Colombo, July 13 (Xinhua): Fifteen Sri Lankan university students have been awarded scholarships by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to pursue higher studies on climatology and oceanography under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to strengthen educational ties between China and Sri Lanka.
The scholarships were handed over on Wednesday under the “Belt and Road” Master Fellowship Program. The program is run by the China-Sri Lanka Joint Center for Education and Research (CSL-CER), which is based in the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology of the CAS.
Out of the 15 students, three students have been awarded scholarships to pursue their PhD degree while the remaining 12 will pursue their master’s degree.
This is the third year that the CAS has awarded these scholarships to Sri Lankan university students.
The students this year are selected from the University of Ruhuna, the University of Peradeniya, the University of Sabaragamuwa, the University of Jaffna and the University of Wayamba.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Professor. Gamini Senanayake, vice chancellor of the University of Ruhuna, said it was vital that Sri Lankan students pursue their higher studies in oceanography, as Sri Lanka being an island country deepens mostly on its sea.
However, he said Sri Lanka lacked the human resources to explore the opportunities of the ocean.
As Sri Lanka also faced natural hazards such as heavy rains every year followed by strong winds, it was vital that Sri Lanka studied the ocean surrounding it, Senanayake said.
“Being a very friendly nation, China has always helped us in various fields and especially the Chinese Academy of Sciences has a very big programme ongoing with Sri Lanka. We thank them for that as it benefits our students,” Senanayake said.
Professor Mohan de Silva, Chairman of the University Grants Commission, said it was important for Sri Lankan students to pursue a higher education in marine sciences and oceanography, as it would benefit the island country.
“We are glad that the University of Ruhuna along with the CAS is taking efforts to develop this expertise in this country,” de Silva said.
Rivindu Vithana, a PhD student awarded the scholarship, said it was a great honour for her to be accepted to study in a prestigious Chinese university. She assured that she would use this opportunity diligently and with care to enhance her knowledge.
(The featured image at the top shows Chinese scientists on board the research vessel “Quan Sanqiang” making a presentation to Sri Lankan oceanographers and marine geologists in February 2017)