Martin Davidson, BC Chief Executive (left) and Steve Bottomley, Regional Head of Strategy & Planning and Head of International, MENA during the signing
In a landmark regional partnership, global banking giant HSBC has signed on to sponsor the British Council’s “Kids Read!!” programme aimed at supporting and developing children’s reading skills in and out of the classroom.
HSBC and the British Council’s presence across the MENA region will enable this programme to reach over 55,000 children from over 75 schools in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria and Pakistan. HSBC’s sponsorship of this regional programme is worth approximately USD 457,000.
“I am delighted to see this new collaboration between the British Council and HSBC working for the first time together to support language learning for young children. Giving young people access to English is a vital part of a child's education in a globalised world. I hope this is just the first of many such collaborations with HSBC.” said Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of British Council.
The sponsorship funds will be used for several activities during the year long programme including participating schools receiving specially selected books, workshops led by experienced British Council trainers, story telling sessions in a community atmosphere and a web-based competition highlighting the environment and financial education. The partnership between British Council and HSBC, spanning schools in multiple countries, is the first regional collaboration with a global bank for the MENA region.
In addition to providing financial support, HSBC will also encourage its staff to participate in this cause by teaching reading skills to the children. Volunteerism is greatly encouraged at the bank, and in 2010 over 2,800 HSBC staff donated over 14,000 man hours to a range of worthy causes across the region.
“We are committed to investing in the community with a specific focus on the environment and education. This programme will enable HSBC employees to make a difference where they live and work by donating their time and skills, and participating students will be exposed to great books as well as be motivated to learn to love reading”, said Steve Bottomley, Regional Head of Strategy & Planning and Head of International - HSBC MENA. “We look forward to fostering an ongoing relationship with British Council to provide educational and cultural opportunities in our local markets”.
The agreement was endorsed recently at a meeting between British Council and HSBC in UAE, attended by British Council’s Chief Executive Martin Davidson on a tour of the region to promote its educational opportunities and cultural relations.