Sri Lanka has cancelled examinations for millions of students as the country ran out of printing paper and the cash-strapped country could not pay for imports, officials said on Saturday. According to the East Coast Daily report, the Sri Lankan education officials said that the term examinations which were scheduled to take place for a week from Monday are now postponed indefinitely due to paper shortage as the country is already battling with one of the greatest financial crises since gaining independence in 1948.

The department of Education of the Western Province said, “School principals cannot hold the tests as printers are unable to secure foreign exchange to import necessary paper and ink”. As per the report, the official sources stated that cancellation of examinations now effectively puts two-thirds of the nation’s 4.5 million students’ exams on hold. It is pertinent to note that the term examinations are part of a year-long evaluation process that determines if the students will be promoted to the next grade level.

The paper shortage comes at a time when Sri Lanka is running out of food, gasoline, and even medicines due to an economic crisis which is caused by the scarcity of foreign exchange reserved to fund crucial imports. Just this week, the cash-strapped 22-million-strong Sri Lanka had declared that it would seek International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) assistance to fix the rising foreign debt issue and shore up its external reserves.

IMF on Friday confirmed that Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday had requested to negotiate a bailout. Colombo’s debt is mainly due to being serviced in the amount of $6.9 billion this year and its foreign currency reserves were at $2.3 billion at the end of February.

India to aid Sri Lanka with $1 bn credit line

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka on March 17 signed a $1 billion credit line with India for the procurement of food, medicines and other essential items. Sri Lanka remains embroiled in economic crises after the country’s foreign exchange reserves hit an all-time low coupled with rising foreign debt.

On Thursday, the Government of Sri Lanka signed the agreement with the State bank of India during Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksha’s two-day visit to India. While Sri Lanka had entered into similar low-interest, loan agreements with China, the country is reportedly being pushed into a debt trap. At this critical juncture, Sri Lanka has urged India for help and India has come to the rescue of its neighbour.

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