John Keells Foundation’s English Language Scholarship Programme Marks 20 Years of ‘Empowering the Nation’

Launched in 2004, the John Keells English Language Scholarship Programme (JKELSP) marks its 20th anniversary of enhancing the English language skills of schoolchildren and youth across Sri Lanka. This flagship initiative under JKF’s Education focus aims to empower children and youth from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds with English, IT, and career skills towards improving their higher education and career opportunities in today’s competitive world. Aligned with national priorities, initiatives under the programme have been implemented in all the provinces of the country.

Implemented in collaboration with Gateway Language Centre, JKELSP has evolved significantly, introducing various educational pathways tailored to meet the diverse needs of its beneficiaries. Commencing with a 2-year EdExcel Diploma in 2004, the programme has moved on to include a range of courses, such as foundation-level, pre and post-advanced level programmes for school children, Immersion Camps for university students, and customised programmes for Persons with Disabilities and working adults.

At the heart of JKELSP lies its flagship initiative, “English for Teens,” offering over 800 scholarships annually to students aged 12-14 from mid-range government schools nominated by the principals of the respective schools and selected through a placement test. Learning outcomes are benchmarked via both a course-end examination and English Day events. High-performing scholars have the opportunity for natural progression to advanced levels.

Commenting on JKELSP’s milestone, Carmeline Jayasuriya, Head of CSR of the John Keells Group, stated, “It is heartening to see the strides that JKELSP has made over the past two decades, impacting the lives of 20,931 persons from various parts of the country. The greater satisfaction is in witnessing how this programme has become a pathway for our scholars to confidently pursue their university education and/or careers of choice.”

Nirodh De Silva, a scholarship recipient of the Total Immersion Camp for undergraduates at the University of Moratuwa shares his experience “I was a kid who was afraid to speak in English in public. After joining the John Keells English Language Scholarship Programme, I was able to overcome my fear. Now I’m a confident public speaker. The programme was an incredible opportunity for me to develop my social skills and situation handling skills. The teachers and John Keells Foundation offered many opportunities where I had to work in teams, and it helped me become the best version of myself.”

In addition to “English for Teens”, JKELSP has, over the years, continually adapted to address emerging needs. “Skill Into Progress” (SKIP) was initiated in 2019 to support supplier management efforts of the Group’s businesses, enhancing their service quality and income opportunities post-pandemic. The “Cinnamon Youth Empowerment” programme was designed to provide practical training associated with hospitality services, equipping participants with valuable skills for employment opportunities in the sector.

As JKF celebrates two decades of `Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow’ through the English Language Scholarship Programme, it remains steadfast in its commitment to empowering Sri Lankan youth through enhanced career skills thereby ensuring a brighter future for its beneficiaries and the country.

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