John Keells Foundation opened a new chapter in its neighbourhood schools development project with the launch of a career guidance and vocational training initiative aimed to benefit school leavers of five Government schools in Slave Island which have been supported by the group over the past several years.
A stakeholder engagement involving parents of children due to sit for the O/ Level examination in 2012 at Al Iqbal Muslim Balika Vidyalaya, Holy Rosary Sinhala Vidyalaya, Holy Rosary Tamil Vidyalaya, Siri Sariputta Maha Vidyalaya and T.B. Jayah Maha Vidyalaya, together with principals and senior teachers of the schools and representatives of the John Keells Group was conducted on 9 November 2012 at Al Iqbal Muslim Balika Vidyalaya.
Introducing the program, CSR at John Keells Foundation Head of Operations Carmeline Jayasuriya stated, “The career guidance and vocational training initiative is meant to enhance the vision, attitudes, skills, exposure and employability of students passing out of the schools in our neighbourhood who do not have the opportunity to pursue higher education. We sincerely urge you as parents to make best use of this opportunity by learning details about this initiative and enrolling your children for it.”
Representatives from group HR, Cinnamon Grand, Cinnamon Lakeside, JayKay Marketing (Keells Super) and John Keells Logistics made presentations providing details of the initiative and the skills and career prospects relating to the respective businesses. All presenters emphasised the need for students to give priority to studies, including Advanced Levels and professional and vocational training, towards enhancing their opportunities for gainful employment.
The career guidance program for students completing the O/Level in December 2012 is scheduled to be held in January 2013. Meanwhile, the vocational training initiative is planned to be conducted thereafter for the benefit of a select number of students attending the career guidance program who do not qualify for advanced level or other studies and will be conducted at the group’s premier hotels Cinnamon Grand and Cinnamon Lakeside exposing the youth to a wide range of departments and functions in the hospitality industry over a period of six months.
The positive feedback of the parents was encouraging with many enrolling their children for the program.
Speaking on behalf of the schools on the occasion, Principal of T B Jayah Maha Vidyalaya Nazeera Hassanar said, “We are deeply grateful to John Keells for this far sighted initiative to support the employment prospects of students passing out of our schools and entering the world of work.”
The career guidance and vocational training initiative is part of the many development activities rolled out by John Keells Foundation with the support of Group companies in the five public schools located within close proximity to the group’s head office and business locations in Slave Island. The John Keells Group realised the need to support better schooling facilities for children from these schools towards enhancing the future prospects of these children and also the general social and economic wellbeing of the surrounding community.
Since 2003/04, Group companies have been supporting the development and maintenance of infrastructure and educational facilities of these schools. The project is implemented with the support of the CSR teams of Cinnamon Grand Colombo and Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo.
The initial project focus was on infrastructure development in the schools towards creating an environment more conducive for learning including the improving facilities for water and sanitation, science, home science and computer science as well as classroom infrastructure.
The present focus is to improve the educational opportunities available to the students of these schools which cater to a mixed student population representing all communities and religions. Since 2006, eligible students of the schools have benefited from scholarships awarded under JKF’s English Language Scholarship Program. Computer equipment has been donated to all the schools while Al Iqbal MBV has been provided sewing machines to enhance vocational training facilities for its girl students. Moreover, in June 2012, at the recommendation of the Director of Zonal Education and with the support of the school principals, JKF initiated a two-day workshop benefiting 100 Sinhala medium students and 50 Tamil medium students sitting for the Grade five scholarship examination in these schools which proved to have had a direct positive impact on the performance of the students at the public examination. John Keells volunteers have supported the CSR initiatives in these schools through various means, including the conduct of computer classes, art competitions aimed at raising environmental awareness and shramadhana activities within the schools.