The first batch of 200 young girls and boys living in the Batticaloa District began their vocational training at The Marvell Sarvodaya Vocational Training Centre immediately the day after the centre was officially opened in Satturukondan on Wednesday 23rd January 2008. The centre, which was ceremonially opened by Dr. A.T.Ariyaratne, Founder of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, is considered to be one of the most prestigious centres for training in vocational skills built in the eastern and northern province.
Among the courses on offer are motor-bike repair & maintenance, aluminium fabrication, carpentry, masonry, computer hardware and agricultural machinery repair and maintenance. The range of courses will, in addition to providing marketable vocational skills among the unemployed youth of the East, enhance their self-employment prospects.
One of the key features at the Centre will be the centre’s link with the Eastern University. Commenting on the collaboration, the Vice Chancellor welcomed the construction of a modern and spacious building which has included training in agricultural skills as part of its vocational training programmes. Farming and farming related activities is the chief form of employment in the district. “Providing hands-on training in agricultural skills will widen the scope of opportunities to interested students, the VC said.
The Marvell Sarvodaya Centre which consists of five individually designed buildings spreads over a 27 acre block of land and has adequate grounds for cultivation. “Some of our children failed to be admitted to the Department of Agriculture at the Eastern University. Their grades were not good enough. This centre will give them a wonderful opportunity to take up to cultivation and become farmers. We will be more than happy now to hand over our small piece of land to our children,” said one parent.
The construction of the centre was funded by The Marvell Charitable Fund of the USA and Give2Asia, a US based non-profit organization established by The Asia Foundation to promote philanthropy to Asia. The World University Services of Canada provided the furniture for the classrooms and will fund the training facilities. Prior to the construction of the building, Sarvodaya conducted its vocational training programmes at their small district Educational Development Centre. Speaking to Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Executive Director of Sarvodaya, he explained how Sarvodaya’s Village Development Programme will enable the students to interact and enjoy fellowship with other communities of the district. “Sarvodaya’s significant presence in the North and East has enabled the youth of these areas to be actively involved in community development work,” said Ariyaratne.
Communities from almost 80 villages in the district gathered at the ceremonial opening to welcome the Guest of Honour on this occasion, the Ambassador of The United States of America, Mr. Robert Blake Jnr. Speaking on this occasion, Ambassador Blake was pleased that the centre will serve as a training centre for language learning (Oral Tamil for Sinhala speakers, Oral Sinhala for Tamil speakers and English), which he said would open new channels for cooperation and understanding, employment and peace building among the communities.