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* U.S. government provides 750 scholarships to Sri Lankan youth in the East and North
Tue, Mar 23, 2010, 08:49 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 23, Jaffna: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has recently awarded 750 scholarships in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to youth in the North and East.

A U.S. Embassy press release said the scholarships presented to 500 youth in the North and 250 in the East will provide the recipients with the skills needed to meet current workforce demands.

USAID, in a partnership with Microsoft's Unlimited Potential Partnership (UPP) program, has developed computer-based ICT curricula to address the workforce needs in the agriculture, apparel, media, and tourism sectors.

Rebecca Cohn, USAID Mission Director said, these four sectors account for about 39% of all jobs in Sri Lanka, and ICT skills are critical to succeeding in these areas.

"These scholarships from USAID will enable the youth to find jobs and participate in the country's economy. That benefits the students, the communities, and Sri Lanka," she added.

Infoshare, a local non-profit organization, designed the curriculum and IDM, an ICT academy, delivered the training through its national affiliates. Although the UPP initiative is ending, another USAID project will use the curricula to train an additional 10,000 youth throughout the East, the press release said.

Harshi Hewage, Infoshare's UPP Project Manager, said, "With the end of the war, we have an opportunity to bring development initiatives to the North and East. Infoshare is dedicated to enhancing social development of this region through the use of ICT."

Dr. Bandu Ranasinghe, IDM chairman, said IDM, Sri Lanka's premier ICT Academy, understands the importance of human resource development.

"I appreciate the good work USAID and Microsoft are doing for the socio-economic development of the country. It is a privilege to collaborate with such organizations," he added.

Since 1956, USAID/Sri Lanka has invested nearly $2 billion to benefit all the people of Sri Lanka.

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