AIA Insurance’s Higher Education Scholarships Programme, now in its 25th 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.
Sri Lanka’s veteran songstress Acharya Nanda Malini was the Chief Guest this year, joining an illustrious list of previous Chief Guests over the past 25 years, including 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.
Nanda Malini shared her life story with the students in an awe-inspiring talk of overcoming challenges and forging ahead with determination and courage, until one achieves their full potential. She shared the hurdles and setbacks she faced on her journey and enthused on the importance of pursuing dreams with passion and resolve. She also encouraged students to ‘not be kites’ and float away but rather to study hard so one day you can give back to your motherland.
AIA’s CEO Nikhil Advani thanked everyone for being there; “The students here today are the best of the best in the country. Unlike other scholarships, ours is based purely on academic merit. In that sense, we are delighted to lend this support, so you don’t have to worry about finances and can focus fully on your studies and reach your full potential as a well-rounded individual who can contribute to society.”
He also advised the parents of the students, “As parents we tend to sacrifice everything for our children. But I would urge you to stay focused on being healthy so you can take care of yourself and your family…so you can continue to enjoy every other success and milestone your children will have… make sure that in addition to planning your children’s future, you also plan your own physical and financial wellbeing.”
It was a heartfelt moment when a scholarship winner spontaneously took to the stage to thank AIA; “I am grateful for AIA’s contribution which will go a long way in helping us achieve our academic and personal goals. I hope that AIA continues this generous effort so that other students such as myself can continue to benefit in the years the come.”
So far, 625 students have qualified for the AIA Higher Education Scholarship when they enter A/L and 475 students have already started receiving the bursary. Many of them have gone on to reach top designations in various fields, including medicine, law and engineering.