AIA Insurance’s Higher Education Scholarships Programme, now in its 26th consecutive year, rewards the top performers from each district at the Grade 5 scholarship examination, by giving them a monthly bursary from Advanced Level (A/L) class right up to the completion of their University degree. Started in 1994, the programme was initiated to lend a hand to Sri Lanka’s brightest and most promising students, as they are the future of our nation. What’s unique in this is process is that AIA scholarships do not require the winners’ parents to be an AIA Insurance customer, but awards are purely based on academic merit.
Dr. Harsha Subasinghe, President and Chief Executive Officer of CODEGEN and inventor of Sri Lanka’s first ever all-electric super car; the Vega, was the Chief Guest this year, joining an illustrious list of previous Chief Guests over the past 26 years, including Acharya Nanda Malini, Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaratunga, Prof. Carlo Fonseka, Kala Suri Arisen Ahubudu, Pandith W D Amaradewa, Prof. Daya Rohana Athukorala, Prof. J B Dissanayaka, Prof. Kusuma Karunarathne and Mr Jayalath Manorathna, to name a few, all of whom had inspirationally motivating messages to impart to the bright scholarship winners.
The parents and students who were present at the awards had the privilege of hearing about the many initiatives Dr. Subasinghe was involved in for the development of the country. But more importantly, the students were able to hear about the challenges he faced when trying to complete his university education and how his undeterred determination helped him overcome and achieve great heights. Having had to go to the UK to complete his studies, due to the volatile situation in the country at the time, he explained how hard he had to work to finance his living expenses and education.
He reminded the students of just how lucky they are to have the financial backing from a company like AIA to finish their education and asked them to value it immensely. “I wish I had the help you are getting to fund my own education at the time. I don’t think a lot of people realize the value of something like this.” He went on to stress the importance of giving back to the country and their parents who have worked so hard to educate them and closed with a request to the students, to make the most of this opportunity and change their lives for the better; “use this to change your life from today, because once you do, there’s nothing you need to fear.”
AIA’s CEO Nikhil Advani thanked everyone for being there; “This year is again like many a very special year of recognizing and rewarding some of the most brilliant students in our country. We are very pleased and proud to be supporting them on their next steps in their education. Unlike other scholarships, ours is based purely on academic merit and we are happy to be able to live up to our promise of helping people live healthier, longer, better lives by supporting the youth of Sri Lanka who will undoubtably contribute to society.”
It was also a very heartfelt moment when a scholarship winner spontaneously took to the stage to thank AIA; “I am forever grateful for AIA’s contribution which will go a long way in helping us achieve our academic and personal goals. I will never forget the support and generosity the company has shown us and I hope that AIA continues this so that other students like myself can continue to benefit in the years to come.”
So far, over 625 students have qualified for the AIA Higher Education Scholarships when they enter A/L. Many of them have gone on to reach top designations in various fields, including medicine, law and engineering.