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‘New opportunities,transforming children from low – income families’

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“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”- Malcom X

By Manique Mendis

Mothers, fathers and teachers were engaged in serious discussion. Their happiness eclipsed the acute economic problems they faced. They were filled with gratitude. They were filled with hope. They were convinced at last that their dreams for their precious children could be realized!

The object of their discussion and center of their focus was a school bus. It was a brand-new bus. It made a world of difference to them.

In schools in Sri Lanka where the majority of students came from low-income families, parents grapple with myriad problems in providing books, stationery, uniforms, shoes, meals and other basic needs for their children.

Such parents cannot afford the luxury of meeting the high costs for transport for children to take part in extra-curricular activities, competitions, educational excursions and special events in locations far away from the school premises.

There are many school events at district, provincial and national level that the children are selected to participate in.

Unfortunately, however talented the children maybe, the parents can only afford to eke out their meagre income to send their children for few external events. The children thus lack the opportunities to maximize their potential to shine.

A school bus maybe envisaged by more fortunate members of society as something mundane and not essential for an economically disadvantaged school.

However, the receipt of a gift of a magnificent new bus to such a school, is a transformational opportunity for the children, parents and teachers.

TAKING OWNERSHIP TO SAFEGUARD AND MAKE MAXIMUM USE OF THE BUS

The parents and teachers take ownership of their new treasure. They see it as the means of opening up a whole new world of opportunity for their beloved children to participate in sports and educational activities that were hitherto mostly beyond their reach.

The parent and teachers step in to safeguard and make optimum use of the new bus. They get together and build a shed to protect it from the elements.

Fathers who have licenses volunteer to drive the bus when needed. Others volunteer to clean it regularly and ensure it is kept spick and span. Parents who are mechanics oversee the maintenance and repairs.

On 27, August, 2023, the students of Reggie Ranatunga College, Minuangoda received the gift of a brand-new bus for their school. On 14 September, the students of Kalutara Muslim Maha Vidyalaya will receive their gift of a school bus.

The gift of a school bus, came through the Sakwala programme of Opposition leader, Sajith Premadasa. Sakwala is an initiative by Sajith Premadasa which empowers Sri Lankan schools and schoolchildren with smart classes and computers in order to gear them up for the digital revolution.  Sakwala also makes provision for the donation of buses to needy schools. This programme implemented by Opposition leader, Sajith Premadasa in pursuance of his mission in investing in education for the future of Sri Lanka, empowering children from all strata of society

The bus gifted to Reggie Ranatunga College was the seventy sixth (76) bus gifted to a school under the Sakwala programmme. Kalutara Muslim Maha Vidyalaya will receive the seventy seventh (77) bus.

TRANSPARENT PROCESS MOTIVATING PRIVATE DONORS

“The buses are donated by international and national donors who are convinced about Sajith Premadasa’s ability to lead and develop Sri Lanka”, said a recent donor of a bus who wanted to remain anonymous.

He went on to explain that the process of donation is transparent and devoid of middle men.

“I paid the fee to buy the bus, directly to the vendor. The school welcomed the gift with great joy. They arranged for it to be blessed by religious dignitaries and invited Sajith Premadasa for a ceremony they organized to receive it officially.” he explained.

Philanthropists who see for themselves the transformation of lives of children with the gift of the school bus, are motivated to donate buses, adding to Sajith Premadasa’s vision to donate 100 buses to needy schools before long.

Even as Sri Lanka is grappling with an economic and political crisis, it is indeed encouraging to witness how bright young children from poverty – stricken families are being given a hand through the Sakwala programme to maximize their talents and emerge as young leaders who will take over the reins of Sri Lanka someday.



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Business

HNB renews partnership with Prime Group for exclusive home loans

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HNB Assistant General Manager - PFS, Kanchana Karunagama (fourth from left) and Prime Group Director – Corporate Affairs, Nalinda Heenatigala (fifth from left) exchanging the MoU in the presence of other officials

Paving the path for aspiring homeowners, Sri Lanka’s leading private sector bank, HNB PLC, renewed its long-standing partnership with local real estate giant Prime Group to offer investors exclusive deals and benefits.

The partnership will offer customers a range of benefits, including special interest rates during the September and October promotional period. The exclusive offer extends to all properties across Prime Group’s extensive portfolio, including highly anticipated Prime Residencies projects, such as The Grand Ward Place, The Beachfront Uswetakeiyawa II and 43 by the Sea on Marine Drive, Dehiwala.

“Building your own home in Sri Lanka can be quite a challenge. The escalating costs of construction, driven by rising inflation, have added to the struggle. We at HNB remain steadfast in our commitment to empower every Sri Lankan to own a home of their own. As such, we are delighted to partner with Prime Group again to offer our customers affordable financing options and exceptional services,” HNB Assistant General Manager – Personal Financial Services (PFS), Kanchana Karunagama, said.

Delivering the best value to its customers, HNB will offer special interest rates during the promotional period. Prospective homeowners can make use of convenient and flexible repayment options tailor-made to their budgets, together with doorstep mortgage advisory services provided by the Bank’s dedicated agents, who will assist with the legal documentation needed for the facility.

“As Prime Group, our mission is to empower Sri Lankans with the chance to achieve homeownership, allowing them to find stability and make the most of these challenging times. Therefore, it is a pleasure for us to partner with HNB in serving our customers,” Prime Group Director – Corporate Affairs Nalinda Heenatigala said.

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SLT-MOBITEL empowers Apple iPhone users across Sri Lanka to embrace 5G revolution

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SLT-MOBITEL is providing a groundbreaking opportunity, enabling customers with latest Apple iPhone devices to experience the best of 5G technology through its state-of-the-art 5G trial network. Apple users who have 5G compatible iPhone devices and with the latest iOS 17 update can now experience 5G when they are in a SLT-MOBITEL 5G trial zone.

Recognising 5G as a game-changer, SLT-MOBITEL was the first to trial 5G technology in South Asia in 2018 and has been at the forefront of the 5G revolution in Sri Lanka ever since. Recently, SLT-MOBITEL expanded its 5G pre-commercial trial network across main cities including Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Galle, and Jaffna, setting pathways for customers to seamlessly explore the possibilities of 5G technology.

Celebrating the new offering, SLT-MOBITEL is providing its customers with an amazing 10GB of free trial data on the lightning-fast 5G network. The trial data allows users to explore the capabilities of 5G without an initial cost and harness the full power of 5G technology, unlocking a world of new possibilities.SLT-MOBITEL extends a special invitation to customers who own 5G enabled iPhone 12 devices and beyond, to seize this exciting opportunity and become part of the 5G revolution by updating their eligible iOS device.

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SLPA poised as an exemplary model for SOEs, says its chairman

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A group photograph taken at the Annual Performance Review Meeting (APRM) of SLPA

Keith D. Bernard – the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), welcoming the attendees as chair, made this comments at the Annual Performance Review Meeting (APRM) of SLPA for the year 2022. The meeting was held on September 14, 2023, at its headquarters in Colombo.Entities incorporated under any statute other than the Companies Act must have an APRM every year where the annual report is presented. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was established under Act No. 51 of 1970.

In terms of the Guidelines for Corporate Governance of PED Circular No. 1/2021 dated November 16, 2021, it is important that the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) maintain continuous communication with their stakeholders at all times through mandatory requirements such as the Annual Report. Such disclosure of information ensures transparency and accountability without compromising any statutory or operational requirements of the entity.

Speaking at the event, the Chairman of SLPA expressed his perspective on the organisation’s future direction. He acknowledged SLPA’s recent achievements and progress in completing the East Container Terminal (ECT) and stressed the need for strategic planning with government support for the future.

“At present, SLPA serves as the regulator, operator, and landlord of our ports. In our capacity as the landlord, we possess assets throughout the country, and all commercial ports fall under the purview of SLPA. Additionally, we compete directly with private operators as operators ourselves. Therefore, we must carefully consider whether our role as operators should remain independent or involve collaboration with other operators. It’s crucial that we approach this strategically and define our precise role in this sector for the future,” he said.

Bernard also highlighted the significance of conducting a self-assessment in the pursuit of good governance within the organisation.

“We have commendable ministerial support and boast a talented team of dedicated professionals who tirelessly work towards the success of our port. While we have encountered challenges in the past, we are confident that, leveraging our strengths, we can overcome any hurdles. SLPA has the potential to serve as an exemplary model for the private sector, leading the way and becoming a guiding beacon for all institutions in Sri Lanka,” he said.

The Additional Director General of the Department of Public Enterprises – B.A.T. Rodrigo, commenting at the event, mentioned that in comparison to the other state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Sri Lanka, SLPA is the leading SOE amongst them and has been a role model to other SOEs. He wished SLPA would continue doing so in the future. He also thanked the Chairman, the Board of Directors, and the Management of SLPA for arranging the APRM adhering to the good governance guidelines.

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