An education programme set up by fashion jeans maker Denimatrix as part of its commitment to social responsibility saw 98 workers earn high school diplomas last year - taking the total awarded to more than 300 since 2009.

The Guatemala City based manufacturer, which is part of the Textile and Apparel Division of the Texas based Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA), provides a Continuing Education Center at its facility where classes are held after business hours and at weekends.

The Rotterdam School in Guatemala oversees the fully accredited programme and provides teachers and the curriculum. Workers pay for their tuition through payroll deductions.

"We believe the best way to improve society and provide better opportunities for our employees is through education," said PCCA president and CEO Wally Darneille.

While Jim Taylor, PCCA vice president of administration and human resources, added: "This accomplishment takes great dedication and motivation, and it is nothing short of remarkable.

"These employees attend the school voluntarily, on their own time, at their own expense, and often travel long distances to be in class. Meanwhile, they work at Denimatrix, have families to care for, and must study to prepare for their lessons."

Denimatrix was one of three recipients of the 2010 Award for Corporate Excellence presented by the US State Department for its environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

And last year it was named Exporter of the Year in the Textiles and Apparel category by the Guatemalan Association of Exporters (AGEXPORT).

PCCA's ACG denim mill and Denimatrix facility are said to comprise the only fully vertically integrated supply chain for denim apparel in the western hemisphere.