STRENGTH THROUGH EDUCATION – Dhiriya convocation.

Dhiriya the MJF Center for Education & Vocational Training, a collaboration of MJFCF and Dilmah distributor, Gourmet Foods, Poland which was initiated in 2007 has come a long way gaining great achievements. The Dhiriya center is located in Siyambalanduwa, a small, dry zone, agricultural town impoverished in socio- economic and educational spheres. MJFCF with the support of Gourmet Foods, Poland extended educational and vocational training to the children and youth of the area. Whilst offering special classes in Mathematics, Science, English and IT for school going children the center offers Diploma studies in IT, and professional dress making for young adults who have completed with their education or stopped schooling after the GCE Ordinary Level / Advanced Level Examinations.

Currently over 300 children and young adults are benefiting from the programme. Most of the youth who were given vocational training have gained employment with the completion of their course. The second Convocation of the Dhiriya Center was held on the 26th of June 2010. Since the initial convocation was also held on the 26th of June, in the previous year, the MJFCF will attempt to organize the event on the same day annually.

Around 300 students attended the event along with the teachers and instructors of the Dhiriya Center. The Grama Niladhari, Deputy Divisional Secretary, the second in command priest of the Buddhist Temple and Mr. Dharmasiri Rathnayaka, Director – National Youth Services Council – Siyambalanduwa attended the ceremony. The Principal, Rev. Pastor Nishanka – the Chief of AOG Church in Siyambalanduwa and the Head Teacher of the Dhiriya Center, Chaminda Kumara addressed the gathering. The past pupils of the 2008/2009 batch also spoke at the ceremony.

At the previous year’s convocation Dilhan C. Fernando challenged the students to conduct the ceremony also in English and at this year’s convocation most of the students conducted their speeches in English. They were encouraged to conduct the entire ceremony in English next year.

English made mandatory at Dhiriya – Siyambalanduwa extended 5 new classes exclusively for English. 3 New teachers were recruited for this purpose.

IT and sewing diploma certificates were awarded and three sewing machines were awarded to the three best students who underwent the sewing and dressmaking diploma. Thirty diplomates graduated in IT and fifty diplomates graduated in Sewing. Most of them are employed in Government and few private institutions in the area.

One of the students was able to gain entrance into the Science Faculty to further his education in the field of IT due to the Certificate that was given by MJFCF at the 2008/2009 convocation.

A special scholarship programme is in place for the Dhiriya Students. Eight students who have got through their ordinary level examinations with good results were awarded with 2 years scholarship to complete their Advance Level.

The official handing over of the modified three wheeler keys to a disabled soldier who lost both his legs last year due to the war, was held at the ceremony. This was an initiation under the Small Entrepreneur Programme.

The students were presented with three challenges in English, IT and Mathematics. They were given a Maths formula to solve and for IT the students were challenged to create a PowerPoint presentation and as the challenge in English they were told to write an essay on “Sri Lanka, an amazing country, with a rich heritage and diversity- my country, my responsibility.” They have to be prepared to present their results in September 2010.

The Dhiriya center has proved to be successful and in the second phase of the educational projects, MJFCF will award tertiary education scholarships to the students who excel in their examinations in the future too. Furthermore, vocational training diploma in electronics, motor mechanism, welding will be incorporated in to the curriculum of the Dhiriya center mainly focusing on the disabled and male students with an intention also to provide these students with Livelihood Support under SEP.

This project is strengthened by Ethical Tea Society member Gourmet Foods, Poland. Dilmah Global Family gets the opportunity to partner with the foundation in providing livelihood, education, childcare and healthcare for the impoverished by being members of the ETS. The Ethical Tea Society encourages the global family to make business a matter of human service by empowering the underprivileged communities.

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