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20-12-2021 News & Events

ComBank gifts 100 STEM Smart Classrooms to the nation

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has completed its project to equip 100 schools island-wide with Smart Classrooms that deliver digitised educational content, a commitment it embarked on in its centenary year to transform orthodox educational institutions to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Centres.

The digital learning content required to implement this project was created free of charge by Headstart (Pvt) Ltd., which also developed the ‘Sipnena’ online education website funded by the Bank, thereby giving the project its name: the‘100 Sipnena Smart STEM Schools’ initiative.

The classrooms currently benefit grade 10 and 11 students who are preparing for their GCE Ordinary Level examinations, a decision made to enable these students face the public exam with confidence, the Bank said. Soon, these classrooms will also be open to students from Grade one upwards.

The 100 schools were selected by the Bank from nearly 250 schools to which Commercial Bank has already donated IT Labs as part of its on-going effort to elevate IT literacy levels on a national scale. After choosing the beneficiary schools, the Bank determined suitable spaces to establish the STEM Centres and provided computers and multimedia projectors under the first phase of the initiative. The computers in these classrooms have access to offline digital content that consists of interactive lessons, presentations, diagrams and illustrated material, specifically developed to create a different learning experience for students in the science and commerce streams.

Furthermore, the selected classrooms were renovated, furnished, and equipped by the Bank which also sponsored the training of teachers who facilitate e-learning. Teams from ‘Sasnaka Sansadaya' – an independent group of university lecturers and students, were deployed to train Smart Classroom teachers on making optimum use of the Sipnena digitised educational content.

Phase two of the project will include introducing other educational initiatives supported by the Bank such as Coding Clubs, Math Clubs & Camps, CISCO hardware courses, and vocational training

support, depending on the individual success, progress, performance, and commitment of each school, the Bank said. The organising of inter-school ICT competitions and granting of higher education scholarships to top performers to study at recognised universities such as SLIIT, NSBM and ESOFT too are in the pipeline for the second phase.

Commenting on this project, Commercial Bank Managing Director and Group CEO Mr S. Renganathan said: “Although the 100 STEM Classrooms project began as part of the Bank’s 100-year celebrations, it couldn’t have been initiated at a more appropriate time. With COVID-19 compelling online learning with an urgency never-before experienced, we hope the Smart Classrooms will considerably facilitate the continuity and quality of education, especially for exam year students.”

At the launch of this project last year, the Bank stated it envisions a Sri Lanka with students well-versed in IT helping shape the knowledge economy in the digital age. The Bank embarked upon this project to help reduce the number of students that drop out of the formal education system after Ordinary and Advanced level examinations and to create more Hardware Technicians, Network Engineers, Software Engineers, Software Developers, Computer Repair persons and the like with lucrative and diverse career options.

The Bank’s education-related Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives also includes the government – private sector ‘Smart Schools’ project currently encompassing 65 schools in the Western Province. It is also funding a 150-hour IT hardware course conducted in collaboration with SLT Campus (Pvt) Ltd. and CISCO Networking Academy in selected schools and has partnered with the Academy to offer an ‘IT Essentials’ course for teachers and students free of charge. Additionally, the Bank has supported the ‘IT Essentials-Instructor’ certificate course for teachers at the CISCO Networking Centre at the University of Moratuwa under this programme.

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 11 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches and 931 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 the Bank 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.

Photo caption:

The opening of one of the STEM Classrooms and lessons in progress in the donated STEM Classrooms

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