Jan 17, Colombo: India has awarded the prestigious Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship to 150 meritorious Sri Lankan students at a ceremony held Thursday.
At a ceremony organized at the Ministry of Education yesterday in the presence of Minister of Education Bandula Gunawardena and the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Y.K. Sinha, 150 students selected from each of the 25 districts on a merit-cum-means basis received the scholarships to complete their GCE Advanced Level studies.
Senior officials of the Education Ministry, principals of leading schools and parents of selected students also attended the ceremony.
The Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship awarded to Sri Lankan students for the seventh year in 2014 provide, as part of the scholarship, each student with a stipend of Rs. 48,000, spread over two years, at the rate of Rs. 2,000 per month to complete their A Level studies.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Gunawardena said India has extended assistance in the education sector in a number of areas, including providing support for teachers' training under scholarship basis in various educational institutes in India, helping Sri Lanka in curriculum development in subjects like science, mathematics, information technology, and collaborating in developing 5000 primary schools associated with 1000 secondary schools.
He thanked the High Commission and the Government of India for their valuable assistance and called the Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship as a blessing for Sri Lankan children.
Secretary to Education Ministry, Anura Dissanayake speaking on the occasion lauded the assistance provided under the Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship Scheme and noted that the prestigious scholarship has assisted several needy students to continue their studies and complete GCE Advanced 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 reach 150 students from the year 2012.
The High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Y.K. Sinha said the educational and cultural cooperation is an abiding feature of the bilateral relations between the two countries and India's effort has been to consistently improve and strengthen these relations.
Towards that endeavor, a major initiative was to nearly triple the number of scholarships offered.
"The recipients of the Mahatma Gandhi scholarship have excelled academically and would also hopefully show adherence to the ideals espoused by the Father of the Indian Nation," Sinha said.
He said it is encouraging to note that some of the past recipients of the scholarship have gone on to excel in their chosen fields of study at the undergraduate level and beyond. He expressed his conviction that these students would also spread Mahatma Gandhi's ideals of peace and non-violence.
The High Commissioner also stated that currently about 270 slots were available to Sri Lankan students for pursuing higher studies in India.
"India encourages the youth of Sri Lanka, for the development of whom we attach the utmost importance, to take full advantage of these scholarships offered every year. The spirit behind India's endeavors is what Mahatma Gandhi said stated several decades ago ... education for life, education through life, and education throughout life," he said.