The protection of the environment is one of the most important social issues. Bank of Cyprus has embedded numerous initiatives in its corporate social responsibility for that purpose.
Through the educational programme Oikade, which the Bank develops 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.
Therefore, Oikade is a very good base for the Bank to address schools in order to raise their awareness about the protection of the planet, 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 since children are tomorrow's citizens and we have to inform and teach them to act with environmental conscience. Besides, children effectively pressurize adults to change their behaviour.
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 established a Panhelenic Student Art Competition in collaboration with the environmental NGO ¨MEDITERRANEAN SOS Network¨. In 2009, the competition's theme was "Planet Earth - Our common home" and in 2010, as it is the year of biodiversity, "The seabed through my mask".
More specifically, at the beginning of the school year, all the primary and secondary schools all over Greece and all the schools that take part in the programme Oikade are informed about the theme, the conditions and the terms of the competition. All students that are interested to take part have to prepare paintings, collages, photographs and theatrical texts, under the guidance of their teachers, in order to express their environmental concerns. When completing their works, they send them to a certain committee consisting of representatives from the fields of arts, education, the Bank and the NGO for evaluation.
All the works are exhibited towards the end of the school year at the Central Metro Station Syntagma Square for four days. The third day of the exhibition a special ceremony takes place where the winners are awarded by the Minister of Education, NGO's representatives, a famous theatrical children's play director and Bank of Cyprus executives. At the same time many environmental activities and workshops for the children and the public that visit the exhibition take place. The event is widely communicated by the Bank so as to attract the public to participate.
The remaining challenges for the Bank are to increase the number of children that are informed and to ensure that the message for the protection of the environment is properly transmitted to children.
Therefore the Bank's aim is to continue the competition for the following years and make it even more known to the public so that each year more and more schools all over the country take part. In this context, the Bank will suggest topics that trigger children in an interesting way and provoke them to take part in the competition.
For that purpose the Bank will continue to collaborate with NGOs and other stakeholders.
In parallel, an expansion of the initiative could be to suggest schools that take part in the educational programme Oikade and are located at different regions of the country to find a way to collaborate so that they prepare a group project.
The main benefit of this initiative is the large participation and mobilization of students throughout Greece. Taking into consideration that more than 3.000 students participate every year in the competition, the Bank's goal to raise awareness with more and more young people is successfully achieved.
Furthermore, at least 2.000 children take part in the two-day workshops and more than 5.000 people visit every exhibition annually. The competition has a great impact on students and stimulates them in a very creative way. Through this procedure, children feel that they have a great opportunity to express their thoughts and/ or their fears and therefore send their message about the future of the planet.
At the same time, the employees of the Bank have the opportunity to visit the exhibition or take part in the competition with their children.
Furthermore, the Bank has the opportunity to inform the public about its initiatives for the environment as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility.
As for the NGO, they have a great chance to spread their message to lots of students all over Greece and reinforce their actions by addressing a wider public.