citizens to monitor their government’s promises on essential services. The report is a wake-up call to leaders and ordinary citizens to make universal provisioning of essential services an immediate reality across South Asian countries.

- Asian Tribune -

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