Oct 11, Colombo: India has awarded prestigious Mahatma Gandhi Scholarships to 150 meritorious Sri Lanka students yesterday at a function organized at the Sri Lanka Ministry of Education in the presence of Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena with High Commissioner of India in Colombo Ashok K. Kantha as the Chief Guest.
The High Commission said in a release the ceremony was attended by senior officials of the Education Ministry, principals of leading schools in Colombo and parents of selected students.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Education S.M. Gotabaya Jayaratne, lauded the assistance provided under the Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship Scheme to 150 meritorious and needy students from Sri Lanka, six each from all the 25 districts.
Jayaratne noted that the prestigious scholarship, initiated in 2006 with an annual intake of 100 students, has assisted several needy students to continue their studies and complete GCE Advance level. He thanked the Government of India for increasing the scholarship amount to Rs 2,000 per month and also the number of students by 50 percent to 150 from the current year.
The Chief Guest on the occasion, Bandula Gunawardena, said educational, cultural and religious ties between India and Sri Lanka were initiated several centuries ago and in recent times India has provided assistance in several areas including the proposed language laboratories in all nine provinces, setting up an India - Sri Lanka Centre for English Language Training (ISLCELT) at Peradeniya and the training of teachers at English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) in Hyderabad.
High Commissioner of India Ashok K. Kantha has expressed his gratitude to all the officials of the Ministry of Education for working tirelessly in selecting the meritorious students in consultation with the High Commission of India.
The High Commissioner has noted that the Mahatma Gandhi scholarship was not a mere financial award provided to 'O' level students and to assist them in completing GCE Advance level. It was recognition for a lifetime. These awardees would henceforth be recognized as winners of the Mahatma Gandhi scholarship. It thus placed tremendous responsibility on the students in not just performing well academically, but also to spread the noble ideals of the great leader, which includes peace, tolerance and respect for all.
The High Commissioner informed the scholarship winners to take advantage of several scholarship schemes offered by India to pursue higher studies in some of India's best institutes of learning. He said preferential treatment would be given to Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship awardees for Indian scholarships. He noted that, starting this year the number of scholarships had been virtually tripled to over 270 slots, amounting to a grant assistance of Rs. 2.5 billion provided by India over the next three years. The fully-funded scholarships enable a student to pursue studies at undergraduate, masters and research scholar levels. A diverse range of disciplines are covered under the scholarships including Engineering, Science, Business, Economics, Arts, Dance and Music.