Hatton National Bank PLC (HNB) its 200th school library was ceremoniously declared open by Mr A J Alles, Managing Director/CEO at the Kopai Nawalar Tamil Vidyalayam, Jaffna on 12 July 2013.
HNB when it embarked on a project to provide 100 libraries for some of the most deserving schools in remote areas of the country considered the venture more than just another CSR initiative. Achieving double the original target with the setting up of the 200th school library in Jaffna has seen over 50,000 children living in some of the most rural areas of Sri Lanka being given the opportunity to derive the simple pleasure of exploring the world through books.
The project which was the brain child of former Chairman of HNB, Mr.Rienzie Wijethilake, was commenced in the aftermath of the Tsunami in 2005 in the Southern province and was systematically expanded throughout the country. It was started with the intention of making a difference considering the lack of facilities and inhibition to education facilities faced by schools in rural areas. Many of these schools lacked even the basic facilities as well as a scarcity of teachers, resulting in poorly developed students. HNB's Nena Pubuduwa is thus not just a one-off venture but assistance that would make a lasting impression and a long-term difference in the lives of the beneficiaries.
The project was implemented on the premise that libraries with a good collection of wide-ranging books will promote self-study and enhance the minds of children. Further it allowed HNB to be part of a project that provided resources that would touch people's lives and inspire their imagination, learning and creativity.
The main objectives of the project include providing opportunities to under privileged children in rural schools to enhance knowledge and derive the simple pleasure of exploring the world through books with a special emphasis on stimulating a love of reading and learning in children; promote international and inter-cultural understanding and awareness, improve and expand knowledge of English thus creating opportunities for higher education and employment; to support and facilitate the teaching and learning activities of the School, by providing access to appropriate literature and information resources and to provide an appropriate and comfortable environment, accommodation and facilities for the use of Library resources, and for individual and group
Thus HNB has identified 200 of the most needy schools, with almost no library facilities and worked on fulfilling the need. The Bank mapped out the colossal project, and made the financial commitment with the willing support of its staff towards this groundbreaking venture that would change the lives of children around Sri Lanka. Staff members have willingly undertaken to visit schools off the beaten path and spent time with the teaching staff and parents to garner commitment for the project.
HNB has paid attention to the project in its entirety without merely donating a few books. It involves renovating and furnishing of a proper library facility for the children. HNB employees maintain close relationships with the school to ensure the continuity of the project. Maintenance work is carried out every year and the libraries are stocked with fresh collections on an annual basis. In addition to providing books worth millions of rupees on a diverse range of topics, book lists provided by the schools are supplied to meet the individual needs of each school.
The crucial factor of the project was identification of the most deserving schools that demonstrated a commitment towards the long-term continuance of the project. It was important to distinguish between initial enthusiasm and administration commitment shown by the schools. Interview of school authorities and past performance of the schools - our branch staff spend many weeks identifying the most deserving schools in the area.
Each library is also provided with computers and HNB has expanded this project further to include setting up of separate computer lab facilities and completed 21 such projects to date.
HNB, as Sri Lanka's largest private commercial bank with a history of over 124 years, invests in highly ambitious and wide-ranging CSR programmes, in the areas of Health, Education, Environment and Entrepreneurship. The Nena Pubuduwa school libraries are a signature project that has taken HNB's CSR to a new dimension.