Strengthening Sri Lanka’s learned workforce, the Brandix way

Thursday, 7 October 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena symbolically presenting K. Akshika with the first Ran Daru Abhises scholarship. Ministry of Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera, Brandix Essentials CEO Lalith Bandara and Brandix Head of CSR Malika Samaraweera, were also part of the proceedings, along with other Brandix representatives 


K. Akshika, first recipient of the Ran Daru Abhises scholarship
Brandix Apparel Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Malika Samaraweera

Speaking at the launch of the ‘Ran Daru Abhises’ scholarship scheme by Brandix on World Children’s Day, 1 October, Minister of Education Dinesh Gunawardena stated that education was changing in Sri Lanka, and it was important that private businesses extend their support to help children, especially across rural areas with limited resources, to continue their studies. 

The first scholar to benefit from ‘Ran Daru Abhises’, with a monthly scholarship for the entirety of her undergraduate period is K. Akshika from Batticaloa. Not only did she rank 2nd All-Island and 1st in the Batticaloa district in the Bio Systems Technology stream at the 2019 GCE Advanced Level (A/L) examinations, she also found employment at Brandix’s Batticaloa facility while awaiting her results, in order to financially support her family.

Daily FT spoke to K. Akshika and Brandix Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Malika Samaraweera, to learn more about the scholarship, the company’s reasons for supporting education, and its approach to CSR.

“At Brandix, sustainability is integrated into our corporate DNA. Woven around Inspired Solutions delivered by Inspired People, our way of life encompasses an eco-system made up of our business, our people, and our communities. Therefore, CSR at Brandix is about ‘Manusathkara’ and begins with providing for our own. In 2007, we set out to provide clean drinking water for our people in rural areas that we operate in, as we realised lack of access to water was a key challenge they faced. That engagement eventually led to the creation of Model Villages, where we directly looked into solving water and sanitation needs in communities within a 5-10 km radius of our factories, and upgrading public infrastructure including schools and hospitals to raise the standard of living for people,” Malika Samaraweera said, explaining the basis of the Brandix CSR journey involving the communities they operate in. “The second pillar in our CSR focus is Education. A learned workforce will always make a difference in the sustained growth of an organisation and an economy. Internally, Brandix employees are continuously encouraged to develop themselves through the GAP Inc.’s P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement) initiative, and through ‘Brandix Shilpa’, an initiative in collaboration with the Vocational Training Authority to provide NVQ level 4 & 5 qualifications for our employees,” Malika added.

In 2010, Brandix kicked off the Ran Daru initiative, with ‘Ran Daru Scholarships’ designed to offer financial support to children of Brandix Associates studying for Grade 5, Ordinary Level, and Advanced Level examinations. ‘Ran Daru Thilina’ followed in 2016, reinforcing the importance of education by providing necessary material resources for school to Associates’ children from nursery to Grade 5. ‘Ran Daru Abhises’ is the latest education initiative under CSR, designed to enable students selected to state universities to continue their higher education without hindrance, thereby strengthening the future learned workforce of the country.

“I joined Brandix in 2019, soon after my Advanced Levels, as my father – the breadwinner in our family – suddenly fell ill. I decided that I should look for employment soon and did not think of following any higher studies due to my circumstances. However, once I joined Brandix, my colleagues and the management were tremendously supportive and went out of their way to ensure that I would be able to go to university. I am extremely grateful to Brandix for this opportunity and hope that other children too will be inspired by my story,” said K. Akshika, the first recipient of the Brandix Ran Daru Abhises scholarship. 

Having been placed District 3rd at the Grade 5 Scholarship examination and earning 8 A passes at the Ordinary Level, Akshika was a model student. Her aptitude for excellence soon shone through at work, and when her Advanced Level results became public, her teammates and supervisors rallied to support her to rise above her circumstances. 

“For anyone that thinks their circumstances limit them from moving forward, I want to encourage you to stay on course. When I needed to help my family, I decided to start working and was able to complete two years at Brandix in the process. Now, Brandix is helping me to complete my education. I am determined to do well, and to give back as much as possible,” Akshika added.

Ran Daru Abhises scholarships are provided to the best performing and most deserving students, with one student per school selected from each Model Village under Brandix’s care. The students will be selected based on their educational prowess, extra-curricular activities, as well as the need for financial support. The initiative also enables employees of Brandix to engage by becoming ‘Abhises Champions’, taking over the sponsorship of a student, should they wish to contribute. Each scholarship holder will receive a monthly payment for the entirety of the four years to complete their university education, to ensure they can study unimpeded, and become part of a learned workforce that is essential for the future of our country.