Mar 02, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Minister of Higher Education S.B Dissanayake inaugurated the much awaited "Indian Education Fair-2013 Saturday at the BMICH in Colombo in the presence of High Commissioner of India in Colombo. Ashok K. Kantha.
While addressing participating institutions and other distinguished guests, Chief Guest Minister Dissanayake congratulated the organizers for bringing the Education Fair to Sri Lanka for the third consecutive year.
Minister Dissanayake urged the youth, especially those who have completed their O/L & A/L examination, to visit the Fair and interact with representatives of more than 30 institutions representing nearly 100 colleges.
Minister expressed the confidence that students would be able to clarify their queries regarding studying in India directly from the representatives of the Indian institutions.
Minister recalling the strong historical and cultural bonds between the two countries and highlighted the ongoing educational cooperation, said, it was only natural that India has been one of the most preferred destinations for Sri Lankan students to pursue higher education for many years.
Elaborating further, the Minister said bilateral cooperation between the two countries covers a diverse set of activities ranging from capacity building in the higher education sector to infrastructure development and the much-sought-after fully-paid scholarships to study in India.
Minister Dissanayake said officers in his Ministry and the High Commission of India were currently in the process of selecting students for various scholarships, including 125 slots for undergraduate studies, 50 slots for postgraduate studies and 15 places for masters and PhD in subjects such as engineering, bio sciences, management, humanities and fine arts.
The High Commissioner said the education sector in India was growing at a rapid pace with nearly 6% of GDP being invested in this sector, out of which 50 percent contribution came from the private sector. While highlighting increase of 17% in the current budget allocation for education in India, he urged that both countries should explore newer areas of cooperation to benefit from each other's experience.
Kantha said encouraged by the overwhelming response received from students and their parents in its previous two editions, this time the Education Fair was also being taken to Jaffna and Kandy.
He said the participating institutions represent some of the finest in their fields. This event would provide the students an opportunity to personally interact with them to seek educational guidance and career planning.
The High Commissioner revealed that some colleges at the Education Fair might even consider making on-the-spot offers of enrolment into Indian colleges to eligible students. He urged the students to make use of the opportunity and visit the Fair in large numbers.
On the occasion, Minister Dissanayake also launched the Education Brochure published by the High Commission of India. High Commissioner Kantha said the brochure was intended to cater to hundreds of queries sent to the High Commission by Sri Lankan students. It provides a brief overview about the structure of higher education in India, eligibility conditions, courses available, and student visa procedures.
Mrs Anju Banerjee, Chairperson and Managing Director of EdCIL India Limited was also present at the occasion.
The High Commissioner also highlighted that the brochure included a glimpse of various scholarships offered by government of India. He said, since last year, the scholarship programme for higher studies in India was expanded by nearly three times. Ongoing schemes have been expanded and newer schemes have been added to offer about 290 slots annually, for which the Government of India is spending Sri Lankan Rupees 2.5 billion over a 3- year period. The scholarship programme now covers almost all conceivable areas.
Mrs Banerjee reaffirmed that the Education Fair would continue to be an annual feature and promised that next year too and the Fair would be taken to Jaffna and Kandy, so that students living in distant areas of the Island could also benefit from it.
Highlighting the range of services provided by EdCIL, a government of India enterprise, she said EdCIL would be most willing to offer its services to assist students of Sri Lanka.
While observing that more than 1,500 Sri Lankan students went to India every year for higher studies, Mrs Banerjee expressed the hope that the Fair would encourage even larger number of students to explore India as an attractive destination offering world class education at an affordable cost.