Illusion of glorifying the School brands in Sri Lanka
Posted on January 3rd, 2018

Punsara Amarasinghe Doctoral Candidate in International Law Higher School of Economics Moscow, LL.B (Colombo), LL.M SAU( New Delhi )

 Love for the school as you love thy self is a common phase for those who have read the English novel Tom Brown’s School days” which vividly portrays the changes of English secondary education system in the19th century England. The plot in Tom Brown’s Schooldays was set in Rugby school in England, which was considered to be a potential academic center to build the needed gentleman for Victorian society. In fact the idea of loving one’s school was rather a strategy conceived in English psyche to inculcate one’s patriotism to country. After defeating Napoleon, Wellington had uttered The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton” and it was a symbolic statement to indicate how much school has affected in nourishing a personality of a boy to serve his country. The idea of school loyalty was not only confined within the corners in England when the empire on which the sun never set began to expand its frontiers in the East. Especially Lord Macaulay’s proposal on the colonial education in India in 1832 simply urged the idea of introducing English public school models to the British Raj in the subcontinent and being a colony of the British Empire Ceylon too was not exempted from Macaulay’s tactic. 1833 Coloboorke recommendation was the implementation of Macaulaite dream in Ceylon and few years after Colbrooke recommendations Governor Horton decided to patronize Colombo Academy as the foremost government school in the country.

Perhaps this article could agitate the old boys who have hailed from public schools in the island but my intention is purely to examine how such a loyalty on one’s own alma mater has made tremendous impacts in Sri Lankan society where the old public school mania still remains even 69 years after British left. Especially prominent members of Yahapalana government represent the old public school tradition or commonly called Royal Thomian bond which seems to be thicker than the blood in its action. Even the prime minster of the Government is notorious for his treating his classmates in a different level of dignity than treating his own loyal followers who have waited with him in the line to power. The psychological tactic of British in building schools in their colonies  happened to be mainly for producing a class for clerical service and local clergy which would reduce their expenditure of importing Englishmen for the colony , but the lessons taught in those British modeled public schools in the island strongly affected the young native  boys who studied there and they carried their legacy to become the leaders of nationalist movement in 20thncentry , moreover some of them became the leading statesmen of post-colonial Ceylon.

The remaining question regarding the school loyalties or glorifying the college even many years after le it is have such infatuations brought anything worthy to the nation. It is a fact beyond dispute that many of the children in the country are not educating in those so called colleges and this country still there are schools where very few number of teachers teach for students and some students just have to grin and bear every agony they undergo for the cause of learning. Mad love on own school is completely a peculiar ideal for such class of children. In the same country we have a prime minister who has complete trust on his school friends to hand over any responsibilities in the statehood and we have ministers who like to wear the school tie when they have been accused over fraud and corruption. The deplorable truth is that very British ideals planted by them in Sri Lanka are no longer exist in Britain now and the old Victorian myth of loving your school would lead you to serve your motherland better had been refuted within England.  Though many of English lads from best public schools had joined the army to serve the empire they were traitors came from the same schools like Kim Philby and Guy Bugrgges both of them had education at Eton and ended up being Soviet spies. In post independent Sri Lanka the 62 military coup was led by the military officers who emerged from British public school tradition in the island. In plain truth that illusion of school loyalty as a path to love your country or as a ladder to be a more successful man in life lies in tatters and the lessons from this country have simply proven how colonial we are in our psyche . Being the jewel of British Empire, India drastically got rid of her colonial legacies in the school education with the visionary idealism of Nehru and in the time of Indira Gandhi Indian policy makers developed concept of Kendriya Vidyalaya all around the country and today kendriya vidyalayas in India hold the helm of producing bureaucrats and military officers for the nation. Whereas the maha vidyalaya convept developed by C.W.W Kannangara has been faded into oblivion and still parents are eager to rally around those labeled schools to admit their children.

The school infatuation remaining in Sri Lanka can be aptly analyzed from the writings of Algerian writer Franz fanon and in his most popular work The Wretched on the Earth” , Fanon points out how minds of a colonized nation can be crippled after spending many years under a colonial occupation and even after gaining freedom the effects of colonial influence in every aspect of life continues to exist. The cult of venerating schools in Sri Lanka is a simple continuation of Fenon’s analysis of a colonial psyche. Ironically the schools emerged in the colonial period to resist the colonial education became the models of the same hierarchy.  As Prof. Nalin de Silva pointed out in his writings often those schools established by Olcott and his Theosophical Association simply followed the standards of Royal and S.Thomas’ in their structure and only difference was that fact that they had adopted a Buddhist and more nationalistic outlook which stands firm to this day. In my opinion creating a set of communal schools to react those British modeled public schools have made some repercussions as they stimulate sentiments confined to one particular community.

Sri Lankan is approaching the 70th land mark of her independence in two months and the overall growth of the country stands in the doldrums. No wonder why the growth of the nation has been so sluggish, because we have been trained to be divided from their schools with different sets of ideologies. Moreover the products that are coming from the old elite school brigade would certainly carry the school ego in the public domain and the trend of getting more career opportunities for the students is another pathetic situation exists in Sri Lanka. If Lord Maccukay is alive today he would be over the moon to see how successfully  his dream of producing Englishmen in ideals have accomplished in this island where glorifying schools have benighted its people for a worthless cause.

 

One Response to “Illusion of glorifying the School brands in Sri Lanka”

  1. Christie Says:

    “LL.M SAU( New Delhi )” says it all.

    Kendriya (Central) Vidyalaya of India is a direct copy of Central (Kendriya) Shools of Kannagara of Ceylon.

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