On behalf of the ‘International Day of Education’ which was celebrated on the 24th of January, Room to Read Sri Lanka partnered with the Colombo Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell for trading. Room to Read marks this occasion as it approaches a significant milestone of transforming the lives of 40 million children across the globe through quality education in 2024.
Room to Read is a global nonprofit organization which creates a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality. It achieves this goal by helping children in historically low-income communities develop literacy skills and a habit of reading through its Literacy Program, and by supporting girls in secondary education with life skills and financial literacy via its Girls’ Education Program, as they build skills to succeed in school and negotiate key life decisions. It collaborates with governments and other partner organizations to deliver positive outcomes for children at scale.
Addressing the gathering, CSE’s Chairman, Dilshan Wirasekara mentioned that “We at CSE, believe that an increase in the level of financial literacy can contribute to the improvement of rationality in investment decision making which will ultimately contribute to the overall development of the economy. The Colombo Stock Exchange Education Academy was formed in this context, to institutionalize financial education in Sri Lanka.”
He went on to say, “We are proud to be one of the key institutions that drive financial education in Sri Lanka. Established in March 2023, CSE Education Academy has undertaken numerous successful initiatives in recent years and aims to continue advancing financial awareness among the general public with special attention to youth so that we may cultivate the minds of tomorrow’s investors.”
Keynote speaker Shevanthi Jayasuriya, Country Director of Room to Read Sri Lanka emphasized on how this year, Room to Read Sri Lanka will focus largely on scale up and system integration with the support of the Ministry of Education, beyond conducting their regular programs in under-resourced communities. Recently, Room to Read Sri Lanka renewed its MOU with the government, to continue their work together with the national and provincial ministries of education, to help children receive quality education.
As of last year, Room to Read has been at the forefront of modifying the existing primary grade curriculum with its Literacy Program, also known as the Reading Development Program in Sri Lanka, introducing the Early Grade Reading Assessment for grades 1, 2, and 3. This initiative aims to enhance literacy skills among young students and create a strong foundation for lifelong learning.
In her speech, Shevanthi also proudly announced the establishment of the National Consortium on Children’s Books in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka. This initiative brings together government and private sector leaders to set national standards for children’s books, ensuring a higher quality of reading materials for primary grade children across the country, while fostering the growth of the local publishing industry by providing essential training for young writers and illustrators.
Room to Read Sri Lanka is excited to expand its scope to the pre-school curriculum which started in 2023. This new venture involves comprehensive training programs for teachers, focusing on instilling a habit of reading in children even before they embark on their formal education.
The organization also discussed the ongoing success of its Girls’ Education Program, dedicated to equipping girls with essential life skills and financial literacy. This program is currently conducting formative research to extend mentoring support to the Ministry of Education’s psycho-social facilitation and counseling units, specifically catering to secondary education students in government schools. This strategic effort aims to enhance the holistic development of students. It is also in the forefront of progress, planning a global upgrade to its program by incorporating the vital subject of climate change. This forward-looking approach ensures that the next generation of young women is well-prepared to navigate the challenges posed by climate change.
Room to Read Sri Lanka’s Country Director, Shevanthi Jayasuriya, also spoke about Room to Read’s ‘She Creates Change,’ a multimedia storytelling initiative that amplifies the voices of girls worldwide. This comprehensive series, including animated and live-action films, books, and audio stories in collaboration with Rebel Girls publishers, centers around the transformative impact of Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program. Notably, the animation video depicting Dewmini’s story, a student from the Girls’ Education Program in Sri Lanka, received the esteemed Best Short Film for Children award at the Manchester Animation Festival in 2023.
Till now, Room to Read has worked in 21 countries globally. In Sri Lanka, Room to Read began its work in 2005 and has reached 1.8 million children through quality education.
As Room to Read continues its global mission, the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) has been working diligently in collaboration with several key stakeholders to enhance overall financial education in Sri Lanka.
To begin, CSE has forged partnerships with many financial professional bodies in Sri Lanka to cultivate financially literate professionals well-versed in current financial trends and developments.
Next, the CSE has focused their efforts on educating potential investors from a foundational level. For this purpose, two key areas that the CSE believe to be the most impactful have been targeted.
Firstly, for secondary school students, the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) along with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Presidential Secretariat as well as the Education Ministry of Sri Lanka, have initiated the establishment of Capital Market Clubs in 100 selected schools across the island to foster a dynamic learning environment that bridges the gap between theoretical instruction and real-world application in the realm of capital markets.
Secondly, in terms of higher education beyond the school level, CSE has partnered with state universities by signing MOUs to expand opportunities for the youth. These collaborations aim to promote capital market education among undergraduates by offering various mutually beneficial strategic initiatives. The CSE is proud to provide practical educational training and internship opportunities for promising undergraduates engaged in accountancy and finance, business management, and economics-related degree programs.
Finally, the CSE conducts a number of investor forums for professionals, business communities, existing and potential investors, and other market participants while primarily focusing on the general public of various regions in Sri Lanka. These forums provide valuable insights on investor education and investor protection. The forums attract hundreds of participants who are given the opportunity to meet investment advisors from stock brokerage firms and representatives of unit trust management companies. In addition to this, the Colombo Stock Exchange has conducted numerous virtual workshops beyond the regional limitations with the intention of reaching a larger audience.
Quality education serves as the cornerstone for building a more prosperous and productive society. It acts as a catalyst, breaking the chains of generational illiteracy and gender inequality, fostering unity among individuals, communities, and nations. The unwavering commitment of CSE and Room to Read to these noble objectives remains steadfast.