Ambassador Jayatilleka and Eleonora Mitrofanova, Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, discuss educational cooperation
On February 7, 2019 Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka paid a courtesy visit to Her Excellency Eleonora Mitrofanova, Head of the Russian Federal agency for international humanitarian cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo), Ambassador at large, and the first woman to be appointed First Deputy Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Russia. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka was accompanied by his spouse, Madame Sanja Jayatilleka. The Russian side was also represented by Mr. Yuri Metelev, Deputy Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, and Ms. Olga Filonova, Deputy Head of the Department of Cooperation in Education and Science.
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka and Mrs. Eleonora Mitrofanova have known each other from the times when both of them were permanent delegates of their respective countries to UNESCO, which was between 2011 and 2013. Her Excellency served in that capacity in UNESCO until 2016. In 2009-2011, she was elected Chairman of the Executive Board of UNESCO, and in 2011-2012, Mrs. Mitrofanova was Chairperson of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
The parties discussed educational and cultural cooperation between Sri Lanka and the Russian Federation in a larger context of today’s political and economic global metrics. Despite the changes that have affected the whole system of international politics in the recent years, the relationships between Sri Lanka and Russia have remained warm and friendly. Russia is still attracting many students with open minds, eager to receive education in some of the best universities of the world. Traditionally, many Sri Lankan students come to Russia for that purpose, and the number of state-funded scholarships granted to Sri Lanka by the Russian Federation increased from 32 in 2017 to 40 in 2018. Understandably enough, the number of those applying is even higher.
It was brought up during the discussion, that free education is not the only option to be considered in Russia. Some of the top Russian universities have partnership programs with the best universities in Europe and other countries, which allows their students to receive two diplomas upon the completion of their education, and that at a cheaper cost. Russian Higher School of Economics is one of such universities with partnership programs. Traditionally, Russia trains many future medical doctors from Sri Lanka, but other specialties may also be of significant interest, for example, new specialists for the booming tourist industry. The hospitality faculty of the North Caucasus University in Russia provides the best education and practice opportunities for students from Russia and other parts of the world.
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Madame Sanja Jayatilleka, Mrs. Eleonora Mitrofanova, and her Russian colleagues agreed that there are vast opportunities for developing valuable cooperation between Sri Lanka and Russia in the sphere of education. This goal may be achieved by arranging presentations of the best Russian universities in Sri Lanka, and supporting relevant awareness programs, so that the new generations of young people in Sri Lanka would have the way to make their own choices, having explored the world of ideas for themselves, and seeing what may be a new perspective for them. Rossotrudnichestvo pledged to implement such projects in the nearest future, having the full support of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation.