- The aim is to empower future generations with modern technology and financial literacy.
- From next year, Central Bank report will be discussed in schools- President.
In a strategic move toward a developed Sri Lanka by 2048, President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized the dual importance of technology and financial literacy for the next generations. Speaking at the inauguration of the ‘Capital Market Club’ program in Kandy’s Nugawela Central College today, President Wickremesinghe disclosed key plans for this transformative journey.
Among the President’s notable announcements was the integration of the Central Bank’s reports into schools for discussion. To facilitate this, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is set to introduce a comprehensive training program for teachers and student leaders. This initiative aims to bolster awareness of the stock market and enhance financial literacy among students across the nation.
The collaborative effort behind this program involves the Presidential Secretariat, the Ministry of Education, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Colombo Stock Exchange. These institutions have joined forces to execute President Wickremesinghe’s vision, with the ultimate goal of cultivating an informed and financially aware younger generation.
During the ceremony, President Wickremesinghe presented the charter certificate and a substantial grant of Rs. 100,000 to Principal Dhammika Bandara, marking the establishment of the Capital Market Club at the Nugawela Central College. Moreover, the President handed over a compilation of knowledge-packed books on ‘Capital Market Clubs’ to Mrs. Achini Kanitiwela, who is spearheading the subject.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Education M.M. Ranasinghe, Securities and Exchange Commission Director General Chinthaka Mendis and Colombo Stock Exchange Chief Executive Officer Rajiva Bandaranaike signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on this program.
The artistic contributions of the college’s art teacher, Mrs. Nayana Wijekoon, were also acknowledged with the presentation of a portrait of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe further said;
“The world will pass us by if we rotate in one place,” emphasized the Minister of Education during his speech, where he referenced the lyrics of a song. With this perspective in mind, we are launching this program today.
For a considerable period, we operated within the paradigms of the industrial age that characterized the mid-20th century and these principles infiltrated our political landscape. The outcomes of this approach don’t need elaboration.
In the years 2021 and 2022, our nation faced the dual challenges of economic distress and the Covid epidemic, leading us to a state of economic insolvency. However, I have initiated a program to rescue our country from this dire situation. It is noteworthy that our government is successfully navigating this endeavour.
Our focus must now shift towards advancing without regressing into the abyss that threatens our nation’s progress. It’s imperative to decide whether we should persist with mid-20th century policies or chart a new course with fresh perspectives. Adhering to outdated methods would jeopardize our country’s very existence, considering the significant gap between our current state and our desired destination.
Equally crucial is ensuring that the upcoming generation, entrusted with the country’s future, does not inherit such a predicament. Thus, embarking on a technological journey becomes imperative. The technological strides of the 21st century need no introduction.
Recalling our school days, where a telephone in every village was a distant dream, it’s striking to observe that today, mobile phones are omnipresent. Some individuals even possess multiple devices. Such is the transformation.
While embracing this change, it is paramount to introduce modern technology to our nation. Substantial efforts are already underway, both within the Ministry of Education and various research institutes. Consequently, determining the implementation of new technological methods becomes a pivotal task. From blockchain technology to artificial intelligence and genome science, we must forge ahead with these innovations.
Crucially, these advancements should reach rural communities. Our initiative to modernize agriculture aims to bring these technologies closer to home. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that technology alone is insufficient. These endeavours require financial support within a society that operates on monetary transactions. The current governmental landscape lacks the means to entirely govern monetary utilization and this holds true on both the domestic and international fronts.
In the past, the digital realm was a distant concept. It was in 1993 that I signed the agreement to introduce the internet to Sri Lanka. Until then, these possibilities were alien to us. Thanks to this new technology, we have swiftly connected with the global community.
In today’s competitive economic climate, financial systems operate without heeding national boundaries. Whether favourable or not, we must adapt within these constraints. The global economy draws its sustenance from various sources, including banks and stock markets. Money serves as the driving force.
Ultimately, it’s essential to acknowledge the pivotal role of money. Similar to the private sector, the government also engages with the money market and issues Treasury Bonds. Today, our objective is to acquaint you with this methodology, marking the initial step in this educational journey.
Furthermore, my aspiration is to introduce discussions on the Central Bank report within schools starting from the upcoming year. I am actively engaging with the Ministry of Finance in this endeavour. To facilitate this, we are equipping both teachers and student leaders with training, while also garnering support from bank officials.
This initiative underscores the need for familiarity with contemporary methods. Our focus extends beyond the mere dissemination of knowledge; it encompasses financial literacy and securities education that should reach even the most remote villages. Talented individuals reside within these communities and it is incumbent upon us to provide them with the essential training.
Simultaneously, we must recognize that today’s world operates as a single market. To align with this reality, we are in the process of signing multiple free trade agreements. Deliberations are ongoing with nations such as Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Malaysia and Vietnam. Anticipated expansions into new markets encompass East Asia, South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Additionally, conversations are underway with the European Union to explore potential facilities. In a fortnight, a delegation from the United States will be visiting our nation for discussions. Hence, a comprehensive awareness of the global market and these agreements becomes paramount.
The emerging economy we are shaping is both environmentally conscious and digitally driven. Within the framework of this green and digital economy, securities hold their place. This paradigm shift introduces novel approaches. Complementing this transition, our focus extends to an offshore economy. Discussions involving specialized bar associations in London are shaping the corresponding legal landscape. A critical decision lies before us: whether to embrace these pioneering economic systems or remain in stagnation.
In a decade or so, a significant majority of our populace will fall within the 25-35 age bracket. Today, the imperative to chart one’s future looms large. We provide the essential knowledge, but the hands-on application lies in your hands. This program has been inaugurated today.
Currently, we’ve selected 100 schools for participation, with intentions to expand this number subsequently. I urge the stock market and the Securities Exchange Commission to actively collaborate and extend their involvement. I request their engagement in overseeing one or two of these associations, providing their valuable support.
A seed fund of Rs.10 million has been allocated for the program’s initiation. Accordingly, each school will receive Rs. 100,000. I beseech that we confine this financial aspect to this amount. After a year has elapsed, we will evaluate the successful implementation of this program by each school.
The winning school, along with its subject teacher and 10 students, will be rewarded with a trip to Singapore to study the workings of its stock market for a brief period. Hence, I emphasize the need to limit the monetary allocation to Rs. 100,000. This rule applies uniformly, irrespective of whether the school is located in an underprivileged or affluent area. Additionally, we aspire to extend opportunities to the second and third-place contenders. This endeavour aligns with our mission to bring the new economy to the grassroots level.
With this challenge, I entrust you as part of the grand vision to transform our country into a developed nation by 2048. My heartfelt gratitude extends to all those who have contributed to and orchestrated this endeavour.
While visiting Nugawela Central today, I was reminded of another significant chapter in our educational history. It was during that time that the concept of middle schools was introduced and subsequently adopted by the State Council under the leadership of the then Minister of Education, C.W.W. Kannangara. This initiative faced backlash, as evidenced by his defeat in the parliamentary elections by the people of Horana.
Such challenges are an integral part of an education minister’s journey. In contrast, D.S. Senanayake, the subsequent Prime Minister of the following government, assumed office. Mr. Nugawela, affectionately known as Mr. A.D. Nugawela, was appointed as the Minister of Education. He played a pivotal role in establishing 50 schools and we extend our gratitude for founding 49 additional schools in addition to Nugawela Central College. It is with a deep sense of contentment that I embark on this new program within a school that he had envisioned and established.”
Addressing the gathering, Dr. Susil Premajayanth, the Minister of Education, underscored the origins of STEM education stemming from a survey conducted in the United States of America in 1999. This educational framework was subsequently introduced by 2003 and its global adoption is evident with approximately a hundred nations currently implementing this system. Reflecting this trend, the nation has embarked upon the incorporation of STEM education.
While these educational models demonstrate theoretical worth within the limits of the classroom, the challenges lie in their practical implementation. A notable concern arises from the observation that a substantial number of students lack comprehension in areas such as cheques and bills of exchange. The disconnection between classroom instruction and real-world applications becomes apparent, particularly in fields like commerce. Despite the presence of numerous commercial banks within Sri Lanka, students studying commerce seldom gain hands-on exposure to banking operations. The limited accessibility to the intricacies of the capital market poses another challenge.
To address these gaps, a pioneering initiative is being launched today. This initiative aims to equip school leavers with substantial knowledge to engage as informed investors. By bridging the gap between theoretical instruction and practical experience, this project seeks to empower students with a profound understanding of investment dynamics and the workings of the capital market.
Mr. Randula Abeyweera, the Presidential Director of Youth Affairs and Sustainable Development, metaphorically conveyed the notion that a small seed sown in the ground can eventually grow into a towering tree, providing shade to countless individuals. This metaphor serves as a symbolic inspiration for the current endeavour taking place within capital market schools.
Aligned with the visionary principles set forth by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, a comprehensive strategy has been devised to establish capital market clubs within educational institutions. This strategic initiative has been set in motion, starting with the meticulous selection of 100 schools based on their outstanding performance in the commercial sector as gauged by A-level results. This discerning approach aims to foster a dynamic learning environment that bridges the gap between theoretical instruction and real-world application in the realm of capital markets.
Mr. Rajiva Bandaranaike, the Chief Executive Officer of the Colombo Stock Exchange, expressed the profound significance of the Capital Market Club’s inauguration, in alignment with the visionary principles championed by the President. This club, which was launched today, is aptly characterized as an investment in the future. The gravity of this initiative is underscored by the collaborative effort involving four prominent national institutions. The understanding that collective endeavours yield greater outcomes than individual pursuits is at the core of this strategic move.
The overarching objectives encompass expanding the participation base within the capital market domain, fostering synergistic educational collaborations and establishing distinguished financial educational brands. By embarking on this journey, the initial stride has been taken toward translating this visionary concept into tangible action. This step symbolizes a deliberate commitment to driving transformative change within the realm of financial education and engagement.
Mr. Faisal Saleh, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka, emphasized the paramount significance of financial literacy in the context of capital market involvement. He noted a prevalent lack of knowledge concerning financial literacy within the region. In response, the establishment of these Capital Market Clubs has been undertaken to provide comprehensive insights into the prudent utilization of money. By introducing these educational platforms within the school framework, students can acquire a foundational understanding of financial matters directly within the academic environment. Notably, students have exhibited keen interest in this subject matter.
Schools have orchestrated plans to disseminate this valuable knowledge to students starting from the 6th grade onwards. The Ministry of Education and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka play pivotal roles in directly facilitating this initiative. Furthermore, arrangements are in place to conduct seminars targeting school students in the future, augmenting their financial literacy journey. The hope is to garner support from key figures, such as the President and the Minister of Education, to incorporate this subject into the revised school syllabus.
The event witnessed the presence of Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, State Ministers Lohan Ratwatte, Dilum Amunugama, Member of Parliament Gunathilaka Rajapaksa, Central Province Governor Lalith U. Gamage, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Chairman of the Colombo Stock Exchange Dilshan Weerasekera, along with government officials, Principals, teachers, students and a diverse assembly of attendees.