Avinya aims to bridge a gap in sri lanka’s education sector with vocational opportunities
Avinya Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Sri Lanka will unveil its first school in January as part of a long-term strategy to offer less-privileged students recognized, non-traditional and affordable vocational education programs.
The Avinya Academy Bandaragama, in partnership with Sarvodaya, will be the first of a planned network of schools, offering high-quality technical as well as social and soft skills that will support students who wish to pursue an alternative career path in specialized fields.
“Our aim is to guide and support students in their chosen vocational fields with an all-round learning experience that will help them to compete effectively in the employer market and ensure a valued professional future. We will give post-Ordinary Level exam students an alternative path to pursuing Advanced Level exams which can lead them directly to employment upon completion or have the option to continue further studies,” said Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana, Founder and Chairman of Avinya Foundation.
Commenting on the partnership and Avinya’s curriculum and learning model, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Director General of the Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning, said the program will offer students a well-rounded learning experience, with the aim to “mold holistically complete individuals.”
“Avinya Foundation’s vocational training isn’t just about gearing up an individual towards a profession. It also carries the responsibility of rendering a cultured citizen to society. The courses prioritize empowering professionals capable of maintaining respect among individuals, with admiration to a fair society and nature’s values, while being economical and energy efficient,” he added.
The three-year program will be conducted by Avinya’s team of education and industry professionals. It will start with the 6-month Avinya Empower program followed by a comprehensive curriculum that will include technical expertise as well as coaching, mentoring, and professional skills so students will be employment-ready. During the Empower program students will learn English, effective communication skills, digital literacy, analytical reasoning, creative thinking, leadership skills, entrepreneurial drive, and other 21st century skills that are critical to making an individual competitive in today’s marketplace through a project based learning approach. The Foundation will also facilitate internships and apprenticeships as part of the education program and assist with employment placements for all graduates. During the program, all students are expected to work on campus in various roles and will be compensated for that work.
Students will be required to pay to attend the Avinya Academy. However, every student will be given means-tested financial assistance, thereby ensuring equal opportunity for less-privileged students to pursue higher education. In addition to the initial seed funding provided by the Weerawarana Foundation, the Avinya Foundation will raise funds and work with various donors to build the schools network and to bridge student fees.
Customized Programs Focused on Technical and Professional Skills
Each Avinya Foundation academy will admit 120 post-Ordinary Level students each year in the age range of 17-18 years. Upon completion of the Empower program, students will undergo a comprehensive vocational education program in a selected vocational area of study, continuously augmented with essential professional and soft skills learning. The Bandaragama Academy will offer vocational programs in IT, Hospitality and Healthcare. Some vocational programs will be offered with partnerships and others engaged in such training.
The network of Avinya Academies will be fully digitally operated and centrally managed by the Foundation. The design and layout of each academy will be based on a unique concept of open and collaborative spaces that will give students a learning environment to inspire creativity, suitably adapted to the local environment of each academy. All program designs, curriculum material and source code will be shared openly for anyone to use freely, either in Sri Lanka or elsewhere, as Avinya Foundation’s goal is to encourage anyone to deliver more education opportunities to students everywhere.
The execution of programs and administrative operations of the Academy will be managed by a team of specialists with varied backgrounds and professional experience. They include, Anju Moses (Executive Director), Samisa Abeysinghe (Chief Technology Officer), Nihara Nanayakkara (Head of Operations), Lakshman Piyasena (Head of Communications) and Dinesha Senaratne (Head of the Empower Program). The Board Members of the Avinya Foundation are Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana (Chairman), and Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne with Jivaka Weeratunge as Consultant on Corporate Development and Strategy.
“At a time when Sri Lanka’s education system is struggling to emerge from crises induced by the pandemic and the economic meltdown, Avinya brings in a breath of fresh air to less-privileged students. Enabling opportunities for career-focused, vocational education and training using modern pedagogical methods based on 21st century skills, and in the English medium, holds much promise for future generations.” said Dr. Tara de Mel, education specialist and one of the six members of the Avinya Foundation.
About Avinya Foundation
Established in 2022, Avinya Foundation (Gte) Ltd is a not-for-profit organization providing economically disadvantaged children an opportunity to become professionals via the alternative path of world-class vocational education combined with 21st century life skills.
The vision of the Foundation is to establish a network of schools around the country to provide geographically-accessible opportunities to students all around the country. With the three-year calendar cycle, each school will have a total of 360 students at full capacity. The eventual goal is to have a network of such schools across Sri Lanka, providing geographically accessible education, to anybody that wants it, across the island. At full scale, the Foundation expects to provide opportunities to 10% of the student cohort each year to obtain a world-class vocational education directly after the Ordinary Level exams, as an alternative to pursuing Advanced Level programs.
The members of the foundation are Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Dr. Tara de Mel, Anarkali Moonesinghe, Ashroff Omar, Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana, and Kasturi Chellerajah Wilson.