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The Commercial Bank has extended its ground-breaking community initiative to promote English literacy among school children to the Kalutara District, following the striking success of the pilot project in Ratnapura.
Students from 11 schools in the Kalutara District have been enrolled in the second phase of the programme, which is to be rolled out across Sri Lanka by the country’s largest private bank as one of its principal CSR projects.
Comprising of 16 two-hour lessons spread over four months, the English course is conducted by the Life English Academy (LEA), a leading English language training institution in Sri Lanka, as an extra-curricular activity for selected schools across the country.
The course for the Kalutara District will be conducted at Dharmapala Maha Vidyalaya Wadduwa, and will be attended by 172 students from Wadduwa Central College, Wadduwa Balika Vidyalaya, Pohaddaramulla Kanishta Vidyalaya, Madawilgoda Sri Gnanananda Kanishta Vidyalaya, Weeragama Vidyalaya, Dhammananda Maha Vidyalaya, St. Mary’s College Wadduwa, Pothupitiya Maha Vidyalaya, Thalpitiya Kanishta Vidyalaya, Mawala Kanishta Vidyalaya and the host school Dharmapala Maha Vidyalaya.
The structured English education courses conducted under this programme focus on spoken English and basic writing skills as required for personal development. Each student receives up to 32 hours of contact with the trainers of the Life English Academy.
Commenting on the programme, Commercial Bank’s Managing Director and CEO Ravi Dias said: “When the inaugural programme concluded in early 2013, it was evident that the students had benefitted very tangibly from its content. We believe this initiative could, in fact, be a turning point in the lives of students in terms of preparing them for interviews for employment when they complete their studies.”
Mr. Dias said the Bank’s adoption of English language education perfectly complemented its flagship CSR initiative to promote IT literacy through the donation of computer labs to schools. “We believe that IT skills and English literacy are prerequisites for the development of the country, and have, with the active engagement of the Commercial Bank CSR Trust, launched programmes on a national scale to address these needs,” he said.
Commercial Bank’s well-evolved on-going programme of donating IT training facilities to needy schools has to date benefitted more than 100,000 students from 96 schools and the Bank intends to conduct its English education programme on the same scale, Mr. Dias added.
The inaugural programme of the Bank’s English education project began on 27th September at the Kiriella Madhya Maha Vidyalaya in Ratnapura for more than 250 students aged 16 years upwards. Initially, 160 students applied to participate in this programme but the numbers increased to 250 due to overwhelming demand.
As part of its commitment, the Commercial Bank provides a laptop computer, multimedia and PA system and complimentary stationery to the students participating in these courses.
The Commercial Bank’s CSR Trust was established in 2004. The overall goal of the Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility policy is to generate measurable and sustainable social dividends for different segments of society, in particular those which require empowerment and enrichment.
Among the other CSR initiatives of the Bank are the presentation of scholarships and laptops to undergraduates, projects that contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage, the donation of health equipment to hospitals and regional projects.
Established in 1969, Commercial Bank is the largest private bank in Sri Lanka, and the only Sri Lankan bank to be ranked among the world’s top 1000 banks for three successive years. The Bank operates a network of 232 computer-linked service points and the country’s single largest ATM network of 570 terminals. The Bank has been adjudged ‘Best Bank in Sri Lanka’ for 15 consecutive years by ‘Global Finance’ Magazine and has won multiple awards as the country’s best bank from ‘The Banker,’ ‘FinanceAsia,’ ‘Euromoney’ and ‘Trade Finance’ magazines.
LEA Director/CEO Noeline Honter (left) and a group of students following the English course.