The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation
Addressing the Critical Issues Facing Asia - 60 Years
Bookmark and Share

Books for Asia in Sri Lanka

The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program has shipped more than 3.4 million books to Sri Lanka since 1954 and to this day, no similar book donation program exists in Sri Lanka. Following the conclusion of the country's twenty-five year civil war in May 2009, Books for Asia mobilized its donation program to provide books in the northern provinces where the conflict had its most devastating effect. It continues to serve under-resourced schools and libraries in all of Sri Lanka's provinces, including the areas severely impacted by the 2004 tsunami.

Status of Education in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka boasts a literacy rate of nearly 91 percent (men: 93 percent, women: 89 percent). The government supports free education up to and including university-level studies. Demand for quality English-language texts for school-aged children has surged in the last decade as English has been given increased attention in the Sri Lankan public school system and since 2009 was declared the Year of English Language and Information Communication Technology by the government. English is also recognized as a crucial common tongue to facilitate communication between ethnic groups that have been locked in violent struggle.

Current Focus

Books for Asia Sri Lanka annually distributes approximately 125,000 new books donated by American publishers to more than 1,200 institutions in all parts of the island, including secondary schools, nongovernmental organizations, government agencies, public libraries, universities, and primary schools. The Books for Asia program strongly supports local efforts to create open access libraries and schools with rich resources for English language development. The program is currently focused on providing books to schools and libraries in the northern provinces as part of the reconstruction effort following the recently concluded civil war, and it continues to support areas that were devastated by the 2004 tsunami. Books for Asia provides books on conflict resolution, access to justice, and human rights to local organizations supported by The Asia Foundation.

Read more about The Asia Foundation's work in Sri Lanka.

Project and Partner Highlights

Post-War Recovery. Books for Asia is working with the Methodist Church Sri Lanka to expand the program to 900 more schools in the northern provinces, the area hardest hit by the decades-long conflict. Special purchases were  made to supplement supply of books donated by publishers, including children's books for schools in the Northern Province and biography, sociology, and psychology texts for the University of Jaffna.

Mobile Libraries. In partnership with the AIG Disaster Relief Fund, Give2Asia, and local authorities, Books for Asia is supplying books to four mobile libraries serving communities in Sri Lanka's southern coastal belt and Eastern Province on an ongoing basis where libraries were devastated by the December 2004 tsunami and a reported 2.5 million were displaced.


Anton Nallathamby
Books for Asia Director

Sharmini Nagendran
Program Officer

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Instagram
  • RSS Feeds