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Dr. Tara de Mel

Dr Tara de Mel is the Executive Director of the Bandaranaike Academy for Leadership & Public Policy. Until recently she was a member of the Worldwide Commission to Educate All Kids (Post pandemic) & a member of the UNESCO Advisory Board of the Global Education Monitoring Report.

She is a medical doctor and was a senior academic at the University of Colombo, Medical Faculty for more than a decade. After which she held several positions in the Government of Sri Lanka for nearly two decades. Special reference in terms of Education Policy, she was the Secretary to the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka on Education, Vice Chairperson, National Education Commission, and coordinated the work of several Presidential Task Forces on Education. She served as the Director, Sri Lanka Foundation Institute and also served as a member on the Board of the Commonwealth of Learning.

In the book ‘Reforming Education : Challenges to Change’ (2022), she describes in detail the efforts taken to modernise and bring transformative change into the Sri Lankan education system amidst multiple challenges.

Throughout her career Dr de Mel has promoted excellence and equity in education, championed child protection, banning corporal punishment and preventing child abuse in schools, as well as preventing ragging and violence in universities.

She is a member of the Global Consultative Group- Mindfulness Initiative UK, and is active in incorporating mindfulness into schools, developing programs on mindfulness with values, ethics and social emotional learning, targeting educators. She co-founded Mindful Educators Sri Lanka and co-authored the Manual for Mindful Educators in 2021.

She holds a MBBS, a research-based MD from the University of Colombo, and MPhil from the University of London, UK.

In 2019 she was awarded National Honors : Sri Lanka Sikkhamani. 

Selected Publications by Dr. Tara

The article discusses the recurring debates on English medium education in Sri Lanka, tracing events from the 1998 Education Reforms emphasizing English education. It highlights the political challenges, critiques, and the need for renewed efforts to enhance English proficiency, drawing parallels with Singapore’s successful bilingual education model. Read the article here.


The article discusses the educational crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly focusing on the challenges faced by teachers and students in Sri Lanka. The appeal at the end urges the government to prioritize and resolve the crisis for the sake of teachers and the education system. Read the article here.

Former Secretary to the Ministry of Education Dr. Tara de Mel shares her insights into the role of the Education Ministry in ending violence in schools and corporal punishment which has begun to be rampant. Read the interview here.

Dr. Tara de Mel, Former Secretary of the Ministry of Education and current Executive Director of BALPP, expresses concern about the lack of access to high-quality education in Sri Lanka. She criticizes the inefficient evaluation system and advocates for an affordable and high-quality tertiary education system to address dropout rates and provide continuous learning opportunities. Read the article here.

“Dr. Tara de Mel’s book places in the public domain her experience when she sat at the “top table” as a senior and empowered official of the Chandrika Bandaranaike administration, in the period 1996-2005. The book records a personal journey, but with insights on the reforms in education that the Government tried to introduce in that period. The book also encourages reflection on why successive governments in this country and professionals and educational practitioners have failed to effect necessary changes in this important area that is of critical importance for national development.” Get the book here.

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