Students from poverty-stricken families could be in for a new start in life by way of an innovative insurance solution from Ceylinco General Insurance which has come up with a one-of-a-kind CSR initiative so they can continue their schooling.
Under a pilot project called ‘Ceylinco VIP Akurata Saviyak’ some 1000 handpicked students from grade six upwards will be provided with a monthly allowance of Rs.1500 rupees each throughout the year in the Moneragala district.
Speaking to the Nation, the Chief Executive Officer of Ceylinco General Insurance Ajith Gunawardena said that this was a venture that they started with no publicity or mileage of any sort and added that the sole objective of ‘Ceylinco VIP Akurata Saviyak’ was to encourage students to keep attending school.
“What inspired me to start this project was when I was recently talking to a principal of a school in Mount Lavinia. I was shocked to learn that there were a large number of students who could not afford more than one meal per day,” revealed Gunawardena.
“The principal wanted a little help to have the school colour-washed, but at this point. I wanted to do so much more.”
Accordingly, Gunarwardena together with Rex Gunatilleke, Deputy Chief Operations Officer conceptualized ‘Ceylinco VIP Akurata Saviyak’ with the blessings of the staff.
Some of the staff members have even come forward and made contributions for this worthy cause out of their own pockets.
When asked how they arrived at the figure of Rs.1500 as the allowance, Gunawardena said that although it may feel meager to someone from an urban setting, a child in a rural village can do a considerable amount of things with that amount of money.
“At the very least, the child can eat one meal (with the money),” he said. He said that they planned to expand the project to all parts of the country and adjust the allowance as and when they progress. “We needed to start somewhere and start soon,” Guwardena added.
A sum of Rs.18 million has been allocated for the scheme and Gunawardena said that what made this initiative different from any of their previous CSR projects or anything anybody does for that matter is that this is will go on continuously as long as the company will be in existence.
Gunatilake said that the project will also benefit families where either one or both parents are dead. He said the allowance will be credited to their bank accounts every month and this will go on until they complete their school education.
If a student drops out of school under any circumstance, the allowance will stop too. “The objective”, he reiterated “is to make sure students complete their education”.
Both Gunawardena and Gunatilake said that in the long run they planned to absorb some of these beneficiaries into their own staff in a win-win scenario.
Gunawardena said that the dropout rate in the villages remained high due to extreme poverty levels. Despite that however, he said that some of the members from his very staff who do exceptionally well are sometimes those who come from such backgrounds.
They are determined, adaptable and resilient and therefore with a little help, Gunawardena believed that youngsters from villages have the potential to achieve great things.
‘Ceylinco VIP Akurata Saviya’ will be officially launched on February 23 in Moneragala with the participation of Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam.