The Bank of Cyprus recognises that the protection of the environment is one of the most important, immediate social challenge. The Bank of Cyprus embedded numerous initiatives in its corporate social responsibility for that purpose.
Through the educational programme Oikade, which the Bank implemented since 1999, primary schools from Greece and Greek-speaking schools from abroad, utilizing e-learning methods, present live on camera, through the internet, their living area and its environmental characteristics to their distance classmates.
Oikade is a good base for the Bank to address schools in order to raise their awareness about the protection of the planet and the climate change and spread this message to as many pupils as possible all over Greece and abroad. The Bank seized the opportunity to motivate the next generation through environmental education informing and teaching them to act with an environmental conscience.
In 2008, the Bank decided to further enrich its educational programme Oikade in order to enhance the goal of environmental awareness and spread the message to even more pupils throughout Greece. Therefore, the Bank in collaboration with several NGOs established a Panhelennic Student Art Competition with various environmental topics every year.
More specifically, at the beginning of the school year, all the primary and secondary schools all over Greece are informed about the topic, the conditions and the terms of the competition. The same information is sent to the Bank’s employees so that their children can participate. Students take part with paintings, constructions and photographs, either individually or in groups, in order to express their environmental concerns, under the guidance of their teachers. The artworks are evaluated by a committee consisting of representatives from the fields of arts, education, the Bank and the NGO.
All the works are exhibited towards the end of the school year at the Central Metro Station Syntagma Square for four days. A special ceremony takes place where the winners are awarded in the presence of the Ministry of Education and other authorities while many environmental activities and workshops take place for the children and the public that visit the exhibition. The event is widely communicated by the Bank so as to attract the public to participate.
A big challenge for the competition is to differentiate from other similar projects and ensure high participation rates as well as a high quality exhibition. Therefore, each competition is carefully planned in terms of topic, guidance given to the teachers and the whole communication with schools.
The whole project is very complex in terms of organizational details; by choosing the right partners and maintaining a good project management throughout the competition are key to the successful outcome.
The Bank has implemented this competition for the past three years and therefore reinforces its corporate image as a socially responsible company towards the public, shareholders, customers, employees and NGOs. This is evident in the visitors’ comments about the exhibition.
On average, more than 500 schools take part with 7.500 high-quality artworks with very strong messages for the environment. 32 prizes are awarded to the winners, while more than 5.000 people visit every year the exhibition and at least 2.000 children take part in the workshops.
Children of all ages are sensitized and motivated on crucial environmental issues, such as climate change, sea pollution, forests. Schools implement the educational process of analysing the topic (i.e. the environmental issue, reasons for it, situation today and suggestions for the future) before producing the artwork. Teachers find the whole procedure very effective and creative, according to the written evaluation held every year by the Bank.