Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) and the Asia Foundation (TAF) renewed their long standing decade old partnership of “Spreading the wealth of knowledge” recently at the Sri Lanka Telecom Head Office premises. At this ceremony Mr. Lalith De Silva, the Group Chief Executive Officer of SLT and Mrs. Dinesha de Silva, Country Representative of the Asia Foundation exchanged the signed agreement. Through this partnership, the two organizations are responsible for distributing high quality English Language books on a range of subjects to schools, universities and vocational institutes and other organizations with the aim of improving literacy rates, especially ICT literacy in Sri Lanka and thereby encouraging a reading culture in order to enhance child, adult and professional education in all parts of the island.
SLT and TAF embarked on this partnership back in 2003 and the first book distribution programme was made to the Rajarata University in Anuradhapura in 2004. Since the start of the “Spreading the wealth of knowledge” programme, a total exceeding 1,254,072 books have been distributed to various organizations across Sri Lanka. Under this partnership, over 110,000 books are distributed annually, including 122,414 books during 2012, 115,000 books during 2013 and 110,000 books in 2014.
The Asia Foundation is a non-profit international development organization, headquartered in San Francisco that has been working in Sri Lanka since 1954. The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia Program has distributed over 4 million books to more than 10,000 institutions island-wide including schools, universities, public libraries, community based organizations, government institutions and non-government institutions since 1957. “With almost free access to books, strengthening libraries helps to equalize the distribution of knowledge, and thereby allowing everyone to supplement their education and have greater access to employment opportunities. The Asia Foundation is privileged to continue this special partnership with Sri Lanka Telecom to promote the culture of reading in Sri Lanka” said Ms de Silva on behalf of the Asia Foundation.
Mrs. Dinesha de Silva, Country Representative of the Asia Foundation and Mr. Lalith De Silva, Group CEO of SLT exchanging the agreement. Mr. Anton Nallathambi, Director for Asia Foundation’s ‘Books for Asia’ programme (left) and Mr. Lal Ranjith, Chief Corporate Officer of SLT also were present at the ceremony (right).
Mr. Lalith de Silva, Group CEO, SLT said that he was happy that SLT is partnering the Asia Foundation during the month of September that celebrates literary work in Sri Lanka by launching valued and ongoing corporate social responsibility initiatives of SLT. “Today, our country is on the road to becoming a knowledge hub in the region; through this project, I believe that we can support the Government to drive Sri Lanka towards this knowledge hub by advocating education and a reading culture in our community.” He further elaborated that “Education is one of the most important things for our country to leverage in moving from a developing country to a developed country. Education is so very important, and towards this end, reading and self-learning are equally important to ensure an all-round knowledge that is sustainable. We encourage children to develop a reading culture from a very young age so that they will develop the habit of reading and learning continuously and it will be carried forward throughout their lives.”
Mr. Lalith De Silva added that “it has been a privilege for the company to work together with the Asia Foundation over the years and stated that they intend on continuing to invest in the community by spreading the wealth of knowledge via related book distribution programmes”.