Graduates who have Completed Professional Education in Sri Lanka taking a selfie
Graduates who have Completed Professional Education in Sri Lanka

Education is indeed a powerful tool that impacts various aspects of a country. Hence, it is no secret that many of the countries focus highly on improving their education level. And yes, it is the same with Sri Lanka as well. Still, the free education policy that successfully runs in this county, makes its education system a highlight. Besides, the country offers several opportunities for students to excel in their fields, and professional education also plays an important role with regard. So, through this read, we are going to discuss with you the best things about the professional education sector in Sri Lanka.

Still, before we dive into this aspect of Sri Lanka’s professional education, it is important that we get to know about Sri Lanka’s education as a whole. So, let us first have a quick glance over the special features of Sri Lankan education!

How is the Education System in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka’s education system directly falls under the central government. However, before reaching professional education, a typical Sri Lankan student has to go through the following five stages of education.

  1. Pre-primary education stage
  2. Primary education stage
  3. Secondary education stage
  4. Collegiate education stage
  5. Tertiary education stage

Both formal and informal education in Sri Lanka contributes towards a better society. In addition, education in Sri Lanka is compulsory for children between five to fourteen years of age. Thus, the free education policy along with other educational reforms has paid off well. Moreover, Sri Lanka boasts a 99% youth literacy rate in 2020, according to the UNESCO Institute for statistics data analysis. It is one of the highest literacy rates of youth between 15 to 24 years of age in the South Asian region. Thus, it is indeed a good achievement for Sri Lanka, as a developing country!

Structure of the Education System of Sri Lanka

There are many public, private, and international schools in Sri Lanka. International schools follow IGCSE or GCSE specifications while most of the private schools and public schools follow the Sri Lankan education system. Besides, the Sri Lankan government provides free education to all students studying at public schools.

Furthermore, a typical Sri Lankan child obtains pre-primary education at age four and enters the school for grade one, the first year of formal primary education at the age of five. Thus, primary education lasts for five years. At the end of primary education, students may face a highly competitive national examination that offers scholarships for talented students.

At the end of the primary education stage, a student arrives at his/her secondary education stage. Secondary education is again divided into two parts, junior secondary education, and senior secondary education. Grade six to nine comes under junior secondary education while grades ten to thirteen comes under senior secondary education.

Moreover, there are two key stages in senior secondary education. Out of them, the key stage one is from grade ten to eleven. At the end of key stage one, students have to face the General Certificate of Education (GCE) – Ordinary level examination. Similarly, the key stage two is from grade 12 to 13 in which the students are of age 17-19. At the end of the key stage two of the senior secondary education, students have to face the General Certificate of Education (GCE) – Advanced level examination. Based on the results of this examination, students are selected into state universities in Sri Lanka for higher education.

Having passed these stages of education, an individual would enter the corporate world, and professional education would further fine-tune their skills. So, having mentioned that, let us now look into how professional education in Sri Lanka is!

What is Meant by Professional Education?

To put it simply, professional education is learning that prepares one for expertise in a specific profession. Through professional education, anyone can acquire specialized training in a field along with theory and its applications. Moreover, anyone can obtain professional education at certificate level, diploma level as well as degree level. Thus, all professions require creative, skilled, and qualified personnel.

Besides, professional education transforms an individual to be an expert in the profession through sector-wise training and education. A person with a specific level of competencies and skills in a certain field is recognized by awarding a credential or a detailed certification of qualification by the particular professional organization. People identify such professionals as Chartered professionals.

Usually, this is a terminal qualification and there are many categories of chartered professionals around the globe. Thus, some of these are as follows.

  1. CIMA
  2. ACCA
  3. CA
  4. CIPM
  5. CIM
  6. CIPS
  7. CILT
  8. CILEx
  9. Ceng

So, knowing the professional qualifications available in the world, let us now get to know the pre-requisites and the special features of these qualifications.

What Comes Before Professional Education?

One can start certain professional education qualifications from a beginner level at any age without restriction. CIMA, CA, and ACCA are some professional education streams as such.

However, some professional qualifications require a degree before starting to pursue them. For example, MD (Doctor of Medicine) calls for an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) as an entry requirement. Similarly, CILEx (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) requires an LLB or a Graduate Diploma in Law. In the same way, to become a Chartered Engineer (CEng) one needs to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering.

What are the Professional Qualifications in Sri Lanka?

Professional education in Sri Lanka is largely private. Less than a decade ago, most people engaged in professional education were employed. However, nowadays some start to pursue professional education right after their senior secondary education while some follow it after collegiate education.

Moreover, a considerable amount of Sri Lankan students engage in both higher education and professional education. However, some professional degrees require a Bachelor’s degree or sometimes a Master’s level qualification to pursue them. Further, it has become a trend in developing countries like Sri Lanka, and India to follow two degrees at once, an academic degree and a professional degree.

Besides, according to the Ministry of Higher Education, Sri Lanka’s qualifications framework ranges as follows in order.

  1. Certificate
  2. Advanced Certificate
  3. Diploma
  4. Higher Diploma
  5. Bachelors
  6. Bachelor (Hons)
  7. Post Graduate Diploma
  8. Postgraduate
  9. MA – Master of Arts
  10. MSc – Master in Science
  11. MPhil – Master in Philosophy
  12. MD
  13. Ph.D.

Out of these, people consider MD and Ph.D. as professional qualifications. Moreover, globally recognized Chartered qualifications such as CIMA, CA, CIPM, CIPS, CEng are equally recognized in Sri Lanka. Hence, Chartered professionals have a high chance of securing a management position in an institution. Thus, Sri Lankans can follow the following list of professional degrees in Sri Lanka.

  1. CIMA
  2. CA
  3. ACCA
  4. CIPM
  5. CIM
  6. CIPS
  7. BCS

Interested in knowing more about them? Keep calm! Let’s go through these in more detail.


Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is a UK-based professional body that includes 4 levels with 12 professional qualification exams, case studies, and practical experience. The levels of the CIMA qualification are as follows.

  • Certificate Level: Award of CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting (CIMA CERT BA)
  • Operational Level: Award of CIMA Diploma In Management Accounting (CIMA DIP MA)
  • Managerial Level: Award of CIMA Advanced Diploma In Management Accounting (CIMA ADV DIP MA)
  • Strategic Level: Award of CIMA Passed Finalist and the Award of the CGMA designation upon fulfilling the required experiences.

Besides, the curriculum of CIMA mainly focuses on the following of an organization.

  • Strategic business management
  • Costing
  • Financial accounting

Moreover, qualified CIMA personnel are allowed to use the designation Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) which is a professional qualification recognized in more than 176 countries.

You can also check the official website of CIMA for more information.

2. CA

Most Sri Lankan students start to follow CA and CIMA right after they finish their senior secondary education. However, Chartered Accountancy, CA is a rigorous study of finance and accounting, mostly private practice-oriented. Those who follow chartered accountancy receive training in the following fields.

  • Business and finance
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Financial and general management

Check out the official website of CA for more information.


Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the global professional body that offers the designation Chartered certified accountant. Students can follow ACCA in three levels as applied knowledge, applied skills, and strategic professional. Thus, the applied knowledge level contains the following subjects.

  • Business and Technology (BT)
  • Financial Accounting (FA)
  • Management Accounting (MA)

Furthermore, the applied skills level contains the following set of subjects.

  • Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  • Financial Management (FM)
  • Performance Management (PM)
  • Audit and Assurance (AA)
  • Taxation (TX)
  • Financial Reporting (FR)

Similarly, anyone who follows ACCA has to complete the following set of subjects at the strategic professional level, out of which the first two subjects are compulsory and the rest are optional.

Essential Subjects

  • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  • Strategic Business Leader (SBL)

Optional Subjects

  • Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
  • Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
  • Taxation (Advanced) (ATX)
  • Advanced Performance Management (APM)

However, the main difference between CA and ACCA is that CA is a local qualification whereas ACCA is a global qualification.

Besides, feel free to check the official website of ACCA for more information.


Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) is where one can get a chartered qualification in Human Resources Management. Further, CIPM Sri Lanka is a member of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Human Resources Management.

Besides, Human Resources Management can be studied in the following four levels.

  • ACHRM – Advanced Certificate in Human Resources Management
  • DPHRM – Diploma in Human Resources Management
  • CIHRM – Chartered Intermediate in Human Resources Management
  • CQHRM – Chartered Qualification in Human Resources Management

Check the official website of CIPM for more information.

5. CIM

CIM is the Chartered Institute of Marketing. It mainly focuses on improving the core skills of the professional in the Marketing and Digital Marketing Fields and aspires the individuals to be the best in the field.

The rough framework of the CIM qualification is as follows.

  • Foundation Certificate in Professional Marketing / Professional Digital Marketing: Mostly suitable for juniors and freshers entering the field.
  • Certificate in Professional Marketing / Professional Digital Marketing: Suitable for experienced marketing executives, or equivalent, who are aiming to progress in their career in the field.
  • Diploma in Professional Marketing / Professional Digital Marketing: Appropriate for marketing managers and marketers working in operational and supervisory roles, who are aiming for career progression.
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Marketing: This is the qualification suitable for the seniors in the field, who are aiming at improving their strategic skills.

Visit the official website of CIM for more information.


CIPS is the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply. It offers several qualifications with the aim of improving the core values of procurement and supply chain management professionals.

The qualifications program consists of 5 qualifications, and they are as follows.

  • Certificate: Perfect for beginners in the profession.
  • Advanced Certificate: Ideal for operational-level workers in the field to fine-tune their skills.
  • Diploma: Suitable for professionals who are moving into junior and middle management procurement roles.
  • Advanced Diploma: Ideal for Senior Level professionals who need to improve organizational procurement and to fulfill objectives.
  • Professional Diploma: This qualification is perfect for senior procurement professionals and heads of departments. Further, this is equivalent to a degree.

Check the official website of CIPS for more information.

7. BCS

BCS is the Chartered Institute of IT which is initially known as the British Computer Society. This is a professional body in the field of IT and Computer Science that is recognized in the UK and the world.

This Institute offers qualifications of a wide array, in order to suit individuals from different domains of the IT industry. The types of qualifications they offer are as follows.

  • Certifications for Professionals
  • Apprenticeships
  • Digital Literacy Qualifications
  • Higher Education Qualifications
  • Certifications and Scholarships for Teachers

Visit the official website of BCS for more information.

Does Professional Education in Sri Lanka Suit the Modern World?

Of course, they do, since most of the professional bodies established in Sri Lanka are globally recognized. Owing to this reason many of the Sri Lankan students perform colorfully at the international level.

It is a commendable trend that they mark the onset of their professional education as soon as they finish senior secondary school. So, owing to these reasons, it is clear that Sri Lankan professionals are turning out to be globally recognized and qualified individuals. Thus, we can mention that the professional qualifications in Sri Lanka suit the modern world.

However, anyone can see this tendency only in urban areas. Most of the students in rural areas do not have access to such opportunities owing to poverty and other related problems. That is one of the significant issues that are visible in Sri Lanka when compared with the rest of the countries across the world.

What are the Challenges that Sri Lanka is Facing Today in Professional Education?

Even though education in Sri Lanka is free from the primary level to the university level, professional education is not such an opportunity. Owing to technological advancement, most people are aware of such professional bodies where they can receive professional education. Still, in the past, professional development was limited only to one-time workshops which did not leave much impact.

However, one major issue in obtaining professional education is the language barrier. Most of the students learn English as a school subject, but they lack exposure and practice. As a result, learning a curriculum in English medium becomes a challenge for many, especially at the beginner level.

Besides, Sri Lanka has an academic-oriented culture. Yet, is the education thus obtained can guarantee a career? In fact, Sri Lankan students spend 13 years in formal education, and four years in the University and then enter a profession where they don’t use a single thing they specialized in. They get lost in the job market having no idea where to follow. So, these things indeed happen to challenge relevant to the professional education field in Sri Lanka.

Further, since professional education qualifications are mostly offered by the private sector, and managed by global institutes, they are indeed costly. Tuition fees, memberships, annual subscriptions, and even the examination fees cost high when considering the Sri Lankan scenario. So, the talented students who completed their education thanks to free education, lack opportunities to follow professional qualifications due to their costs. Even though it is a fact that is uncontrollable, it certainly is a challenge that makes talented professionals from rural villages ignore these opportunities.

Future of Professional Education in Sri Lanka

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most professional education institutes conduct their educational activities through online platforms. As a result, students have the chance to engage in foreign and other globally recognized professional education that is not available in Sri Lanka. Everyone should encourage these trends if possible because skilled professionals improve their respective work sectors.

Furthermore, highly skilled professionals are the key to long-term economic growth. They increase productivity, boost creativity and innovation and in turn advance the growth of the economy. Sri Lanka lacks highly skilled professionals due to the deficiency of job opportunities that fit their qualifications. Therefore, the responsible parties should take the necessary steps to retain the highly skilled professionals inside the country.

Furthermore, the education system in Sri Lanka should be reformed to a career-oriented system and students should choose their careers and start working towards professional development from a young age.

Of course, it is visible that these changes are taking place in Sri Lanka with time. Thus, we can hope for a better future for professional education in Sri Lanka!

The Bottom Line

Conclusively, let us highlight to you that the field of professional education in Sri Lanka is indeed at a good level. So, if you are an individual who seeks to excel in your career, you can surely follow the relevant professional education and qualify yourself in Sri Lanka itself. So, why think twice? Keep a step ahead, and pave your path in becoming a qualified professional!