John Keells Foundation (JKF) launched the pilot of John Keells Praja Shakthi Digital Learning Initiative on 11th November 2021 in Ranala. As a medium-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project aims to facilitate online based learning of disadvantaged school children who are preparing for public examinations in the midst of the pandemic and mitigate the increase in inequalities in accessing educational opportunities.
The pilot project involves the distribution of a total of 100 Samsung A8 tabs and data packages to selected O’Level and A’Level students in John Keells Praja Shakthi locations in Colombo 2 and Ranala for the duration of the respective course of study. JKF is partnered in this initiative by Deutsche Bank as co-funder and John Keells Office Automation (JKOA) and Dialog Axiata PLC as suppliers of devices and data packages respectively at concessionary rates. Elephant House was the logistics partner for the Ranala event.
During the simple event held at the Elephant House Factory in Ranala in compliance with COVID-19 protocols, 50 tabs were distributed to selected O’Level students from four government schools, namely, Dedigamuwa K.V, Dewamitta M.V, Munidasa Kumarathunga Vidyalaya and Philip Thilakawardhane M.V.
Addressing the gathering, JKF’s Head of Operations, Ms. Carmeline Jayasuriya said, “John Keells Foundation decided to initiate this project taking into account the numerous hardships faced by school children, especially in examination years, to pursue their education amidst the pandemic including school closures and the challenges in accessing online education due to the unaffordability of devices and data. We are delighted to be partnered by responsible corporates such as Deutsche Bank, JKOA and Dialog Axiata in this pilot initiative. Whilst all of us consider this as an investment on the education of our youth, we firmly hope that you, the beneficiary students, will optimize this opportunity to pursue your educational endeavours responsibly.”
The event was also graced by Chathura Mihidum, Divisional Secretary, Kaduwela, Ms. Anuradha Samarakoon, Divisional Education Director, Ranala, Daminda Gamlath, John Keells Group President – Consumer Foods, Sanjeewa Jayasundara, CCS’ Head of Operations – Supply Chain, Pasan Jayasinghe – Vice President Deutsche Bank and Harsha De Zoysa – Senior Sector Manager, Large Enterprise, Dialog Axiata PLC.
The distribution to Colombo students took place on 22nd November at Cinnamon Grand, the logistics partner for the event.
The project is designed so that tabs will be re-pooled after the completion of the recipients’ study course to benefit another cohort of deserving students. To ensure the due use of the device and enhance the impact of this intervention, JKF will be monitoring the educational progress of the students through the school principals as well as backend mechanisms.
John Keells Praja Shakthi is a sustainable community empowerment project initiated by JKF in and around the John Keells Group’s business locations through strategic interventions. The multistakeholder collaboration on the new project is a testament to the strength of partnerships in empowering communities through sustainable initiatives.
Education is one of the six focus areas of John Keells Foundation – the CSR entity of John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), a company listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange operating over 70 companies in 7 diverse industry sectors. With a history of over 150 years, John Keells Group provides employment to over 14,000 persons and has been ranked as Sri Lanka’s ‘Most Respected Entity’ for the last 16 Years by LMD Magazine. Whilst being a full member of the World Economic Forum and a Participant of the UN Global Compact, JKH drives its CSR vision of “Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow” through John Keells Foundation and through the social entrepreneurship initiative,
‘Plasticcycle’, which is a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.