Educating a child has been globally recognised as a solution to end the cycle of poverty. Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Often referred to as the great equalizer, ‘Education’ can open the door to jobs, equipping the student with skills they need to not just survive, but thrive. The United Nations named education its fourth Sustainable Development Goal, aiming to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Education develops skills and abilities, can fight inequality and can decrease risk and vulnerability
As a responsible corporate citizen, National Development Bank PLC (NDB) implements many Corporate Sustainability projects across the nation and Education is a key focus area. NDB recently reached out to ‘Vheragalayaya Kanishta Vidyalaya, Matale’, to upgrade facilities in the school and support the students in their education. This project is complementary to the Bank’s ‘Reforestation Project’ which was implemented at the ‘Hibiliyakada Forest’ at Laggala, Matale. The goal of the Bank’s Corporate Sustainability (CS) Committee was to go beyond the reforestation project and assist the community in the area. The Committee members together with the Bank’s Director/GCEO visited the school and met with the principal to ascertain the needs of the school. The discussion revealed that the school is in urgent need of a water purification system, as the water in the area is unsuitable for drinking and there are incidents of kidney disease due to this. This poses a high risk to the students and the teachers. The school also needed assistance for their computer lab where the existing computers were dysfunctional and the room was badly in need of an upgrade.
The Bank donated a new ‘Water Purification Plant’ and 09 used computers to the school. Volunteers from the Bank’s ‘Senior Management’ donated the requirement of computer tables and a team of volunteers from the NDB IT department upgraded the entire computer lab including re-wiring and painting.
The next step in this project was to assist the students as they step into a new scholastic year. The school has students from Grade 1 to 11 and these children come from poor families. Over 95% of the parents are farmers whose livelihood is affected when there is no rain. The majority are Samurdhi beneficiaries and cannot even afford to purchase writing paper required for their children’s examinations. Therefore, the Bank undertook to donate the stationary items in the ‘Book List’ for the students of the entire school. The funding for the project included generous contributions of some of the Senior Management at NDB. Over 190 students from Grade 1 to Grade 11 received all their stationary requirements for the new school year of 2021.
The Principal of the school Mr W. P. G. C. J. Wijeysuriya said, “This is of great benefit to the students. These students come from poor families and their parents find it very hard to provide the stationary requirements. Despite the challenges faced due to the covid pandemic, NDB has gone the extra mile and assisted us and we greatly appreciate this.”
The Bank also awarded scholarships to 10 students of the school. The scholarships were awarded, taking into consideration the students’ academic achievements, studiousness and thirst for knowledge as well as the financial circumstances of their family. NDB believes that good and committed students, who persist despite the challenges faced, are an asset to the nation. The Bank is committed to assist such students in achieving their scholastic goals. Personal commitments were also given by two members of the senior management committee, who sponsored students from their own funds.
Sharing her thoughts on this project, the Chairperson of the CS Committee Ms Melody Wickramanayake said, “A key objective of this project was to uplift the standards in the school and assist the students so that they can obtain a good education. Education plays a key role in the development of a country and supporting students to obtain a good education is essential for the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka. We can develop competencies and proficiency required in the workplace, and leverage opportunity by providing a quality education for all students. It was also heartening to see how our NDB family united and volunteered to assist in certain areas using their own personal funds. This is our ‘One NDB’ culture and shows how sustainability has been integrated in our Bank.”
NDB Bank, named the “Bank of the Year Sri Lanka 2020” by the Banker Magazine UK, is the 4th largest listed bank in Sri Lanka and the parent company of the NDB Group. The only financial services conglomerate in Sri Lanka, NDB Group is uniquely positioned towards assisting the growth and development of the Sri Lankan capital market to provide its customers seamless access to the product and service offerings of all its group companies.