Bank of Ceylon has been supporting to promote science education in Sri Lanka for a considerable period of time. In 2016 and 2017, the BOC made a generous sponsorship to the Institute of Physics Sri Lanka to host the Sri Lankan teams at the International Junior Science Olympiads held in these two years. In 2018 too, the BOC extended its generous support for the International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO) - 2018 that will be held in Gaborone, Botswana. As a knowledge enhancement initiative for youth in the country, the Bank has joined hands with IJSO to conduct Junior National Olympiad examinations at province level.
BOC has also enabled its online banking platform to students to pay their registration fee directly through a special panel that is available especially for IJSO, a feature enabled through the Bank’s digitization process. As a part of the Bank’s commitment to empower the youth in Sri Lanka, the Bank of Ceylon has marked this programme as a key event in the bank’s event calendar. This is yet another strategic corporate social responsiblity initiative of the Bank to uplift the education level of the country to enable a sustainable economic development. Ever since the dawn of science, human society has been surrounded by technology and the products of science every day.
Public policy decisions that affect every aspect of our lives are made based on scientific evidence. The immensely complex natural world around us illustrates infinite scientific concepts. As young children grow up, they need to be scientifically literate to live up to the expectations of the technologically and scientifically advanced society today, and to become successful and happy citizens. Therefore, science education is one of the most important subjects taught in school due to its relevance to students’ lives and to the universally applicable problem-solving and critical thinking skills it develops. These lifelong skills would allow students to generate ideas, make and weigh decisions intelligently and even help them to understand the evidence behind public policy-making decisions.
Further, improving the scientific and technological literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities of students through science education will equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed at the school and in the open society alike. In this scenario, it is very encouraging to see that the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) has willingly come forward as a Sri Lankan investor in science to create a better tomorrow through promoting and popularizing science education in the country. This gives an opportunity to Sri Lankan students to participate and compete even at international scientific events such as the International Junior Science Olympiad.
The IJSO is a major international educational competition held annually for schoolchildren, to recognize the significance of the Natural Sciences in the general education of young people and in all aspects of their lives. It is an individual and team competition where knowledge related to physics, chemistry and biology are covered and tested simultaneously. The competition is known for its intricacy as it requires a wide range of knowledge in all the above three aspects of sciences. Top students from each country are selected to this prestigious competition and each student gets a chance to compete with their counterparts from across the globe.
Therefore, the IJSO also gives an opportunity for young people to experience different cultures and to make interactions from across the globe to enhance social harmony. Each year, Sri Lanka is represented at the IJSO by six contesting students and three university academics. The students for this competition are selected through the Sri Lankan Junior Science Olympiad (SLJSO), an examination held locally at each competition year. Since 2010, the Institute of Physics Sri Lanka has been playing a major role in organizing this competition and holding the SLJSO examinations island wide. Both the SLJSO and IJSO examinations are open for school students in Sri Lanka who are sixteen years or younger on 31st of December of the competition year.
The objective of the SLJSO is to promote an interest in science among school children in Sri Lanka, exposing them to problem- solving, critical thinking and experimentation related to science. The competition is conducted in Sinhala/English/ Tamil media on a date decided by the Institute of Physics Sri Lanka.Therefore, the students who follow their school education in Sinhala/English/Tamil media qualify to apply for this competition. The SLJSO examination paper consists of questions based on physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics taught up to the ordinary level. Therefore, the students who pursue their school education following the local syllabus in government schools as well as the students who pursue their education following the London or Cambridge syllabi equally qualify to participate in this competition.
This year, arrangements have been made to hold the SLJSO preliminary examination in major universities in Sri Lanka so that the eligible applicants will be assigned to the university nearer to their hometown, to sit for the examination. This will minimize the hassle for students and for their parents who would be compelled to travel to Colombo if only a single examination center is established only in Colombo. Based on the performance at the preliminary examination of the SLJSO, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded to successful contestants. In SLJSO – 2017, 9 students won gold medals, 17 students won silver medals while 22 other students won bronze medals.
The students who excel at the SLJSO preliminary examination are qualified to sit for another selection examination held at the University of Kelaniya on a date specified by the SLJSO organizers. Of the students who will be sitting for this examination, six best performers are selected to represent Sri Lanka at the International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO). These students are guided and trained by the academics of the University of Kelaniya. This year, the first round of SLJSO examination has been scheduled to be held on 7th of April 2018. Registration Deadline for this educational event is on 27th March 2018. For more information related to SLJSO and IJSO events, students, teachers and parents please contact Professor H.H. Sumathipala, National Coordinator-Sri Lankan Junior Science Olympiad, Department of Physics, University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya, or visit the web atwww.ipslk.lk. The Sri Lankan Olympiad team at the IJSO-2017 held in Arnhem in The Netherlands in December 2017. From left: Prof. Upali Chandrasekara, A.J.M.H. Ranmini, I.M.N.H. Idirisinghe, S.S. Wi ck r a m at h i l a k e, P r o f . H . H . S u m a t h i p a l a , N.D.H. Nethmal, V.R. Pirapaharan, K.J.Y.N. Jayasekara and Prof. Kapila Seneviratne. The Sri Lankan students secured five Bronze medals at this Olympiad.