Mahapola Scholarships Awarding Ceremony for the Undergraduates of the 2016/2017 academic year was held on 26th April 2018 at the Board Room of the Administration Building.
The occasion was led by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Sampath Amaratunge with the presence of the Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences; Prof. Surangi Yasawardene, Dean of the Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce; Dr. Anura U. Kymara. Also, the registrar Mr. Britto K. Gnanasiri and staff members of the Students welfare division of the university participated in the scholarship awarding ceremony.
The Mahapola Higher Education Trust Fund is operated by the Government of Sri Lanka. It was established by the Minister of Higher Education, Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali through the Mahapola Higher Education Scholarship Trust Fund Act No. 66 of 1981 to provide financial assistance to University students.
In this year Mahapola scholarships were awarded to 2071 undergraduates (2016/2017 academic year) of the University. Prof. Ameratunge addressing the gathering stated that he was also received Mahapola scholarship when he was an undergraduate of the University.
“This is a very special day, most of our students are not aware of the value this scholarship they are receiving.The original funds for The Mahapola Trust Fund were raised by Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali through a series of regional fairs held all around the country known as “Mahapola”. It was not an easy task, but he set about it and it has been developed to what it is today,” he said.
He further stated today this initial service rendered by Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali has been forgotten and that there are many students who look upon him with misplaced vehemence. He said that Mr. Laith Atulathmudali was a rare person with a keen foresight.
“Mr. Athulathmudali’s foresight led him to create a fund that benefits students all over the country, years have passed since this great feat but nothing else of this scale has been established for the benefit of students in the recent history. Therefore, it is your duty to value his contribution and respect him. He was indeed a great man and yet, he was so humble, he requested that the Mahapola Fund never be named after him,” He said.
Prof. Amaratunge also said that being a person who received this scholarship and having reached his current position, the fund has indeed helped him at a time of need as it had helped so many others.
“I was privileged enough to be asked to speak at the Lalith Athulathmudali Birth Anniversary Ceremony, I spoke about how it aided me and so many others, and today I speak to you, making you aware of the true value of this scholarship. You must always remember that the value of this scholarship cannot be measured by the amount you receive, because it is far greater than that,” He said.
He further advised these new students who have just entered the university saying that this free education system that is a gift to all students of Sri Lanka with the capacity to enter it through their performance is misguidedly regarded as a system-allocated only for the needy. It is not so, it is for the most intelligent of a group of intelligent youth. Treating it otherwise would bring about the end of intellectuals in the country and a disgrace to the service rendered by people such as Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali.
Dr. Anura Kumara in his address stated that though this message was given at the presence of a few representative students of each faculty, that it is their duty to communicate it to their peers.
“Treat this scholarship with great respect, we know that there are some who do not even bother to sign confirming the reception of the scholarship each month, there are instances of forgery, please note that this is not a way of respecting such a privilege. You have been given all these benefits by people you wished to provide their service to this country. Therefore, it is your duty to reap the benefits and in-turn provide your service to develop this country,” he said.