'Enrichment of human potential one of cornerstones of programmes between Australia & Sri Lanka' says Prof. Peiris at Australian Awards ceremony

Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs paid tribute to the government of Australia for the Australia Awards (AA) international scholarships and fellowships programme funded by the Australian Government, speaking as Chief Guest at the Australia Awards Ceremony held at the Cinnamon Lakeside hotel on Thursday evening, 5th December 2013. The Minister appreciated the Awards programme that had provided substantial benefits to Sri Lanka by offering opportunities for students to undertake postgraduate studies in Australia.

Briefly noting the evolution of programmes between Australia and Sri Lanka, the Minister noted that People to People contact stood out as one of the many benefits of the relations between the two countries and drew attention to programmes such as the Colombo Plan, that had rendered “yeomen service to the country” in agricultural projects, transport and other priorities at that time. Prof. Peiris noted the new Colombo plan approach with continual emphasis on educational programme was commendable and remarked that “the enrichment of human potential was one of the cornerstones of the programme that Australia offered Sri Lanka” and welcomed new initiatives where Australians were encouraged to travel and study in Asia, as well as Sri Lanka. Under the new programme 61 Australian students are presently studying in Sri Lanka.

The Minister noted that the two countries had a “rich and a deep relationship that straddled so many different sectors” and there was a exciting relationship in the business sector between Australian and Sri Lankan companies, highlighting that in the recently concluded CHOGM Business Forum, there was significant presence of Australian companies and entrepreneurs and Sri Lanka was eager to follow through on substantial interest shown in several projects. He also noted the extensive cooperation with regard to security, navy and monitoring of sea- lanes in the Indian Ocean and the vigorous engagement at the recent Galle Dialogue. Prof. Peiris was pleased to note that 38 Sri Lankan students would have the opportunity to study in Australia in 2014 and that since the programme’s inception, 1000 Sri Lankan students had benefited from the programme. He acknowledged that many of these Sri Lankans had continued to contribute as teachers, academics and professors in Australia, as well as Sri Lanka.

Prof. Peiris also appreciated the role that the AA alumni played in helping new students in the programme and noted that this social interaction provided a valuable aspect of the programme to share experiences and network. In closing, to wish the students leaving Sri Lanka for studies under the Awards programme, the Minister drew attention to the fact that at a particular time when Sri Lanka had emerged from the shadow of protracted conflict and accelerating the social and economic development of the country, its human resource was among the most valuable resource; and therefore Australian assistance to refine and develop it was deeply appreciated and the most relevant to contemporary Sri Lanka.
Speaking at the ceremony, Her Excellency Robyn Mudie, High Commissioner to Sri Lanka noted that education was the flagship of the Australian Government development corporation program across the world. The High Commissioner highlighted the myriad of benefits that was offered for students embarking on the Awards programme and noted the recognition that Australia was among a leading provider of education with 10 percent of its universities ranking in the world’s top 100 leading universities and was pleased to note that Sri Lanka’s distinguished alumni ranged from Secretaries to the Cabinet, Secretaries of Ministries, Professionals from both public and private sectors, that were playing an important role in the national development agenda of Sri Lanka. Mrs. Indrani Sugathadasa, Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Insurance Board, an Australia Awards alumni spoke on behalf of the Australian Awards Alumni Association and gave an overview of the activities of and planned work of the Association. Edward Archibald, Counsellor of AusAID and Peter Nolan, Counsellor of Education and Science of the Australian High Commission in New Delhi also spoke at the occasion on the Australian Awards programme and Sri Lanka’s involvement.

Ministry of External Affairs

http://www.mea.gov.lk/index.php/en/component/content/article/39-ministry-news/4355-enrichment-of-human-potential-one-of-cornerstones-of-programmes-between-australia-a-sri-lanka-says-prof-peiris-at-australian-awards-ceremony

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