The government is collaborating with the Californian university system to obtain assistance to modernize agriculture in Sri Lanka and to set up a new agro-technology university, said President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
He said this yesterday (16) while addressing the 70th anniversary of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission Program held at the Oak Room of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo.
He said that the government discussed with a group of Singaporean investors yesterday the supply of food for island nations and Middle East countries which lack their food resources. He said that this was only the start and he issued instructions to find the land for it and modernize agriculture. He said that Fulbright alumni such as Prof Pradeepa Bandaranaike are vital assets in modernizing agriculture. He added that the new agro-technology university will be combined with the Tea Research Institute (TRI), among others, to work with some of the American institutions on how to upgrade research in Sri Lanka.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe also said that the government is focusing on improving English language education within the next ten years. He added that he hoped to obtain assistance for training teachers and trainers from the US counterparts for this ambitious project. The President assured the initiation of this project and said Sri Lanka will depend on the Fulbright scholarships and assistance to bring down counterparts from America.
President Wickremesinghe said that the foundation for the friendly relations between the two countries is the educational exchange program, especially the binational Fulbright exchange program between Sri Lanka and the United States. “We have had about 3000 scholars from Sri Lanka and America who typified the exchange of knowledge and professional development that has benefitted both nations. And they have made a big impression on Sri Lanka. They have enriched our society and made our culture so much more vibrant.”
He said the two countries were celebrating 70 years of formal education exchanges in Sri Lanka. He added that the exchange goes back much further. The first exchange was when the American missionaries came to Jaffna and the imprint is still there. The second was when Colonel Henry Olcott came to Sri Lanka. That’s another imprint both in Sri Lanka and to a lesser extent in the USA. The next in the 20th century was when President Woodrow Wilson, declared the 14 points which also guaranteed independence to the colonial states.
The President further noted that it was followed during World War II by the four freedoms given by President Roosevelt. “So, Sri Lanka gained independence out of that war. Sri Lanka and the U.S. had strong links during World War II and became independent nations, on which the two countries have built those relations.
He further said that relations between the two countries are not only based on education and culture but also on economic assistance and political issues where both stood on the same side, Science, technology and many other areas.
U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung and Executive Director of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission Sandarshi Gunawardena also spoke on the occasion Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha, Parliamentarian Harsha de Silva, Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake, University Grants Commission Chairman Prof Sampath Amarathunga, Chancellor of the North-western University Prof. Udith Jayasinghe, Chancellor of the Jayawardenapura University Prof. Sudantha Liyanage and Chancellor of the Ruhuna University Prof Sujeewa Amarasena also participated.