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Atlas: Leading a national effort to support the education of underprivileged children

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Atlas, Sri Lanka’s leading children’s stationer and learning brand, recently hosted a virtual panel discussion to bring awareness to the plight of over 22,000 underprivileged children in Sri Lanka who drop out of school every year due to the loss of parents and economic difficulties. This number recorded by the Department of Census and Statistics is projected to have been further exacerbated by the conditions brought in by the pandemic, resulting in a negative impact on the children’s skills and economic prospects for the rest of their lives.

The discussion was supported by the Atlas SipSavi Scholarship Programme, which was initiated in collaboration with the Department of Probation and Childcare Services, to provide financial assistance for children in need to continue their education until they reach their key educational milestone – the Ordinary Level examination.

Presenting the causes, cases and solutions to this under reported yet, very serious social issue to members of the media present in the forum, and calling upon them to amplify the conversation amongst the public was Sandareka Liyanage, Assistant Commissioner at the Department of Probation and Childcare Services, State Ministry of Women and Child Development, Pre School and Primary Education, School Infrastructure and School Services; Shanthi Seneviratne, Additional Director, Southern Province Education Department and Principal of Southlands College, Galle and Asitha Samaraweera, Managing Director, Atlas Axillia.

Speaking first, Sandareka Liyanage, explained the reasons behind children dropping out of school. “Some children from economically challenged households feel they can make a better contribution to their home by working, while others are directed to do so by their parents,” she said, adding that sometimes older children remain home to care for younger siblings.

“It is a basic right of a child to receive an education, and we must do everything we can to ensure it. I really appreciate the efforts of private companies such as Atlas that have generously offered scholarships for students with the sole intention of ensuring that they stay in school until their Ordinary Level examination. Keeping children in school protects them from being misled and taking up inappropriate and illegal means of earning and for this reason and many others, it will have a massive positive impact on their entire life,” stated Sandareka Liyanage.

“Education is the backbone of the country,” said Shanthi Seneviratne. “Children drop out of school mainly due to financial issues, or social situations where the mother leaves the country, or even due to the ignorance of parents on the vital importance of education.” Such children join the workforce and then, it becomes very difficult to convince them to return to school, Seneviratne said, adding that the Department of Education has many programmes to tackle this issue.

The Atlas SipSavi Scholarship Programme was launched in partnership with the Department of Probation and Childcare Services in 2019. With priority given to the students who are vulnerable to dropping out of school due to loss of either both or one of their parents, children in grade groups of 07 to 11 are selected by a committee to receive a monthly financial scholarship to continue their education. Stakeholders from the Department of Probation and Childcare Services as well as representatives of Atlas keep track of the children’s progress.



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CSE Director Board appoints new chairman

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The Chairman of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) Dumith Fernando who has served in this role since July 01, 2020, has informed the Board of his intention to retire by rotation on June 23, 2022 at the conclusion of his current term as a Director. Subsequently, at its regular monthly board meeting held on May 19th, 2022, the Board of the CSE has elected Director Dilshan Wirasekara to succeed Fernando as Chairman with effect from June 24th, 2022. Wirasekara is currently Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Capital Holdings PLC.According to the Articles of Association of the CSE, it’s Chair is chosen from among the five Directors elected by the members of the CSE. The appointment of Wirasekara is in line with the CSE’s normal board succession practice.

The outgoing Chairman Fernando said that “We are very pleased with the advancement of the CSE in the last 2 years. The market has set records across capital raising, trading volumes and participation alongside significant wealth creation for investors. The CSE is also financially stronger than it has ever been, and I am pleased to hand over my role following the institution’s highest-ever profitability and capital reserves position. Credit for this is due to my fellow board members, management and staff as well as all those stakeholders who collaborated with us including our regulator the Securities & Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka and the stock broking and investor communities.”

Commenting on the appointment of his successor, he further stated “I have had the pleasure of serving as a Director with Dilshan for five years where he has been a critical and energetic member of the board. The board and I have full confidence that he will continue to work with all stakeholders to build on our recent efforts to transform into a modern-day multi-product exchange. I look forward to supporting Dilshan over the next few weeks to ensure a smooth transition.”Wirasekara thanked both the outgoing chairman for his leadership of the CSE over the last 2 years and the CSE Board for the confidence placed in him. He further stated, “I hope to continue the good progress at the CSE and look forward to working with the Board and the CSE team together with the regulator and the industry to advance our ambitious capital market development plans.”

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SLIM Research Bureau embarks on a mission to promote fair trade in Sri Lanka

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As corporates and consumers globally are shifting towards best practices such as sustainability, inclusivity, and most importantly, equality to all, “fairness” has become a significant part of how business and buyer decisions are made.With this in mind, SLIM Research Bureau, the research arm associated with the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM), recently signed an agreement with Fairtrade NAPP at SLIM Home, in aspiration of promoting fair trade and consumption of fairly traded products in the local market of Sri Lanka.Through this collaboration, SLIM Research Bureau and Fairtrade intends to launch a project – named “SRI-PROM” funded by AICS, the Italian Agency for Development Co-operation, and supported by Fairtrade Italy – that aims to contribute to the social and economic strengthening of rural areas in Sri Lanka, through the development of much more profitable eco-sustainable supply chains for small farmers.

Commenting on the partnership, SLIM President Mr. Nuwan Gamage stated: “SLIM is thrilled to enter into this milestone partnership with Fairtrade NAPP to instil globally accepted best practices within the corporate circle that help achieve fair, equitable trade relationships. The project will be the first step in inviting businesses across industries to become a trailblazer that sets an example both in Sri Lanka and around the world. We look forward to expand these efforts further in the days to come.”The modern concept of fair trade refers to the ethical and sustainable sourcing of products, where workers and farmers at the foundational level of supply and value chains are treated fairly. This, in turn, offers consumers a powerful opportunity to reduce poverty through their purchases.

Fairtrade International Programme Consultant for Sri Lanka, Standards Committee Chair, and Oversight Committee Asia-Pacific Representative Mrs. Iresha Sanjeewanie noted: “Fairtrade takes a 360-degree approach to address a number of different issues and developmental challenges faced by small-scale producers and workers. Though Fairtrade Standards are a glum eye-opener into the implications of unfair trade, in a broader sense, it advocates reform-oriented research and pushes to raise the bar in trade.”

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Bank of Ceylon sponsors Annual Sand Paving Ceremony at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Temple Anuradhapura

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Invoking the blessings of the sacred “Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi” situated in the historic city of Anuradhapura, on the country and on all its citizens, for peace, harmony and prosperity, the Bank of Ceylon conducted its annual ceremony of strewing fresh sand which is known as “weli Athirime Pinkama” in “Uda Maluwa” recently.

The ceremony took place with the participation of the Bank’s General Manager K.E.D. Sumanasiri, DGM Corporate and Offshore Banking Priyal Silva, DGM Human Resource Dhamma Wijeyawardhene, DGM Branch operations and Development Banking Nilantha Meneripitiyage, AGM North Central Province Mahinda Bandara, AGM Marketing Aruna Hettiarachchi, AGM North Western Mrs.Ruchindra Perera and other staff members. The event was organized by the Bank’s Assistant General Manager North Central Province (NCP) G.K.G. Mahinda Bandara and staff members of the NCP province with the guidance of the Atamasthanadipathi of Anuradhapura, the Most Venerable Dr. Pallegama Siriniwasa Thero.

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