Cash-strapped Sri Lanka cancels school exams due to paper shortage | News

Official sources said the move could effectively delay testing for around two-thirds of the country’s 4.5 million students.

Sri Lanka canceled exams for millions of students in Western Province as the country ran out of printing paper and Colombo ran out of dollars to fund imports, officials say.

Education authorities have said quarterly tests, scheduled for a week from Monday, have been postponed indefinitely due to a severe shortage of paper as Sri Lanka faces its worst financial crisis since the independence in 1948.

“School principals cannot organize the tests because printers are unable to obtain foreign currency to import the necessary paper and ink,” the provincial education ministry said. West, where nearly six million people live.

Quarterly tests for grades 9, 10 and 11 are part of an ongoing assessment process to decide whether students are promoted to the next grade at the end of the year.

A debilitating economic crisis caused by a shortage of foreign exchange reserves to fund essential imports has seen the country run out of food, fuel and pharmaceuticals.

IMF bailout

The cash-strapped South Asian nation of 22 million people announced this week that it would seek an IMF bailout to address its worsening external debt crisis and bolster its external reserves.

The International Monetary Fund confirmed on Friday that it was considering President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s surprise request on Wednesday to discuss a bailout.

The island nation secured a $1 billion line of credit from India to buy urgently needed food and medicine, officials said, after Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s visit to New Delhi .

About $6.9 billion of Colombo’s debt is due to be repaid this year, but its foreign currency reserves stood at about $2.3 billion at the end of February.

Long queues have formed across the country for groceries and petrol, with the government instituting blackouts and rationing of powdered milk, sugar, lentils and rice.

Earlier this year, Sri Lanka asked China, one of its main creditors, for help in deferring debt payments, but there has been no official response from Beijing yet.

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