Sri Lanka exploring establishing higher education institutes in Maldives

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (L) and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (R) pose for pictures at the President's Office on September 2, 2019. (Photo/President's Office)

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has announced plans to establish branches of Sri Lankan higher education and training institutes in Maldives.

Wickremesinghe arrived in Maldives on an official visit this Monday.

He made the announcement regarding plans to establish branches of Sri Lankan training institutes in Maldives in a joint press conference with Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih this Monday afternoon.

He said that Sri Lankan officials were working on examining the arrangements required to bring the plan into effect.

In his statement, Wickremesinghe noted that Maldivians considered Sri Lanka their second home, noted the high population of Maldivian students in Sri Lanka.

He said that that the Sri Lankan government will working on expanding educational opportunities for Maldivian students, not just in Sri Lanka, but in Maldives as well.

He voiced his commitment to allowing concessions to Maldivian citizens who visit Sri Lanka for education, healthcare, and other purposes.

“The visa arrangements have also been liberalized to allow to allow more students to come in to Sri Lanka and for Maldivians to come in to Sri Lanka. I know Sri Lanka is your second home. I would certainly like to see unnecessary travel restrictions, all these travel restrictions faced by Maldivians [lifted],” said Wickremesinghe.

Wickremesinghe, in his speech thanked the Maldivian government for its support in the wake of the Easter terror bombings in April.

“It is in this that we recognize that terror is a threat to all of us. And that we shall work together in combatting terrorism. We need much closer cooperation,” he said.

He also noted the need for greater efforts to combat climate change.

“We are with you on climate change. You feel this, you started discussing it first. Not us. You felt climate change first. We are also feeling climate change. As the weather patterns change, as there are longer droughts, and there are more frequent floods,” said Wickremesinghe.

He also stressed the need to establish peace in the Indian Ocean region.

“Peace and freedom means development,” said Wickremesinghe.

He said the four agreements exchanged between Maldives and Sri Lanka this Monday will be reviewed, and engagements between the two countries further strengthened in the coming days.