USAID – Asian Tribune PR

A ‘New Beginning for Vocational Education’ in Sri Lanka

Colombo, 23 June, (Asiantribune.com): For nearly twenty years, the burned-out police station in this southern coastal town has stood as a grim reminder of the devastating effect that widespread unemployment can have on youth.

Today, yellow tape surrounds the crumbling edifice as workers prepare to demolish the building to make way for a new training center that will provide the young people in the region with access to training that creates avenues to in-demand jobs and promote economic security and communal harmony.

The center at Koggala is among nine state-of the-art facilities to be built or reconstructed and equipped on the South and East coasts by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training and the Vocational Training Authority (VTA) as part of its Tsunami Reconstruction Program.

“Of all the initiatives by the United States to help Sri Lanka recover from the tsunami, promoting vocational training is in many ways our most important project,” said U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake at a ceremony marking the groundbreaking of the new facility. “These centers will help young people to become productive members of society by teaching skills in trades that lead to well-paying jobs, helping Sri Lanka grow into a more prosperous country.”

Also presiding at the ceremony was Minister for Vocational and Technical Training Priyasena Gamage, who said that of more than 200 vocational centers operating in Sri Lanka, this project will set new standards for training facilities in terms of equipment and curricula, which will include English language as well as Information and Communication Technology training.

“These schools are a new beginning for vocational education in Sri Lanka,” Minister Gamage said. “These centers will offer skills not currently available to youth in vocational training, and set a new standard to be sustained.”

The Koggala center will focus on the apparel industry, teaching not only sewing, but also training fabric cutters, quality control specialists, and supervisors. A strong knowledge base acquired at the center, coupled with high levels of performance, will afford workers a chance to work their way up the ranks in private sector facilities – offering an incentive to strive for excellence in productivity.

Other centers in Hikkaduwa, Ahangama, Tangalle, and Tallala in the South, and Nintavur, Central Camp, Kaluwachikudi, and Samanthurai in the East, will provide training in key sectors such as welding, electronics repair, masonry and carpentry, as well as English language and computer training.

Each center will offer its services tuition free and will graduate about 150 vocational specialists per year. Under the guidance of prime contractor CH2M Hill, two Sri Lankan firms, Access Engineering and Sierra Construction, will build the schools in the South and East, respectively.

Another unique aspect of the program is involvement of the new centers with the private and NGO sectors. The Joint Apparel Association Forum is providing support to the garment-oriented facilities, and Chevron to the mechanical-oriented centers. The American Joint Jewish Distribution Committee contributed funds for construction of the school in Hikkaduwa.

Last week, USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the VTA to operate the schools, ensure annual funding, staffing of qualified instructors, and implement curricula that make use of the facilities and commodities.

“USAID is committed to building and equipping the centers,” said USAID Mission Director Rebecca Cohn. “The Ministry and VTA have the more difficult task of effectively operating the centers for years to come.”

While all the schools will be built or rehabilitated according to high environmental and construction standards, two of the nine – Ahangama in the South and Samanthurai in the East – have been designed to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings, the first of their kind in Sri Lanka.

Established by the US-based Green Building Council, LEED is the certification of record for sound environmental design worldwide. A second school in the eastern schools package is also designed as a LEED “green” school.

“These schools will be centers of excellence,” said VTA Chairman Major General Thilak Ponnamperuma. “We expect that they will set a precedent for environmentally sound design in public buildings, as well as outstanding vocational training, all over Sri Lanka for years to come.”

The project is a key element of USAID’s $45.5 million Tsunami Reconstruction Program, which also includes construction of a new Arugam Bay Bridge, a water system in Pottuvil, and upgrade of tsunami-damaged fishing harbors in Hikkaduwa, Mirrisa, and Dondra.

US Ambassador Robert Blake (left) and Minister for Vocational and Technical Training Piyasena Gamage (right) unveil a plaque marking the start of construction US Ambassador Robert Blake (left) and Minister for Vocational and Technical Training Piyasena Gamage (right) unveil a plaque marking the start of construction

– Asian Tribune –
source:
http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/6249

1 Response to “USAID – Asian Tribune PR”


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