By 2001, however, the percentage of literate women had gone up to 90% of the female population in comparison with 93% for the male population. Among Lankan youth between the ages of 15-24, it is even higher at 97% literate females to 99% literate males, according to UNICEF Sri Lanka statistics for the 2005-10 period.
This poses an interesting question: How did the gap between the percentages of literate men and women come to be narrowed so rapidly and significantly during the intervening 60-odd year period? What was the equivalent of the “open sesame” that opened the closed doors of formal school-based education for Lankan women in the post-independence period? The simple answer: “Free Education.”