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Can all this really work?

Democratic schools have been in operation for decades, serving communities in different countries and at different socio-economic levels. There’s no reason it can’t work here, but one of the biggest bottlenecks would be letting go of the need for your child’s success to be validated by an examination (instead, their evidence of learning will be the portfolio of the projects they engaged in, which is a much more valid and far less fake-able measure).

Of course, children who want to pursue conventional higher education (assuming that that will still be gated by A/L results, which will not necessarily be the case a decade from now) can still take those exams. Plenty of home-schooled/dem-schooled children have shown that they can “study for” exams and pass if they needed it for what they wanted to do.

However, given the highly competitive nature of A/Ls in Sri Lanka for the limited spaces in the public university system, students who wish to pursue this are probably better off pursuing Cambridge/EdExcel (for which ample tutoring opportunities exist) or perhaps IB.

Can I afford it?

We would love for every child to have access to this approach.

Generally, democratic schooling will cost less than private conventional schooling (for the same level of infrastructure), but will still be out of reach for many, especially those who struggle to even meet the basic supplementary expenses (transport, stationery, footwear, etc) to participate in free public education.

Nevertheless, during lockdown, you will be able to afford unschooling more easily than you can afford classroom-by-zoom (the biggest challenge would actually be access to a support group); as lockdown eases (but not enough for schools to open) you will be able afford micro-classrooms as well

The financial barrier will only appear at the level of upgrading to a micro-school. And if that barrier proves unsurmountable, you will still be able to return to conventional school having provided a better learning environment for your child in the interim.