American National College Awards Night, Sri Lanka

Remarks by Charge d’Affaires James Moore at the American National College Awards Night – July 10, 2007

Mr. Jagath Alwis, Deputy Chairman, Ceylinco Education Group,
Dr. David Long, Chancellor of Northwood University,
Dr. Henry Wiebe Dean, School of Extended Learning, University of Missouri at Rolla, Faculty, Students, Parents, and Distinguished Guests:

Good evening. It is a pleasure to be here with you to participate in the American National College Awards Night.

I would like to start by congratulating — on behalf of the Embassy of the United States — Ceylinco Consolidated, ANC Education Holdings, Northwood University, and the University of Missouri at Rolla for their hard work and tremendous cooperation in coming together to make American National College a reality here in Sri Lanka.

Let me assure you that Ambassador Blake and all of us at the U.S. Embassy are committed to promoting educational exchange between our two great countries — and to making American-style education available to interested students here in Sri Lanka.

I would also like to warmly congratulate the students who are being recognized tonight for their achievements, including those students who will be the first-ever in Sri Lanka to be awarded a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northwood University.

Education is the greatest gift that a country can bequeath its citizens. Education is fundamental to personal growth, economic prosperity, political enfranchisement, and the development of societies. The dedication Sri Lanka has shown to elementary and secondary education has created a literacy rate of nearly 95% that is the envy of this region.

The American National College contributes to Sri Lanka’s efforts to expand opportunities for the kind of higher education that is needed to compete in the increasingly globalized economy of the twenty-first century.

Each year, largely due to capacity limitations, Sri Lanka’s universities are unable to offer places to 100,000 or more qualified Advanced Level graduates. Several thousand of them elect to go abroad. We at the Embassy are pleased that currently more than 2000 Sri Lankans are studying in American universities, and we are working hard to substantially increase that number. Why? Because there is no better way for the peoples of two countries to know one another better, to truly understand the other’s society and values, and to establish relationships that will last for a lifetime than through study abroad.

While the American National College does an outstanding job of preparing its students to transfer to – and succeed in – U.S. universities, it now also provides Sri Lankans an opportunity to remain in Sri Lanka and pursue an American higher education here, an education that will help prepare them to be competitive in the global marketplace.

I’ve been deeply involved in educational exchange throughout most of my 23 years as a diplomat. People often ask me: “What is so different about American higher education? What sets American universities apart?” The answer is simple.

While American-style education helps students develop the tangible skills they need for their professional development as future business leaders or scientists or lawyers, or journalists or in any other career, American education, particularly at the undergraduate level, also focuses on learning capacity. Professors in the American system educate the whole person by helping students learn how to learn.

American-style education promotes critical thinking, leadership, problem solving, independent thought, and effective communication through interactive instruction methods such as discussions, debates, teamwork activities, and community service projects. The goal is to develop the individual and make him or her passionate about learning, not just to prepare them for the next examination.

It is these qualities that attract students in Sri Lanka to the degree programs that are offered by the American National College.

Like Sri Lanka, the United States was once a developing nation and a former British colony. Broad access to our vibrant and adaptable educational system helped the United States transition from an agrarian to a manufacturing economy, and then to a modern service economy.

To expand Sri Lanka’s services sector, which already accounts for half of your country’s gross domestic product, we believe that young people must have access to diverse educational opportunities, such as those offered by the American National College, that develop cutting edge professional skills, while at the same time helping young men and women to grow as individuals.

Educational linkages between Sri Lanka and the United States, such as the ANC program, also play an important role in increasing understanding and friendship between our two countries. This is why the U.S. Embassy applauds the launch of the ANC University College, which offers degree programs from Northwood University and the University of Missouri and makes it possible, for those who choose to do so, to complete an American degree program entirely in Sri Lanka.

Let me close by again congratulating the students whom we are here to honor tonight for their achievements. I wish you every success – and continued learning and discovery throughout your lives.

Thank you very much.

[Courtesy: Embassy News, Colombo, Sri Lanka]

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