The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has announced a partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to further enhance the Bank’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education projects and the delivery of STEM education to selected underperforming schools in Sri Lanka.
This initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Education comes a year after the Bank supported the establishment of 100 STEM smart classrooms island-wide to deliver digitised educational content. Under the MoU signed with NSF, the Bank’s CSR Trust will provide a list of schools to implement STEM projects and deliver logistical support to launch the STEM programme and carry out impact assessments.
Recognising the rapid advancements in technology globally and the increasing demand for skilled professionals in the STEM fields, the Bank said its CSR Trust chose to implement this project to prioritise STEM education in the local education system.
For its part, the NSF will recommend schools deserving of STEM education support, assist the Bank in selecting and evaluating education projects which would yield impact at national level, assist the Bank to design the training programme, and perform impact assessments after the implementation of the STEM programme.
Both parties will identify and implement interventions to address specific requirements of selected schools chosen for the programme, among their other responsibilities listed in the agreement.
Commenting on this latest STEM education programme, Commercial Bank Chief Financial Officer Mr Nandika Buddhipala said: “The Bank decided to expand its efforts in the field of STEM education because this will help prepare students for the jobs of the future. Many of the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs in the modern economy are in STEM fields such as computer science, engineering, and data analysis. By providing students with a strong foundation in these subjects, we can ensure that the next generation of Sri Lanka is well-equipped to succeed in careers that are in demand.”
He added that by partnering with a reputed government institution such as the NSF which is mandated to serve and strengthen the science and technology sectors in Sri Lanka, the Bank will be able to benefit from the expertise it offers to further develop its STEM projects for the benefit of a larger group.
STEM education helps foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By teaching students how to analyse data, design experiments, and solve complex problems, STEM education helps to equip them with the skills necessary to succeed in any field. In addition to preparing students for future careers and fostering critical thinking skills, the STEM education programme can also help promote innovation and drive economic growth in the country, the Bank said.
Commercial Bank’s largest commitment in the sphere of corporate social responsibility is to digital technology education in Sri Lanka. In September 2022, the Bank donated its 250th IT lab under its flagship community initiative to take digital literacy to even the most rural towns in the country. It was also a key partner in the national Smart Schools initiative where 165 schools were equipped with digital learning facilities. The Bank’s “Sipnena” online portal contains digitized school curriculum content, complete with practical videos and presentations to facilitate easy learning for students.
The National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka was established in 1998 as the successor to the Natural Resources Energy & Science Authority (NARESA) of Sri Lanka established in 1981. It facilitates research, development and innovation to create a knowledge economy. NSF is also engaged in capacity building, infrastructure development, technology transfer, knowledge creation and sharing in all fields of science and technology to improve the quality of life.
Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World, and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 12 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 269 branches and 943 automated machines in Sri Lanka. Commercial Bank is the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector and is a leader in digital innovation in the country’s banking sector. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where it operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I bank with a majority stake.
Commercial Bank’s Chief Financial Officer Mr Nandika Buddhipala and National Science Foundation Director General Dr Sepalika Sudasinghe exchange the agreement in the presence of (from right) National Science Foundation Chairman Prof. Ranjith Senaratne and Commercial Bank’s Senior Manager – Sustainability, Women Banking & CSR Mrs Kamalini Ellawala and representatives of the two organisations.