The Commercial Bank of Ceylon (ComBank) in collaboration with the CISCO Networking Academy has enabled around 500 students from government schools to follow IT courses of their choice on a virtual platform free of charge in 2020.
This collaboration was launched as part of the Bank’s IT education-related CSR initiatives, with the objective of making optimal use of the IT labs donated by the Bank to schools to educate students in an up-to-date ICT curriculum with CISCO Networking Academy, the world’s leading technology skills and career development programme. It provided an opportunity to transcend traditional classroom limitations during the pandemic to enable students to obtain industry-leading certifications from CISCO.
While the bank covered the lecture fee for these students, the CISCO Networking Academy provided the courses free of charge. Upon completion of these courses, students have the opportunity to win Scholarships for CISCO career ready certifications such as CCNA, CCNP and Cyber Operations. These certifications have a high demand in the industry.
Despite the many challenges including a halt in information technology education in schools due to the pandemic and school closures, internet connectivity problems experienced by students attempting to learn virtually from their homes, and enrolment issues for virtual classes due to the low-income background of the students, the project was a success, the Bank said. This is because the Bank was able to reach a large number of students who saw the value of being associated with the CISCO brand and earn scholarships to follow career-ready courses.
In 2021 the Bank invited students above the age of 13 interested in becoming the next generation technology experts to choose from five IT courses offered online by the Academy. These courses are ‘Get Connected,’ a beginner course that explores essential skills such as how to use a computer, connect devices, and access search, email, and social media; ‘NDG Linux Unhatched’ that allows students to wade into the shallow end of Linux, the back-end operating system used by global titans such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, NASA, Tesla, Amazon and others; ‘Introduction to Cyber Security’ that explores cyber trends, threats and the broader topic of cybersecurity; ‘Introduction to Internet of Things’ that helps students learn about transforming any business in any industry, and ‘Entrepreneurship’ which teaches business and financial skills, attitudes, and behaviours to help students develop an entrepreneurial mindset that can empower them to improve their lives. At present there are 3000 students enrolled for this programme and 500 students have already started the courses.
Under its education-related Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, which place emphasis on IT literacy on a national scale, the Commercial Bank of Ceylon has donated 200 IT Labs to schools and other institutions and is a partner in the government-private sector ‘Smart Schools’ project currently encompassing 65 schools in the Western Province.
The Bank is also supporting a project to set up 100 Smart classrooms that focus on the STEM subjects and is funding projects to set up math labs in schools and to enhance vocational training opportunities for students that do not qualify for higher education. The Bank has launched ‘Sipnena’ – its own innovative online educational website that brings the universe of knowledge closer to Sri Lankan children.
Additionally, Commercial Bank is funding a 150-hour IT hardware course conducted in collaboration with Academy for ICT skills and Development and CISCO Networking Academy in selected schools to offer an ‘IT Essentials’ course for teachers and students free of charge. The Bank has also supported the ‘IT Essentials-Instructor’ certificate course for teachers at the CISCO Networking Centre at the University of Moratuwa under this programme.
Cisco Networking Academy helps individuals prepare for industry-recognised certifications and entry level information and communication technology (ICT) careers in every type of industry. Students will earn foundational competencies in ICT while acquiring vital 21st century career skills in problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking.
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 10 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches and 890 ATMs in Sri Lanka.
Commercial 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.