"Partnering with global ICT firms and diaspora allies"*
Nandasiri Wanninayaka (Founder, Horizon Lanka Academy)
Nandasiri Wanninayaka ("Wanni") is an Ashoka Fellow who has earned world-wide recognition for entrepreneurial education iniatitives in rural areas plagued by unemployment, isolation, and fractured schools. Since 1997, when he launched a private school for the poor on an unpaid basis, he has helped hundreds of rural youth gain new language and ICT skills as preparation for entry into the global marketplace. Wanni found a way to bring modern technology to isolated communities, link villagers to outside networks through email, and use alternative education (with an emphasis on the English language) to foster teamwork, creativity and self-esteem amongst students. After student successes in initial Openworld-sponsored work-study research and other telework projects, he has recently helped launch an outsourcing venture that is aiming to employ 1,000 young people. Other new initiatives include launching a free English satellite TV station, and introducing eCommerce solutions for farmers to avoid middlemen and sell their products at market prices. Horizon Lanka Foundation's innovative methods have attracted international interest and the Sri Lankan government is encouraging replication of his model in many parts of the country.
*proposed focus for video interview