USAID completes two vocational education schools

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) yesterday marked the completion of the first two out of nine new vocational education schools in Southern and Eastern Sri Lanka, built with funds provided by the American people as part of USID’s Sri Lanka Tsunami Reconstruction Programme.


“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,” U.S. Ambassador Blake said at the opening ceremonies. “Training young people in the trades will help to provide good paying jobs in the near term, and will help boost both family income and economic opportunities in Sri Lanka.” The schools in Koggala and Hikkaduwa will teach trades in high demand by the Sri Lankan workforce, such as apparel, masonry, plumbing, welding, carpentry and IT. In all, the two schools can accommodate over 700 students. Tuition will be free of charge. In addition to constructing the buildings themselves, USAID and several private sector partners will also supply the schools with all necessary items such as furniture, tools, sewing machines and other commodities to make them fully functional. Together with its contractors, Access International and CH2MHill, USAID is developing the school programme in partnership with the Vocational Training Authority (VTA) under the aegis of the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training. USAID has worked closely with the VTA, in consultation with Sri Lanka’s private sector, to develop the curricula for the schools. The project’s success is in part due to the model public-private partnership it has put in place, which includes the American Joint Jewish Distribution Committee, Chevron Corporation, Prudential, the Mellon Foundation and the Joint Apparel Association Forum. As a result of this partnership and collaboration with the Sri Lankan Government, the vocational education schools in Koggala and Hikkaduwa are now complete and ready to train the next generation of Sri Lanka’s tradesmen and women.