The girls in the room at Xstream SEO in Vavuniya stand up hesitantly when we enter the room. Their initial shyness is quickly gone and they share their stories, plans and hopes for their future. The young girls belong to the Don Bosco Home and Vocational Training Centre in Vavuniya. “When I came to Don [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Now they can look to the future without fear

For many young men and women affected by the war in the north and east, the new SLGTI is another stepping stone to better their lives

Dushyanthan Jayaratnam with his trainees

The girls in the room at Xstream SEO in Vavuniya stand up hesitantly when we enter the room. Their initial shyness is quickly gone and they share their stories, plans and hopes for their future. The young girls belong to the Don Bosco Home and Vocational Training Centre in Vavuniya.

“When I came to Don Bosco, I didn’t have anything. I had lost my family and my home. The war had taken everything away from me and I had no hope for my future,” explains one young girl. “But today I’ve found a family with the Sisters of Don Bosco and all the other girls at the centre, completed my vocational training in ICT and I’m receiving on-the-job-training (OJT) at Xstream SEO. I feel that the past few years have given me my life back,” explains another young girl.

Run by Don Bosco nuns, this vocational training centre has 19 orphaned girls all of whom are currently studying ICT up to NVQ Level 4 at the centre, and receive lessons on cooking, sewing and other social skills from the nuns. The vocational training programme at the centre is facilitated by the GIZ Vocational Training in the North and East of Sri Lanka (VTN) project.

The VTN project is implemented by the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka with financial assistance through The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the German Development Bank (KfW) and technical support from the GIZ. The main objective of the VTN is setting up a new vocational training institute in Kilinochchi – the Sri Lankan-German Training Institute (SLGTI) which will provide vocational education and training to meet the needs of the labour market. The SLGTI is a national level state of art vocational training institution with exceptionally equipped classrooms, work spaces, labs and facilities.

The Institute, which will open next week, connects 14 satellite centres scattered throughout the North and East of Sri Lanka, offering students a chance to further their vocational education up to NVQ level 6 at the SLGTI. These centres are run by the Vocational Training Authority (VTA), National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Don Bosco and ORHAN (Organization for Rehabilitation of the Handicapped) and provide Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) up to NVQ level 3 and 4.

Dushyanthan Jeyaratnam is one of the technical trainers in the automobile department at the NAITA training centre in Kilinochchi. Together with Kirubakaran Katheeshan, a former graduate of NAITA Kinniya who returned home to Kilinochchi after working at DIMO in Anuradhapura, Jeyaratnam teaches automobile repairs to the students. Not just giving them the technical know-how but also instilling values of discipline, punctuality and professionalism.

“After the initial training period at the training centre, the students go on to OJT placements around the country with companies like DIMO, Sampath Motors and Swami Motors, with many of our students finding employment immediately upon completing their NVQ certification. To-date about 100 students have passed out since the centre was launched,” explains Jeyaratnam.

“After getting my certificate I want to help develop my father’s automobile business,” explains Abheshan, one of the students at the NAITA Kilinochchi. “One of my friends said this was a good place to learn automobile technology and I’ve learned a lot already.”

Madushan Udayarajan leaves home at 3.30 a.m. every day to make it to Kilinochchi in time for lessons to start. But the four-hour commute won’t stop him from completing his training. “I leave home early at about 3.30 a.m. and it’s usually about 8 p.m. when I get back. It’s not easy but the education and the opportunities that are available to me here make it worth the while. I wanted to learn and this was the best place to come to,” he claims.


Twenty-two year old Fathima Sheriff studies computer graphic designing at the NAITA Kinniya, despite receiving a university placement. “My home is in Polonnaruwa but NVQ level 4 certification isn’t available there so I came here,” she explains.

Even though she comes from a conservative background, her family has supported her dreams of getting a further education she says.  Fathima is confident that the sky is her limit. “After getting my NVQ level 4 qualification I want to join the SLGTI and study up to live 6. Maybe I can even get a degree or study abroad after that. I chose graphic designing because I think it’s a good profession and one that has a lot of opportunities. I can see myself going far in this career,” she adds.

The NAITA Kinniya has many success stories. Currently, many of the past students are pursuing higher qualifications at the College of Technologies in Colombo, Jaffna and Batticaloa. “Some of them have found employment in the Middle East and many of them are either working in the local government in Trincomalee or have started their own businesses,” explains  Faroos Salam, the manager for NAITA Kinniya. “About 97% of our students who’ve gone on to study at the University of Technology in Colombo have been female. Most of them are Muslim and it’s incredible to see the support they receive from their husbands and families.”

For many, vocational training is considered to be a second option: one to fall back on, if they don’t gain entrance into a university. But for the young men and women at these vocational training centres, it has been a beacon of hope guiding them towards a brighter future.

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