Fuel, power crisis and inflation hit Lankan students hard

Lankan students, both in Sri Lanka and India, are worried about their future.

The deep and unprecedented economic crisis in the island nation of Sri Lanka has affected every section of society, and Lankan students, both in that country and in India, are worried about their future.
Thabooshan, a student of international relations at South Asian University, New Delhi, who belongs to Jaffna province, shared his ordeal with The Sunday Guardian. “In Sri Lanka, the situation is worse. The fuel shortage has paralyzed transport and prices are touching the sky. Many students travel five to six kilometers on foot to reach schools and colleges.” Recently, schools in Sri Lanka were reopened after being closed due to fuel shortage.
However, schools will be open for only three days a week—Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday—and students will be taught online on the other two days of the school week. The most impacted are the students who come from far-off places to schools and now they are not able to reach schools because of less availability of transport due to fuel crisis.
Before the economic crisis, a liter of petrol was around LKR 70, but now it has reached LKR 470. According to local people, liters of petrol in the black-market costs around LKR 3000. “Amid this crisis, many teachers are also not able to reach schools, which directly results in loss of studies,” says Thabooshan.
Thannuja, a resident of Mannar district, said: “The price of books and stationery has gone out of control. We can’t imagine a student without a copy and pen, but there is an acute shortage of basic stationery items like pens and pencils in the market and items which are available are too high in price.”
A long notebook which was around LKR 50, before the crisis is now being sold at LKR 300. In March, Sri Lanka had to cancel the school examination because the country ran out of printing paper and ink. “They have spoiled our studies and future,” said Kathir, a resident of Jaffna and law student at SAU, New Delhi. Free school books are provided to government school students, but the shortage of paper has impacted the supply of books in schools, many parents are now struggling to buy books for their children. “Because of the pandemic, schools were closed for many months and now this crisis has brought a new problem for kids. We worry about our future generation,” said Kathir.
Long power cuts have become a major problem for the people. “Daily we are witnessing power cuts for 8-10 hours and amid this situation, it is hard for us to study. We are not able to properly charge our gadgets,” said Thannuja, who is also preparing for the college entrance examination. “At night, we use lamps to study. This crisis has directly impacted my studies,” Thannuja said.
The island would require roughly USD 5 billion over the next six months to provide for its 22 million residents, who have been suffering from lengthy lines, deteriorating shortages, and power outages.

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