As part of assisting Sri Lankan government to develop its human resources, India yesterday announced a substantial increase in its educational assistance, amounting to Rs. 2.5 billion in grant-funding, to assist meritorious Sri Lankan students.
"I am confident that the expanded scholarship programme will go a long way in further cementing our educational ties," India External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said in Galle today announcing the new measure under the "India-Sri Lanka Knowledge Initiative."
Under this programme, scholarships and self-financing slots for undergraduate, masters and doctorate-level courses will be increased to nearly 270 per year, Krishna said.
"This marks a three-fold increase, and includes 120 slots for undergraduate courses, 25 seats for IT engineering, 50 slots for Masters-level courses, and 40 slots for a highly-subsidized self-financing scheme," the Minister said.
The increased support will every year cover an additional 500 students who are pursuing their GCE 'A' level and University degrees in Sri Lankan institutions.
Several schemes under the Initiative, launched by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2010, would cover various categories of beneficiaries, ranging from school students to university researchers and teachers.
The two leaders had agreed that India would expand its scholarship programme in Sri Lanka to assist scholars not only in regular undergraduate studies but also to pursue higher research.
India has added a new programme 'Maulana Azad Scholarship Scheme' to the knowledge initiative programme to provide 50 scholarships for researchers, including scholars employed in Sri Lankan universities to pursue Masters Degrees in the fields of Agriculture, Science and Engineering in Indian institutes.
The new 'Rajiv Gandhi Scholarship Scheme' initiated with a view to share the benefits of India's growth story in the field of IT, will provide 25 slots annually for BE courses in IT in some top-ranked institutes in India, an Indian High Commission statement said.
Slots under the "Nehru Memorial Scholarship Scheme", are being doubled to 120 per year to provide scholarships for students pursuing undergraduate courses in Engineering, Science, Business, Economics, Commerce and Humanities while slots for studies in Medicine, Dental Science, Pharmacy and under the highly subsidized 'Self-Financing Scheme', which requires the student to pay a fee of less than US$ 1,000 per year, have been doubled to over 40.
India has also decided to select 150 deserving students, six from each district of Sri Lanka, for monthly monetary support for two-year duration under the 'Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship Scheme' to complete the GCE A/Level.
The Corpus fund of the Ceylon Estate Workers Education Trust (CEWET) has also been doubled to support the education of over 350 poor students from the upcountry areas. The fund will pay a monthly stipend for a period of 2 to 5 years, to enable them to complete their GCE 'A' level or university degrees.
Foreign Minister Krishna was optimistic that the expanded scholarship programme would benefit all segments of Sri Lankan society, ranging from school students to university researchers and teachers. He also expressed the hope that the expanded scholarship programme in Sri Lanka will go a long way in further cementing educational ties between India and Sri Lanka, the High Commission said.