Avinya Foundation

The Avinya Academy Graduates First Batch of Empower Program Students

Students Will Now Pursue Skills-based Professional Paths in Healthcare, Hospitality or IT

The Avinya Academy, Bandaragama, announced today the successful completion of its inaugural foundation program aimed at equipping and empowering less-privileged students to pursue thriving careers in skills-based professions.

The academy’s first batch of 113 students will graduate on August 4, 2023 and will be supported by our valued partners to pursue vocations in healthcare, hospitality or IT. The partners include Jetwing Hotels, Ministry of Crab, Amrak Institute of Medical Sciences, Back of Beyond and Hilton Hotels.

The academy was set up by the Avinya Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Sri Lanka, in January 2023, as part of a long-term strategy to uplift less-privileged students by giving them the foundational skills required to be successful in skills-based professions through vocational education and training. The Avinya Foundation’s Empower Program is a 6-month, full-time custom developed education program using project-based learning to give students 21st-century skills, focusing on collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication. It also focuses on building confidence, accountability, and employability skills. Through project-based teaching methodologies and instruction in English, the Foundation ensures that the learning experience throughout the Empower Program resonates with students, preparing them for real-world challenges and opportunities. Upon successful completion of  this program, students join a vocational education and training program in their selected profession to further pursue their passion and purpose.

“Our student-centered and project-based learning approach has revolutionized the way our students engage with education,” said Dinesha Senaratne, Head of the Empower Program at Avinya Foundation. “By placing the students at the center of the learning process and immersing them in real-world projects, we have witnessed a remarkable transformation in their enthusiasm, critical thinking abilities, and problem-solving skills. This approach empowers them to explore their interests, take ownership of their education, and pursue their goals with enthusiasm and determination.”

Anju Moses, Executive Director of Avinya Foundation, commenting on the impact of the program, said it has had transformative effects and has positively changed the lives of students. “It is truly rewarding to witness their journey of personal and professional growth, and we are committed to continuing to provide them with the tools and opportunities they need to thrive in the 21st-century job market,” she added.

Graduating students will receive an NVQ Level 1 Certification on Basic Competencies to Work and the STEM.org Accredited™ Educational Experience trustmark, highlighting the program’s quality and relevance.

“We are very proud of our inaugural batch of students who are completing the Avinya Empower Program. This achievement marks a significant milestone for our Avinya Academy in Bandaragama and reaffirms our commitment to providing less-privileged students with the skills and opportunities they need to succeed in a competitive job market,” said Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana, Founder and Chairman of Avinya Foundation. “Through our holistic approach to education and focus on essential skills, we are empowering these students to stand out, excel, and make a positive impact in their chosen fields. We believe that by bridging the employability gap, we can transform lives and contribute to the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka,” he added.

A typical day in the life of an Avinya student starts with them arriving in the academy by 7.30am. Their day is laid out as follows: breakfast, homeroom time with a dedicated educator, project-based learning time divided into two parts with a break in between, followed by lunch. After lunch all students actively engage in school duties, such as cleaning up of classrooms and all spaces, maintaining the campus garden, and inventory management of library books, kitchen supplies and crockery. They receive a daily stipend for working in the school and learn personal banking and budget management as well.

The program’s unique structure enables students to receive a holistic education experience, ensuring accountability and good work ethic are inbuilt both personally and professionally.

Avinya Seeks Support to Expand School Network

“The first batch of students were completely funded by Avinya Foundation, but going forward, we plan to ask students and their families to pay what they can afford so that money is not a barrier in ensuring they have the opportunity to succeed,” Weerawarana said.

The Avinya Foundation’s Bandaragama academy was established with seed funding provided by its Founder and Chairman. Now, the Foundation is actively seeking support to expand its school network and achieve its long-term goal of establishing an academy in each divisional secretariat across Sri Lanka. The Foundation aims to provide less privileged students from all corners of the country with unique opportunities to pursue skills-based professional pathways, instilling hope and confidence in them to achieve their life’s purpose.

To accomplish this vision, the Foundation seeks support in four key areas: leasing land for the establishment of future academies, securing funding for construction, covering operating expenditures, and forming partnerships for vocational education and job placements. These areas are crucial in ensuring students receive comprehensive training and clear career paths.

As part of its growth plans, the Foundation intends to introduce sponsor-a-student programs, offering opportunities for individuals and organizations to support deserving students. Avinya Foundation extends an invitation to well-wishers, individuals, and corporates to join hands in supporting the program’s expansion and the establishment of schools across all divisional secretariat areas.

“By investing in Sri Lanka’s skilled workforce, we have the potential to drive economic expansion and nurture self-reliance and resilience within the population. Through collaborative efforts and financial contributions, we can create a brighter future for Sri Lanka, empowering its youth and fostering sustainable growth,” added Weerawarana.

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 education in 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, one in each of the divisional secretariat areas. With the six-month course calendar cycle, each school will have a total of 240 students over a period of one year at full capacity. At full scale, the Foundation expects to provide opportunities to 20% of the over 16 student cohort each year to obtain a world-class alternative education pathway.

The members of the foundation are Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Dr. Tara de Mel, Anarkali Moonesinghe, Ashroff Omar, Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana, and Kasturi Chellerajah Wilson.