U.S. Government expands scholarship program for young journalists
Mar 5, 2010
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the expansion of its scholarship program to bring youth to study at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism. U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Valerie Fowler made the announcement at the Sri Lanka Press Institute Diploma Program graduation ceremony.

USAID, the development agency of the U.S. government, is providing scholarships for 26 students to attend the one-year Journalism Diploma Program in 2010. The Program focuses on radio, television, or print media. Courses are conducted in Sinhala, Tamil, and English, and all students receive English language instruction. Current USAID scholarship recipients represent Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim communities from the Eastern Province (12 students) and the Northern Province (14 students).

In addressing the graduates, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Valerie Fowler said, “As journalists, you are duty-bound to be defenders of democratic rights and values. In the modern era, the press has played a critical role as one of the pillars of democracy. Apart from the traditional three bodies of government in a democracy --- legislative, judicial, and executive --- the media has acted as a kind of fourth branch, helping to ensure the traditional arms of the government remain honest and serve the people. Because the media serves as a purveyor of the truth and a watchdog of the public interest, media protects and promotes our democratic rights and values. Media demands that our leaders operate in an environment of transparency and fairness. If not, the media is there to tell the truth and expose injustices, all for the sake of preserving and protecting our rights. This is true in any democratic country.”

In 2009, USAID provided scholarships for 14 students from the Eastern Province and two students from Monaragala District in Uva Province. As a condition of the scholarship, USAID scholarship recipients will return to their home districts or provinces to work as journalists after receiving their diplomas. This will strengthen regional reporting and ensure journalists are well-trained and prepared to cover important stories that are of interest to local and national audiences.

The Diploma in Journalism Program is conducted by the Sri Lanka Press Institute through their educational arm, the Sri Lanka College of Journalism. Since 2004, the program has produced about 60 graduates per year with a 97% job placement rate in print and electronic media.

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided development and humanitarian assistance in developing countries worldwide for nearly 50 years. Since 1946, USAID/Sri Lanka has invested nearly $2 billion to benefit all the people of Sri Lanka.

Courtesy: US Embassy