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Sept 26, 2008 (LBO) – Despite Sri Lanka™s high primary school enrollment rate, large numbers drop out owing to weaknesses in the system, with many taking to crime, organizers of an education exhibition said.

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The island’s primary school net enrollment rate is as high as 97.5 percent, said Kamal Abeysinghe, the head of Edex Expo 2009, an education exhibition to be held in January 23-25 next year to promote education options for youth.

But, he said, the lack of continuity in Sri Lanka™s education system is to blame for youth in the country who follow a life of crime.

Abeysinghe said that currently 400,000 children enter the formal education system annually.

But about 80,000 (18 percent) students drop out before completing the ordinary level (O/L) examinations.

Weakness in the education system in the country means that most of these youth can™t find employment and many end up in the local prisons for various crimes, Abeysinghe said.

“Apparently, more than 70 percent of inmates in our prisons are supposed to be school dropouts or illiterate people,” said Abeysinghe.