Category Archives: Uncategorised

Open-book vs. closed-book examinations in higher education during COVID-19: The case of the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo

T. A. M. Pushpakumara


The COVID-19 pandemic has made a significant impact on the education sector in Sri Lanka. During the pandemic, Sri Lankan universities resorted to online platforms to continue teaching. Undergraduates had online lectures and sat online open-book examinations. The Faculty of Arts (FoA), University of Colombo conducted the final examination of semester I as an onsite closed-book examination and the final examination of semester II as an online open-book examination for the first-year undergraduates in the academic year 2020/2021. The objective of this study is to identify the impact of the mode of examination on the performance of the first-year undergraduates at the FoA. The study is based on both primary and secondary data. Secondary data were collected from three departments of the FoA selected randomly. Primary data were collected from the selected undergraduates through a telephone survey. Paired sample T test is applied as the main analytical tool of this study. The findings show that the average mark of the onsite examination is significantly higher than the average mark of the online examination. According to the undergraduates’ opinions, the main reason for the low performance at the online examination was the teaching-learning environment they had during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Online teaching, Online examination, Open-book examination, Onsite examination, Performance.

Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka: The way-in and the way-out

S. Abeyratne


This paper is aimed at an investigation into the sources of current economic crisis in Sri Lanka and to outline a policy approach to the way forward. The crisis has built up slowly from the country’s anti-export bias growing over the past 20 years. Its last episode ended with the collapse was triggered by a series of external shocks and domestic policy issues during 2020-2021. Sri Lanka presents a classic example of a “twin-deficit” economy with growing policy bias against exports along with an unsustainable economic growth from the debt-financed non-tradable sector. In the absence of a sustainable growth momentum from the tradable sector, there was growing foreign exchange imbalances even though foreign exchange was needed for financing the country’s growing imports and maturing foreign debt. The paper concludes that Sri Lanka has a policy need not only to recover from the crisis but also to ensure an export-led progressive growth path beyond the crisis.

Keywords: Economic crisis, Foreign exchange crisis, Debt crisis, Sri Lanka

Book Review: Secrets of the Young and Successful: How to Get Everything You Want without Waiting a Lifetime by Kushnell, Jennifer and Kaufman, Scott M., 2003, New York: Fireside, 317 pages, paperback. ISBN 0-7432-2758-1

This book provides several ‘success secrets.’ The introduction follows a description of young and successful people and their accomplishments. Further, it teaches how to assess individual capacity, how to build a vision for an ‘ideal life,’ and how to write a grand plan. A lot of emphasis is given to “stimulators” which are the key factors that help to achieve the “ideal life” (Kushnell & Kaufman, 2003, p. 19).

The Short and the Long-term Effects of Economic Factors and Population Growth on Unemployment: Empirical Evidence from Sri Lanka

L.L.M. Madushani, M.A.Y.D. Madurapperuma 


This study aims at investigating the determinants of unemployment in Sri Lanka over a period of 1990-2020 by examining the empirical relationship among the unemployment, gross domestic product, inflation, foreign direct investment, population growth, and exports. A macroeconomic factor model is employed using the annual time series data. The Autoregressive Distributed Lag (ARDL) approach is used to test the relationship between the unemployment and its determinants. The study identifies that the gross domestic product, foreign direct investment, population growth, and export have significant impact on unemployment, while inflation shows to be having no significant explanatory power in
determining unemployment in the short run. In the case of the long-run relationship, the study finds that the gross domestic product, inflation, foreign direct investment, and population growth have a statistically significant explanatory power of unemployment, while exports show an insignificant result in the long run. The CUSUM and CUSUMQ show that the constructed ARDL model is stable within the 5% of critical bounds.

Keywords: Inflation, Gross Domestic Product, Export, Foreign Direct Investment, Population Growth

Urban Development Pressure: Challenges in Ensuing Green Cover in Unawatuna – Rumassala Area, Sri Lanka

J.N.D. Jayathunga, P. G. Dikwaththa


The continuous development of cities has created significant issues in the planning and management of an area’s environment and landscapes. This is due to the requirement for supported products such as housing, business facilities, infrastructure networks, and environmental protection. Decades of uncontrolled development have had a significant impact on both the natural environment and the quality of human life. The goal of this study is to examine the change in green cover owing to development over the last few years and to
estimate the development pressure index to ensure green cover in the Unawatuna-Rumassala area. Defining the development pressure to prioritise green cover in order to protect the Unawatuna-Rumassala region as an ecotourism destination. Based on the model builder methodology in ArcGIS, this study presents an improved way of analysing development pressure. The development pressure index focuses on finding areas that are prone to significant development pressure. The development pressure was identified using the following
criteria: accessibility, population density, building density, and land use and land cover. In 2009 and 2016,  Landsat satellite images were utilised to analyse the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which aids in identifying changes in green cover over time. The simulation findings demonstrate that NDVI levels have changed dramatically between 2009 and 2016. On elevated and low topographic slopes where human activity was prevalent, moderate NDVI values shifted to low NDVI values. Furthermore, development pressure has concentrated in the Rumassala protection zone, having a significant impact on the area’s ecosystem. The
increased development pressure in the studied area has also resulted in biodiversity deterioration.

Keywords: Development Pressure Index, Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), Green cover, Urbanization, Urban Planning

Education, Citizenship and Development in Sri Lanka

Hettige, S.


Sri Lanka’s post-independence social and political discourses have been dominated by issues connected with education, citizenship, national identity and economic development. This essay, based on some of the more recent social science research literature, provides a brief overview of the interconnections and interdependencies across the domains of education, citizenship and development. While much of the social science literature dealing with education, national identity and development have remained largely segmented, the analysis here is an effort to demonstrate how the three areas are closely interconnected. The essay also identifies the need to adopt evidence based public policies to bring about desired change. The key challenge is how to align education, national identity and development in order to achieve wider societal goals of national integration and inclusive and equitable development. Social science research has a critical role to play here, not only to inform social and political discourses on the above issues but also to guide the process of public policy making in the relevant sectors.  


Keywords: education, citizenship, development, public policy, social justice, societal goals   

Patriarchy in Three Contemporary Sinhala Novels

Gurusinghe, L.


The novel is a literary genre which depicts social reality, its discomforts, and political underpinnings.  By looking at three Sinhala novels published in 2019, this paper investigates how the woman is portrayed through a patriarchal lens in literature. The chosen novels are Nishkranthiya by Sunethra Rajakarunanayake, Kumara Kobei by Shamel Jayakody and Thee Haa Thaa by Surath de Mel. They have unique narrative styles and a noteworthy representation of femininity. The study is based mainly on the following themes of feminist theory: patriarchy, sex, and gender. The main characters of all three novels are women and patriarchy plays a major role in their lives. All three novels present patriarchy as the norm and it is reinforced through issues concerning domestic violence, gender, and reproduction.

Keywords: Feminism, gender, patriarchy, sexuality, Sinhala novel

Impact of COVID-19 on Exports: Evidence from Sri Lanka

Priyanga Dunusinghe


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of people’s economic life across the globe. Most countries put in place restrictions to prevent the spread of the pandemic. The pandemic brought about financial, technological and policy shocks. This paper aims at assessing the impact of COVID-19 on Sri Lanka’s exports. The first part of the paper discusses Sri Lanka’s recent export performance while the second section aims at quantifying the impact based on a novel approach proposed in the recent literature. Specifically, this study employs the traditional gravity model framework in quantifying the determinants of Sri Lanka’s exports and utilizes the estimated coefficients along with the GDP forecasts in assessing the impact of COVID-19 on exports. It is expected that COVID-19 induced supply and demand shocks are duly absorbed into the GDP forecasts. Our analysis found that the pandemic severely affected Sri Lanka’s exports, compared to most of its competitors, largely due to Sri Lanka’s heavy concentration on a few ‘non-essential’ products and a few regions which were gravely exposed to the pandemic. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka’s traditional agriculture exports were marginally affected by the pandemic. The determinants of exports clearly indicate that economic performance and trade and investment freedoms in partner countries are crucial to the success of Sri Lanka’s exports. When compared to the realized export data for 2020, our assessment did a reasonable approximation on the impact of COVID-19 on exports. The assessment for 2021 suggests that it is highly unlikely that Sri Lanka’s total exports reach its pre-pandemic level. Sri Lanka needs to adopt proactive measures in revitalizing the export sector so that Sri Lanka is not at a disadvantage when the global economy emerges from the pandemic in the near future. Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that the pre-pandemic competitive edge remains intact in the post-pandemic era.

Keywords: COVID-19, exports, gravity model framework, impact analysis, Sri Lanka

Vidhya’s Discursive Body: An Exploration into the Politics of Inclusion and Interpretation of Individual Experience

Dissanayake, A.K


The abduction, gang rape and murder of Vidhya Sivaloganathan, an eighteen-year-old schoolgirl in May 2015, in Jaffna, and the events that followed this atrocious crime are demonstrative of how the body and its performance/ experiences are acknowledged, read, and interpreted from within diverse discourses such as those of law, gender, race, power and gaze. These discourses act as frames of recognition which decide the inclusion or exclusion of individuals from recognition as bodies that are vulnerable. Vidhya’s bodily experiences too fall in and out of frames that serve to grant her recognition and politicize her personal experiences, space, and memory. This underscores how the meaning and importance given to the body cannot be created outside of these discourses, and how, interpretations made of the body via these discourses drain the body of any freewill, individuality, and agency. This article argues that, since meaning making of personal experience is dependent on such frameworks, more egalitarian frames of reference which would serve to minimize exclusion of bodies from further discussion, are in order.

Keywords: Discourse, frames of recognition, the body as text, personal as political, agency

Sri Lankan Economy: A Tale of Misidentification of Priorities, COVID-19 Shock, and Recovery

Vidanagama, S.


With the onset of the pandemic, certain areas of the economy had to be closed down. The immediate reaction of many analysts was to place the blame of the resultant slowdown of economic activities on the pandemic. However, a close examination of the Sri Lankan economy over the past decades shows that the economy was in no place to face an exogenous shock such as a pandemic. Thereby, such a slowdown was inevitable. However, the pandemic only aggravated the problems caused by three longstanding gaps in the economy. These gaps were mainly caused by poor growth performance and misidentifications of priorities by policy makers since independence in 1948. Considering the seriousness of the pandemic, the immediate way-out strategy in the short and medium term appears to be implementing measures to achieve the long-term growth that the country anticipated before the pandemic destabilized the economy. Once that is achieved, long term policies could be put in place to reach the status of a ‘developed country’.

Keywords: COVID-19 shock, Sri Lankan economy, missed opportunities, GDP growth, Sri Lanka