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Corporate Social
Responsibility

Commercial Bank unveils ambitious ‘Smart Schools’ initiative

Seeks to expand role of IT Labs to raise pass levels in key subjects

A ground-breaking new initiative to raise averages for pass levels in key subjects in the secondary schools curriculum has been launched by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon as part of the Bank’s extensive commitments to promote education.

Leveraging the 170 computer labs already donated by the Bank to schools around the island, the new initiative seeks to create ‘smart schools’ where students and teachers use these IT facilities to improve knowledge and skills in subjects such as English, Mathematics and Science for the GCE Ordinary Level and Bio science and Mathematics for the Advanced Level.

Working with Headstart (Pvt) Ltd., the company that owns the Guru.lk educational website, Commercial Bank has utilised the knowledge of a panel of academics to develop curriculum based new content that will be part of Learning Management Systems that will be installed in the computers of the school IT labs and will be accessible from external computers as well.

The objective is to create a new platform for students and teachers to interact with each other after school hours, download course materials and teaching guides and engage in extra work that could make a difference in their pass rates at the GCE Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations.

The lessons in the e management system will go beyond the traditional classroom teaching method to include more graphical illustrations, diagrams, interactive assignments and feedback mechanisms to simplify complex subject matter, the Bank said.

“The focus of the initial phase of our schools IT labs programme was to raise computer literacy levels among students on a mass scale,” Commercial Bank’s Managing Director/CEO Mr Jegan Durairatnam said. “With that aspect taken care of, it became important to harness the wider potential of the IT facilities to resolve the pressing issue of low pass rates in some critically-important subjects. Our Smart Schools programme is one example of how we can address this problem.”

He said the Bank believed that the programme could be extended further to cover vocational training at a later stage.

Commercial Bank’s Smart Schools programme envisages giving students and teachers usernames and passwords to access the content via different login levels. Student users will have login levels that allow them to use the content in the system to further their knowledge in various subjects. They will also be able to contribute innovative ideas and seek solutions to subject-related issues through a forum where other students and teachers are present. Teachers would have a login level that enables them to access resource materials and teaching guides as well as chat with their peers in other schools about teaching methods and subject matter.

The initial programme to educate principals of 100 schools in the Western Province on the Smart Schools initiative was held recently at the Commercial Bank with the participation of the Additional Provincial Director of Education for the Western Province Mr. Wimal Gunaratne.

Commercial Bank’s CSR Trust has an extensive, multi-dimensional portfolio of community initiatives that promote IT literacy, online education and English literacy; provide scholarships and laptops to undergraduates; donate essential equipment to hospitals; support the preservation and restoration of sites of historic, cultural or religious significance and support the rehabilitation needs of ‘War Heroes.’

Some of the on-going projects include an annual presentation of scholarships and laptops to 50 undergraduates; the donation of fully-equipped IT laboratories to schools; an English education programme for rural school children; a project in partnership with Cisco Networking Academy to offer a comprehensive ‘IT Essentials’ course for teachers and students free of charge via the Bank’s online Education programme; an educational website called ‘Sipnena’ to support online education in schools; and a project to use online test papers to sharpen the mathematics skills of students preparing for their GCE Ordinary Level examinations.

The only Sri Lankan bank to be ranked among the Top 1000 banks of the world for six consecutive years, Commercial Bank operates a network of 251 branches and 640 ATMs in Sri Lanka. The Bank has won multiple awards as Sri Lanka’s Best Bank, Best Trade Bank, Strongest Bank, Most Respected Bank from a number of local and international institutions and publications over several years. The Bank has also been adjudged one of Sri Lanka’s 10 best corporate citizens by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce for several years.