Sri Lanka Cancels School Exams for Paper Shortage

Officials claimed Saturday that Sri Lanka cancelled examinations for millions of pupils because the country ran out of printing paper and Colombo was short on funds to pay imports.

The term tests, scheduled for a week from Monday, have been postponed indefinitely, according to education officials, due to a severe paper scarcity as Sri Lanka grapples with its greatest financial crisis since independence in 1948. “School principals are unable to hold the tests because printers are unable to get foreign exchange to import essential paper and ink,” according to the Western Province Department of Education.

According to official sources, the action could effectively put two-thirds of the country’s 4.5 million students’ exams on hold. Term assessments are part of a year-long evaluation process that determines whether pupils will be promoted to the next grade level.

The country is running out of food, fuel, and pharmaceuticals due to a crippling economic crisis caused on by a lack of foreign exchange reserves to finance crucial imports. The cash-strapped 22-million-strong South Asian country declared this week that it will seek IMF assistance to fix its rising foreign debt crisis and shore up its external reserves.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s surprising Wednesday request to negotiate a bailout was confirmed by the International Monetary Fund on Friday. Colombo’s debt is due to be serviced in the amount of $6.9 billion this year, while its foreign currency reserves were at $2.3 billion at the end of February.

Long lines have formed for groceries and oil around the country, as the government has implemented rolling blackouts and rationing of milk powder, sugar, lentils, and rice. Sri Lanka approached China, one of its biggest creditors, for assistance in deferring debt payments early this year, but Beijing has yet to respond.

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