Benedict XVI Catholic Institution of Higher Education (BCI) opened in 2015. (Photo: YouTube)
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has expressed appreciation for the Catholic Church’s role in education in Sri Lanka.
He gave his tribute while praising the hard work and dedication of all those involved in the establishment and growth of Benedict XVI Catholic Institution of Higher Education (BCI) in Negombo.
"The service rendered by BCI is very much in keeping with the historical role played by the Catholic Church in educating the youth of this country through its island-wide network of schools since colonial times," said President Rajapaksa at the inauguration ceremony of registering the first batch of undergraduates on Jan. 15 in Negombo.
"I encourage you to redouble your efforts to develop this institution into an outstanding place of higher learning in Sri Lanka.
"Education is one of the cornerstones of the development of any nation. For Sri Lanka to progress, it is essential that our youth acquire the knowledge, skills and capabilities to compete on the global stage and adapt to ever-changing circumstances."
BCI was established in 2015 in honor of His Holiness Benedict XVI. Over 17,200 students have already successfully completed English language, information technology and vocational courses during the past six years.
The University Grant Commission has recognized it as a degree-awarding institution. The students now have the opportunity to pursue bachelor of business management and bachelor of information technology degree programs in English.
"I am aware that since its establishment under the guidance of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the BCI campus has been home to several thousands who have benefited tremendously from its diploma-level programs," said Rajapaksa.
"I recall with pleasure that I was able to contribute towards the construction of this campus in anticipation of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis in 2015 during my time as the secretary to the Ministry of Defense.”
After the event, President Rajapaksa, Cardinal Ranjith and the minister of education planted three sandalwood plants on the premises.
Mary Nuwangi, an English teacher, said priests and nuns from different parts of the country have dedicated their lives to education at primary, secondary and university level.
"Not only Catholics but Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus study at church-run educational institutions," said Nuwangi, who studied at Aquinas College of Higher Studies in Colombo.
Antony Sarath, who has studied at St. Joseph College, said many clerics have dedicated themselves to building the lives of students.
"We can still recommend the discipline and leadership under church-run schools. Increasing the use of religious leaders for higher education is a very important task in the country," said Sarath.