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The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has embarked on a second national scale community initiative to take English language education to children in rural Sri Lanka, in a significant adjunct to the Bank’s country-wide IT education programme.
The Bank has engaged the professional expertise of the Life English Academy (LEA), a leading English language training institution in Sri Lanka, to conduct this programme as an extra-curricular activity at selected schools across the country.
The inaugural programme under this groundbreaking initiative began on 27th September at the Kiriella Madhya Maha Vidyalaya in Ratnapura for more than 250 students aged 16 years upwards, with funding and training equipment provided by the Commercial Bank CSR Trust. Initially, 160 students applied to participate in this programme but the numbers increased to 250 students due to overwhelming demand, the Bank said.
The first programme comprising of 16 two-hour lessons spread over four months, will conclude in February 2012. It will thereafter be replicated in other rural areassimultaneous training programmes in other parts of the island.
Explaining the rationale for the Bank’s adoption of English language education and IT literacy as focal areas for its CSR Trust, Commercial Bank’s Managing Director and CEO Ravi Dias said: “These are two areas that are critically important to the future development of the country. In the age of knowledge driven economies, Sri Lanka’s development is dependent on the development of the skills and knowledge of the younger generation, and as the country’s leading bank, we believe it is our responsibility to contribute tangibly to these areas.”
He said the Bank already has in place a well-evolved, on-going programme of donating IT training facilities to needy schools which has to date benefitted more than 25,000 students, and the Bank hopes to build this new initiative along the same lines.
Mr. Dias said the two community programmes promoting IT literacy and English education reflect the Commercial Bank’s own vision of being the most technically advanced Bank in the country, and are an articulation of the Bank’s brand positioning of ‘for a better future.’
“The overall goal of our 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,” Mr. Dias added. “These programmes represent a pledge by Commercial Bank to contribute tangibly to help young Sri Lankans become more competitive in the global context.”
The structured English education courses to be conducted under the Commercial Bank initiative will focus on spoken English and basic writing skills as required for personal development. Each student would receive up to 32 hours of contact with the trainers of the Life English Academy, led by Ms Noeline Honter, the Academy’s Director/CEO and Lead Trainer.
As part of its commitment, the Commercial Bank will provide a laptop computer, multimedia and PA system and complimentary stationery to the students undergoing training. The classes at the Kiriella Madhya Maha Vidyalaya will take place in two sessions after school hours two days a week, with a break in December on account of the school vacation and the GCE Ordinary Level examination.
The Commercial Bank’s CSR Trust was established in 2004, and the Bank contributes 1% of its post tax profit annually towards the Trust’s projects.
Besides the IT education initiative under which the Bank has donated more than 50 fully-equipped and furnished computer labs to date, Commercial Bank’s ‘Sarasaviyata Nawa Saviyak’ programme provides 25 annual scholarships to worthy undergraduates. The chosen undergraduates each receive Rs. 25,000/- per year throughout their degree programme. Expanding its commitment in 2012, the Bank also presented laptop computers to each of the 25 undergraduates.
The Bank also subscribes to the view that ‘A healthy nation is a wealthy nation’ and supports the Health sector as its secondary CSR initiative. With a view to ensuring the health of future generations, The Bank has donated critical care equipment to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital and Jaffna Teaching Hospital. The Bank also has made substantial monetary contributions to repair wards at several other hospitals.
Commercial Bank has also supported facilities for war heroes such as the Ranaviru Sevana Ragama, Abhimansala in Anuradhapura and Mihindu Seth Medura, Attidiya.
Promoting cultural heritage is another important area of activity of the Commercial Bank CSR Trust. Currently, a Bank sponsored museum is being constructed within the precincts of the Kataragama Kirivehera. The Bank has also renovated the steps of Sri Pada for the benefit of devotees who visit this sacred place.
The largest private bank in Sri Lanka, Commercial Bank is the only Sri Lankan Bank to be listed two years consecutively in the world’s Top 1000 Banks. The Bank operates a network of 224 service points in Sri Lanka and a network of 536 ATMs, the single largest ATM network operated by a bank in the island. It also operates 17 service points in Bangladesh and is the 4th largest foreign bank in that country. The Bank has been adjudged ‘Best Bank in Sri Lanka’ for 14 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.
The inaugural programme of the Commercial Bank’s English education project in progress.