Bogoda Premarathne – Education Visionary
Posted on September 23rd, 2020

Chanaka Bandarage

Mr Bogoda Premarathne is a pioneer in streamlining Sri Lanka’s education system. 

As the Commissioner of Examinations he devised a strategy to release public exam results (O/L and A/L) within few weeks of their completion. This was a remarkable achievement as in the 1970s it took many months for the results to be released. Sometimes students had to wait for more than 12 months for the results to be released.

Mr Premarathne served on the American Field Service (AFS) and Fulbright Scholarships committees.  He was very fair, honest and reasonable in selecting students for these scholarships. Mr Premarathne unlocked doors for many rural youth to travel to USA and obtain valuable educational qualifications.

Previously these opportunities were mainly available to students from Colombo schools. The main selection criteria was whether or not they spoke fluent English. Thus, only students from elite schools such as Royal, St Thomas’ St Peter’s. St Joseph’s, Ladies, Bishops, St Bridget’s were able to secure these scholarships.

Mr Premarathne was appointed as Chair of the Educational Reforms Committee of Sri Lanka in 1980, this appointment was made by the then President, JR Jayewardene. Mr Premarathne’s committee report was so successful, it was fully accepted and implemented by the government.

An ardent Buddhist, Mr Premarathne wrote a number of books on Buddhism. He was a senior member of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC). He made valuable contributions to this organisation. His contemporaries at the ACBC included Dr Gunapala Malalasekera, HW Amarasuriya, Douglas Umagiliya, JW Piyatissa, Prof MB Ariyapala, Dr DS Bandarage, Albert Edirisinghe, YR Piyasena, Leelananda Caldera, PC Perera and Hewage Jayasena.

Some say Mr. Premaratne’s knowledge of Buddhism surpassed that was of the most erudite monks. Mr Premarathne was not a realist Buddhist, but, a practical Buddhist. He observed Sil on almost every Full Moon Poya day (along with the above mentioned luminaries).

As the Principal of Royal College (from 1959 to 1966) Mr Premarathne undertook many steps to solidify that school as Sri Lanka’s premier boy’s school. He was the first Buddhist and the first non – Old Royalist Sri Lankan to be appointed as the Principal of Royal College (he was an old Anandian). Apart from the many good things he did for Royal he introduced the Sinhala translation to Royal’s school song ‘Disce Aut Discēde’.  It is still being used.

Mr Premarathne was an able school administrator, he was not ardently strict.  He was kind to students and worked with them to overcome their difficulties/problems. He wanted the parents to become heavily involved in their children’s education.

Mr Premarathne gave a true Buddhist dimension to Royal College. Under his auspices Sil campaigns on Poya Days were started. Mr Premarathne is credited with establishing the Royal College swimming pool.  He raised funds for this project with the support of the Royal College Old Boy’s Association.

At the ripe old age of 92 Mr Premarathne sighed his last breath; on 26 December 2013.

May Mr Bogoda Premarathne attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana!

One Response to “Bogoda Premarathne – Education Visionary”

  1. Gunasinghe Says:

    “Mr Premarathne served on the American Field Service (AFS) and Fulbright Scholarships committees. He was very fair, honest and reasonable in selecting students for these scholarships. Mr Premarathne unlocked doors for many rural youth to travel to USA and obtain valuable educational qualifications” I do not about work in the department of education. But I strongly disagree with above statement. When he was at USEF I was selected after 2 interwievs for Fulbright scholarship. One day I went to his office at Flower road he called me to his room and he told me that he was a school inspector during 50 in my rural area (Anuradhapura district) and told me not to keep any hope that I am going to get the scholarship. Then I said will see and left thinking he was a SOB. This is in 1982. At that time I had done TOFEL and I got admission to one of the top ten Universities in the US. I was waiting for final offer and nothing happened until end of the year. I knew that this guy screwed me and I started contacting agency in Chicago. In 1983 i got telegram that I can proceed to US with full scholarship. I had only 11 days to get ready. I never forget how cruel and racist this was.

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