EFC’s ICT Training Centre launches globally recognized CISCO qualification


Since its inception in 2001, the Network on Disability of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) has taken strides, notably in the fields of ICT training, language and skills training and economic empowerment. The ICT Training Centre of the EFC which was launched in 2009 with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is the nucleus of the Network on Disability.  Embracing the vision of ‘productive employment through social harmony’, its objective is to develop the employability skills of persons with diverse disabilities in the country.

Under the adept guidance of Manique Gunaratne, Head of the ICT Training Centre, it has benefited 159 persons with diverse disabilities to date including school leavers, job seekers, undergraduates and those employed from all corners of the island. Ms. Gunaratne was recruited as a role model to the Network on Disability in 2001, as the first employee with a disability. Losing her sight 15 years ago due to retinitispigmentosa for which no cure has still been found, Ms. Gunaratne’s commitment to the betterment of the visually impaired in the country is exemplary.

Trained both locally and internationally to teach, promote and develop ICT for persons with disabilities, Ms. Gunaratne has been nationally and internationally recognized. A Gold Medalist at the World Assembly for Women with Disabilities held in Seoul, Korea in 2011, she is also armed with several coveted national awards including the Keerthi Sri Lankabhimani Desha Bandu Award, Zonta Woman Achiever and Most Inspirational Woman on Special Skills of the Year – all of which was conferred on her last year and the Diriya Kantha Award in 2007.

The Training Centre fully equipped with more than 50 devices specially designed for persons with disabilities and other software, also collaborates with Curtin University of Technology in Australia and SLIIT (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology) Malabe. The programs are also recognized by the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) and within the EFC membership which consists of 620 companies.

The ICT Training Centre receiving the CISCO Academy status last year is the latest feather in its cap. “This is a milestone of the ICT Training Centre as it is the only training centre in the country which trains people with diverse disabilities in CISCO courses. CISCO is a globally recognized IT qualification,” said Ms. Gunaratne who now joins the international team of trainers to conduct CISCO courses. In April this year, EFC commenced conducting Cisco Computer Network Associate Courses (CCNA). “Specialists reveal that persons with CISCO qualifications are often ranked in the top three highest paid slots. CISCO’s own research indicates that certified professionals often earn as much as 10% more than peers without CISCO credentials working in similar routing and networking jobs.”

The demand for IT workers with CISCO certifications often outstrips the supply, says the Head of EFC’s ICT Training Centre who cites three main objectives of introducing this globally recognized qualification to persons with disabilities. “The prime objective of it is to improve the computer knowledge and networking skills of them. Moreover, it aims to improve the employability of the trainees and create a group of trainers for future training needs.” The training team consists of Ms. Manique Gunaratne and Mr. Anuradha Jayakody, Senior Lecturer from SLIIT, Malabe.

For the CCNA Course, nine persons with disabilities have been selected. Among them are three vision impaired participants, three hearing impaired participants and three with physical disabilities. On 23rd October 2015 the Commercial Bank donated millions worth of CISCO equipment for the conduct of the courses. The handing over of equipments was held at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon auditorium.

The following articles were published in the news papers.






Picture description:


Group photograph of Mr. Vajira Ellepola (EFC), Ms. Sonali De Silva (EFC), Ms. Manique Gunaratne (EFC), Ms. Priyanthi Perera (Commercial Bank), Mr. Dishan Fernando (Commercial Bank), Mr. Ashoka Baddage and Ms. Kalhari Kaluarachchi (CISCO).


Manique Gunaratne

Viber: 0094779571918


Employer sensitization at mas in kilinochchi


MAS Holdings presents their 25 year tradition of “great working places” to the North of the country, as two major Divisions formalize plans to build manufacturing

Facilities, MAS Intimates Vidiyal and MAS Active Vaanavil, in Kilinochchi. The names of the facilities themselves, Vidiyal, meaning “dawn” and Vaanavil

Signifying “rainbows” aptly symbolize MAS Holdings’ thinking behind this venture. Like the “rainbow” which is a collaboration of colours, MAS’ passion

Is to unite communities and work together in the area to herald a new phase in the development of the region.

At maturity Vaanavil and Vidiyal together hope to provide employment for approximately 2000 direct employees and positively contribute to the livelihoods

Of their families. MAS offer a solid employee value proposition honed through two and half decades; the opportunity for professional as well as personal

Development. Many indirect employment opportunities have also opened up. The project and peripheral activity will provide employment opportunity for other segments of the labour force.

MAS Active inaugurated a temporary training and manufacturing facility in Thiru Nagar Kilinochchi.

These pioneering employees will eventually become team leaders and multi-skilled workers. The facility will be supported by experienced staff from MAS’s

Existing facilities with the focus on recruiting and developing local talent.

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, ILO (International LabourOrganisation) LEED (Local Empowerment through Economic Development) team did an employer sensitization programme at MAS Kilinochchi for 40 staff members. The “Introduction to network on disability” was done by Ms. Sonali De Silva and Ms. ManiqueGunaratne did the training on “ethics when dealing with persons with disabilities and on accessibility”. It was really impressing to see the smiling faces of the team members when they gathered for the group photograph. Most of the staff members had family members with disabilities. So it was really informative for them.


Picture description:

1 Activities for the participants.

mas activities for participants

2 Group photograph of the participants.

mas group

3 Manique making a presentation.

mas manique presentation

4 Participants of the workshop.

mas participants

5 Sonali making a presentation.

mas sonali presentation



Blog: efcnetworkondisability.employers.lk


Employer sensitization at singer finance


People who live with disabilities often face fear, discomfort, and hostility at a rate that far exceeds that encountered by those who do have no disability.

The vast majority of such treatment is rooted in a basic lack of understanding about the challenges that come with having a disability, and the experience

Of sharing the world with people who do not. People often seek to fill in gaps in their knowledge, and when information is lacking, confusion and even

Fear may result.

Anyone wishing to overcome this experience in them will be best served by first recognizing that a disability is a limited phenomenon. A physical

Disability may have a large impact on how an individual interacts with the physical word. A sensory disability may alter the gathering of information.

These are conditions however; in no way prevent the individuals who live with them from having unique personalities, talents, knowledge, humor, and lives.

People who live with disabilities have more in common than not with those who have no disability. We all share the same existence, and the same basic needs.

In other cases, people who are living with a disability

May have feelings about language that is not in keeping with the established guidelines for etiquette. Whatever the reason, the commonly recognized best

Practices of disability-related etiquette may not always be the preferred practices, and it is always most important for the most effective and respectful


We are all persons with disabilities at some time in our lives. A child, a person with a broken leg, a parent with a pram, pregnant mother, an elderly person, etc. are all disabled in one way or another. Those who remain healthy and able-bodied all their lives are few. As far as the built-up environment is concerned, it is important that it should be barrier-free and adapted to fulfill the needs of all people equally. As a matter of fact, the needs of the persons with disabilities coincide with the needs of the majority, and all

People are at ease with them. As such, planning for the majority implies planning for people with varying abilities and disabilities.

The technical aim of this programme was to provide a barrier-free

Environment for the independence, convenience and safety of all people with disabilities and persons with not yet with a disability.

Disability etiquettes and accessibility has been a huge challenge for people with disabilities. This includes customers as well as employees. Therefore, it is important Employers to sensitize their staff on disability etiquettes and on accessibility.

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, ILO (International LabourOrganisation) LEED Project team did a programme on “Code of ethics when dealing with persons with disabilities and on accessibility” at Singer Finance in Jaffna. Executives from Singer branches in the North participated at this programme. It was very important for the Singer staff members because they come in direct contact with customers with disabilities. Ms. Sonali De Silva did the Introduction to EFC Network on Disability and Ms. ManiqueGunaratne did Code of ethics when dealing with persons with disabilities and on accessibility.


Picture descriptions:

1 Group photograph at Singer Finance

singer group

2 Manique making a presentation.

singer manique presentation

3 Participants at the workshop.

singer participants

4 Sonali making a presentation.

singer sonali presentation


Face Book – ManiqueGunaratne


Employer sensitization at Cargills square


The landmark Rs. 500 million worth mall project in Jaffna by Cargills (Ceylon) PLC was opened for operations as ‘Cargills Square’ late last year.

The 74,000 square foot mini-mall comprising a cineplex with 3 screens including a 3 D cinema, food court, a Cargills Food City Supermarket, KFC and a range

Of shops was opened in the last quarter ended 31st December 2013. Apart from the latest investment, Cargills in the past year has pumped over Rs. 200 million to open outlets in the Northern region including one in Kilinochchi.

Mr. Nesha Kumar of Cargills Ceylon plays a major role in employing persons with disabilities. Cargills Ceylon together with The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon supports persons with disabilities to be gainfully employed. In October 2015 The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon LEED (Local Empowerment through Economic Development) team sponsored by the ILO (International LabourOrganisation) did an “Employer Sensitisation” programme at Cargills Square in Jaffna. Staff members from different Cargills Food City branches participated at this workshop. This programme was important for the staff members of Food City because they have direct interaction with customers with disabilities. The introduction to EFC network on Disability was done by Ms. Sonali De Silva. “Etiquettes when dealing with persons with disabilities and accessibility” was done by Ms. ManiqueGunaratne. It was a new experience for the participants.


Picture descriptions:

1 Manique making a presentation.

cargills manique presentation

2 Participants at the workshop.

cargills participants

3 Sonali making a presentation.

cargills sonali presentation

4 At Cargills Square.

cargills square



Web: www.employers.lk   www.bizdirectory.lk


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon on air on international white cane day


The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, invited EFC ICT Training Centre and the Disability Resource Centre for a programme titled “AnduranEliyata” (Darkness to light) in the “SwadeshiyaSewaya”. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne spoke on the significance of the white cane and the International White Cane Day.




E-mail – manique.g@gmail.com    efc.ict.vip@gmail.com


Employer sensitization programme at taprobane sea foods


As Taprobane Seafood continues to expand its business, opening more factories across the island, the company eagerly partnered with the EFC’s Disability

Network to ensure that persons with disabilities were also given the opportunity to work at the new seafood processing plants. On a windy Sunday morning Taprobane Seafood Managing Director Tim O’Reilly and his Operations Manager KanesasundramThusithan, headed up to their Jaffna crab processing plant for a very special visit. The Jaffna plant which was opened at the end of 2012 along with a similar one in Killinochi is involved

In the purchase and processing of crab meat for export markets, mainly in the USA.

The company, which is firmly committed to regenerating livelihoods especially in post conflict regions such as Jaffna, started operations with a workforce

Of 700 but in less than two years they have successfully created jobs and sustainable livelihoods for over a thousand employees. Having worked in the region

Since the company started, O’Reilly was fully aware that the level of disability in the north was significantly higher than the global average, as a result

Of the thirty year conflict. The company was keen to create a diverse workforce which included persons with disabilities workers and reflected the predominantly

Female demographic of the population in the area. That morning’s visit, was to formally welcome some of Taprobane’s newest recruits, all employees with disabilities, and to open Sara House, the purpose built accommodation nearby. To assist with the recruitment process, TSF enlisted the help of the Employers’

Federation of Ceylon (EFC). The EFC through their work with the International LabourOrganisation’s LEED Project (Local Empowerment through Economic Development)

Has been working in the north since 2011 training, developing and placing persons with disabilities into mainstream jobs, and linking them to established

Supply chains, with the help of the 600 plus employer companies who are members of the EFC, and who have operations in the region.

The EFC team applauded TSF’s proactivity in wanting to hire more persons with disabilities, and the dedication of its managers, “TSF is very interested to hire persons with disabilities”. “Mr. Thusithan was highly motivated and very supportive towards

This initiative. He showed incredible flexibility in understanding their different ways of working and their needs in the workplace. He would look at how

Work practices could be adapted to enable persons with different abilities to do the processing work. Mr. Thusithan was also very open to hearing about

Their home issues and seeing how TSF could help with work life balance.” Understanding that mobility, transport costs and getting to work is an issue for

Most persons with disabilities, TSF created Sara House, a purpose built accommodation for the workers situated near to the factory. The house was named

In honour of O’Reilly’s cousin Sara, who herself had a spinal disorder. “Sara House will enable 25 people with disabilities to live and work in a safe

And tolerant environment,” O’Reilly said. “This new initiative is the consequence of collaboration between Taprobane Seafood and the Employers’ Federation

Of Ceylon, facilitated by the International LabourOrganisation’s local empowerment through economic development project.” TSF successfully recruited 15

Women with disabilities to work in the plant and live at Sara House.SatheeskumarYogeswary was one of the successful candidates. Having sustained shrapnel wound in her arm, Satheeskumar resigned herself to the idea that she would never be able to work. “From the time I had my injury I was never able to find

Work or earn money for myself. I heard about this job from welfare place in my local community. I am so happy to be able to work.”

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon team did an employer Sensitisationprogramme at Taprobane Sea Foods in October 2015 to sensitise the staff on “Disability Etiquettes” and “Accessibility”. The staff was really impressed about the training given to them. Ms. Sonali De Silva did the presentation on the “Introduction to network on disability”. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne did the presentations on “Disability etiquettes” and “Accessibility”. At the end of the programme the team visited the Sera House. It was a really successful programme.


Picture descriptions:

1 Group photograph of the participants.

taprobane sea foods group photo

2 Manique making a presentation.

taprobane sea foods manique presentation

3 Participants at the programme.

taprobane sea foods participants

4 Sera House for persons with disabilities.

taprobane sea foods sera house

5 Sonali making a presentation.

taprobane sea foods sonali presentation


Fax – 0094114547649


Fostering family engagement for persons with disabilities


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon took another initiative to fostering family engagement for persons with disabilities in Jaffna district. Due to cultural barriers, family background and over protection by the parents, persons with disabilities find very difficult to be placed in employment.

The ILO (International LabourOrganisation) LEED (Local empowerment through Economic Development) project is being implemented by The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon since 2011. Now they are implementing the phase 4 of the project. Fostering family engagements workshops were done in Mulativu, Kilinochchi and in Mannar districts few months ago.

In September 2015 persons with disabilities in Jaffna district got the opportunity to develop their skills. The workshop was held at Green Grass Hotel.

Persons with diverse disabilities were selected along with one family member for this workshop. Gender balance was also taken into consideration. Tamil translations were done by Mr. VijayaBasker.

The introduction to EFC Network on Disability was done by Ms. Sonali De Silva. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne did the presentation on “Importance of doing a job”.

Mr. Nesha Kumar from Cargills Ceylon Ltd. Shared his experience in employing persons with disabilities in their company.

An employee with a physical disability from Cargills Ceylon Ltd. spoke about his experience in being gainfully employed.  These two sessions had a very good impact on persons with disabilities who are seeking for employment and I am sure even the family members realized the importance of their child been employed.

Next was the session on how to write a proper CV and interview skills. The session was conducted by Ms. Sonali De Silva, Ms. ManiqueGunaratne and Mr. A. Kirushanthan from EFC. The role play made very interesting for the participants to learn the right skills to develop their confidence to face a job interview.

Participants enjoyed a delicious lunch and thereafter had an interactive session with a parent of a person with a disability who spoke about the impact of having her child earning, supporting the family and being a successful citizen in society.

A person with a physical disability spoke on what is expected from the parents and family, Disability Barriers – one showing how families

Can be a barrier to a person with a disability, even though they have good intentions at heart.

The session on “Changing mind set” was conducted by Ms. Sonali De Silva.

Workshops are a learning flat form for everyone. But this workshop had a difference. All participants including family members had to commit themselves by signing a pledge. The pledge had seven areas each person could commit themselves to work on. Each person committed to do one or more thing in the pledge.

It was a happy end of a workshop with smiling faces where all took a photograph holding the pledge.


Picture descriptions:

1 An employee from  Cargills Ceylon sharing his experiences.

family workshop cargills employee

2 Manique handing over the cheque to a small business holder.

family workshop cheque to business

3 Group photograph of the participants.

family workshop group

4 Role play of interview skills.

family workshop interview skills

5 Manique making a presentation on importance of doing a job.

family workshop manique presentation

6 Nesha Kumar doing a presentation.

family workshop nesha kumar

7 Participants of the workshop.

family workshop participants

8 Sonali making a presentation.

family workshop sonali presentation


Mobile – 0094779571918


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Exhibits assistive devices at University of peradeniya


The Students Union of University of Peradeniya said that the exhibition stall done by The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities together with the students of the Special Skills Unit was one of the best stalls at the exhibition. In September 2015 the Students Union of University of Peradeniya organized an exhibition including all faculties of the University. Students with disabilities of the Special Skills Unit and The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon did a stall titled “Nayanalokaya” (which included assistive devices and technologies for persons with disabilities. More than 50 assistive devices specially designed for persons with disabilities were displayed at this stall.

Everyone who visited the stall was really impressed about the stall.

The EFC ICT Training Centre headed by Ms. ManiqueGunaratne is the only Centre in Sri Lanka which has the largest number of assistive devices and software for persons with disabilities especially for vision impaired persons.

The Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) has partnered with EFC ICT Training Centre to develop an application to learn English Language from the smart phone. Special feature of this application is that it has the speech facilities with the touch gestures. The SLIIT also displayed their device at this exhibition together with EFC. This application can be installed from EFC.

Please watch the video clip about the stall on the following link. The importance of this video clip is all persons involved in this video clip are persons with disabilities.



Picture descriptions:

1 Devices displayed.

devices displayed

2 Manique explaining the devices.

manique explaining the devices

3 The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon stall.

manique with the banner

4 Visitors checking the devices.

visitors checking items


Co-ordinator – ASSET (Advancing Special Skills for Economic Transformation) Project




Pedometer for vision impaired persons


The pedometer is an assistive device for vision impaired persons which has the talking facility. It makes your walking and jogging more easily with the talking facility. It speaks the distance and steps you have walked. It plays music while you are walking. It can be adjusted according to your jogging or walking tempo. Alarms can be also set according to the time you want to walk. You can also set the step length. Talking watch is also available in the pedometer. EFC ICT trainees make use of the pedometer at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities.



Resource Person to Train, Promote & Develop Information & Communication Technology for Visually Impaired Persons