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Propagation of ‘Math Lab’ concept begins with pilot project for 4,500 students from four schools and a home for differently-abled
A ground-breaking new initiative to stimulate and develop the mathematical and analytical skills of school children in Sri Lanka has been launched by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon as a project aligned with the Bank’s education-centric corporate social responsibility agenda.
Inspired by the results achieved by the ‘Math Lab’ concept pioneered at the Miyenakandura government school, Passara, by former teacher and innovative learning materials designer H. A. Dharmasiri, the Commercial Bank initiative begins with a pilot project involving 4,500 students at four government schools and a home for differently-abled children.
Commercial Bank will fund the establishment and equipping of Math Labs at these locations, the training of teachers and students on how to use and maintain these labs, the establishment of mechanisms for monitoring and assessing progress and the formation of Math Societies in these institutions, as part of the Bank’s Sustainable Math Lab Development project.
“The importance of mathematics skills in an increasingly technology driven world cannot be over emphasised,” the Bank’s Managing Director/CEO Mr Jegan Durairatnam said. “The proposed Math Labs are designed to create a sustainable impact on the way the subject is taught and learned in our school system, by using the tools and methods developed by the pioneer of the concept.”
Designed to provide students with the environment, instruments and stimulus to unleash their logical and analytical thinking power by learning difficult theories through 70 interactive mathematical games, game tools and interesting activities, the Math Lab uses simple and enjoyable mathematical activities to help students comprehend what the practical math problems actually mean, and to understand complicated calculations and formulae. It guides and trains students to practice amazingly simple techniques to solve mathematical problems.
The five institutions chosen for Commercial Bank’s pilot project are Anura Central College, Yakkala, Wewita Maithree Navodya Maha Vidyalaya, Bandaragama, Siri Piyarathana Maha Vidyalaya, Padukka, Dompe Primary School and the Sevana Children’s Home, Pita Kotte.
The rate of failure in mathematics at the GCE Ordinary Level at these schools ranges from 34% to 55%, while of the students that passed, 70% obtained only a ‘Simple Pass’ grade.
For the implementation of its Math Lab project, Commercial Bank has brought together a team of resource persons led by the founder and developer of the Math Lab H. A. Dharmasiri as Lead Teacher and comprising Messrs R.M.Premathilaka, a retired Assistant Director of Education; H.P. Leelaratne, a retired mathematics teacher; and Dileep Rohana, a former Vice Principal and mathematics teacher as Supporting Teachers and Anural Jayewardene, a Senior Trainer in Learning Methods and Life Skills, as Trainer.
They will be supported by Advisors Dr R. Sanjeewa,Head of the Departmentand Senior Lecturer at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and Sanath P. Vidanagamage, a Certified Corporate Trainer with the International Finance Corporation, and a Visiting Lecturer and corporate sector consultant.
Commercial Bank’s flagship CSR project in the sphere of education involves the donation of fully-equipped and furnished Computer Labs to schools and needy institutions across the country to raise national computer literacy levels. The IT Labs donated by the Bank to date have benefitted an estimated 170,000 students.
Other initiatives of the Bank’s CSR Trust in the area of education include presenting scholarships and laptops to undergraduates annually, providing English education to rural school children, and 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. In 2015, the Bank launched a new educational website called ‘Sipnena’ to support online education in schools and commenced a pilot 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 five consecutive years, Commercial Bank operates a network of 246 branches and 618 ATMs in Sri Lanka. The Bank was ranked the most valuable private sector brand in Sri Lanka in 2014 and has also won multiple awards as Sri Lanka’s best bank from a number of international publications over several years. The Bank was adjudged one of Sri Lanka’s 10 best corporate citizens by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in 2013 and 2014.
Commercial Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 18 branches and Myanmar, where it has a Representative Office in Yangon. In September 2015, the Bank received regulatory approval for the establishment of a fully-fledged Tier I Bank in the Republic of Maldives.
Students engage in games that build math and analytical skills (Above) at the Math Lab donated by Commercial Bank to Dompe Primary School (Below)