Royal College 175th Anniversary: A forgotten incident
Posted on July 7th, 2017

By Janaka Perera

As Sri Lanka’s Royal College celebrates the 175th anniversary of its
founding this year on a grand scale of pomp and pageantry that perhaps
no other school in the country can match, it is a moot question to ask
whether there are alternate voices from within or outside Royal
College, that have different views on how the grand old school should
celebrate its anniversaries and success with the virtually unlimited
resources it commands.

Parties on the streets may not be every student’s cup of tea in so far
as celebration of school anniversaries or use of school resources is
concerned, however plenty they may be. To be fair by Royal College it
has not been without dissident voices even within its student ranks,
who have grappled with moral conscience and spoken out in favour of
others less privileged than the ‘elite’ students attending some
Colombo based schools.

This is the story of one such incident. It happened in September 1967
when the construction of the Royal College Swimming Pool had
commenced. A young student of the school deeply concerned at the
growing disparity in facilities enjoyed by the Colombo based ‘elite’
schools and the vast majority of rural schools decided to take a stand
via a protest. He made an appeal in writing to his fellow students
calling on them to consider the plight of the less fortunate students
in rural schools and forego some of the benefits enjoyed by them
thereby upholding the principle that ‘Self sacrifice is more virtuous
than self gain’. It was immoral to be indulgent, he pointed out, when
most others all around were handicapped.

He called on the school authorities to halt the construction of the
swimming pool and re-allocate the funds for the provision of basic
needs of rural students. This was the first time JVP inspired-thinking
on youth led revolution was beginning to spread like wild fire on
University campuses and later in secondary schools.

His essay distributed in the form of a pamphlet was titled, ‘From the
students to the students of Royal College.’ Some of his classmates
convinced of the strength of his arguments assisted him in
distributing the pamphlet among fellow students.

The school authorities with the then Principal Bogoda Premaratne –
though aware of the incident – made no attempt to interfere. The
student in question was not called to account for his opinion though
it went against the grain of institutional thinking and made both the
teaching staff and students sit up and think on the moral dimension of
the plea. However another essay this student wrote subsequently
entitled ‘Whither Royal College: Proposals for Reform in School
Administration and Teaching’ caught the eye of the Principal
Premaratne and he read out excerpts of this essay in front of the
entire school assembly sometime in October 1967. The Principal
undertook to implement some of the progressive ideas contained in the

The problem with schools with roots in the British colonial period is
that students are unfortunately brainwashed to place the school ahead
of the country. They are indoctrinated to look inward rather than
outward. They will wrap the school flag around themselves more readily
than the national flag. They will sing the school song with a lusty
cheer and be found fishing for lyrics when singing the national
anthem. Our national cricketers provide a good illustration of this

In the flux of school life at Royal College, the protest against the
construction of the school swimming pool and sharing resources with
rural students, went unheeded and was buried rapidly by the storm of
events. However it left one prophetic vision embedded in an implied
manner in the text – the coming uprising of rural youth dissatisfied
with their lot. True to form, four years later, in 1971, the JVP led
youth struck at the foundations of our state and society. The rest (to
use a hackneyed cliché) is history.

Reproduced below is the text of the essay:

‘From the students to the students of Royal College.’

We have to close our minds against truth and our hearts against
sympathy to endure to enjoy the privileges that an unfair educational
system has placed upon us. We know from news -paper reports the
geo-educational immorality of one part of the country being endowed
with all facilities needed for a complete educational course, while
another part of the country does not even get the basic facilities to
attain literal standard. We see with our own eyes the frustrations and
hardships the rural students put up with at neighboring institutions,
and we also hear with great sadness, the hard struggles most rural
institutions carry on for their day to day material existence. Thus
the present inequality and unrest in the educational system, we must
consider, as a tribute to the Britisher’s work in Ceylon and not a

Never was a time when there was more need for hard thinking than in
the present hour. We must learn to look at our lives against the whole
background of human existence. We must not try to decorate a small
room while ignoring the conditions of the rest of the large house.
This is exactly what we have been doing right throughout in the past.
We have let ourselves to be influenced by the wind from the west – the
wind of impurity. We have lived in an atmosphere of a colonial
creation. We have let ourselves live contentedly in the traditional
fabric of ideas congealed into forms, thus forgetting the fact that in
the flux of life the past is not the present. Therefore it is no
wonder that we have got ourselves singularly isolated from the rest of
the country. Now is the time to regain our originality and rectify our
past mistakes.

Thus upholding the principle self sacrifice is more virtuous than
self gain”, let us persuade the authorities in a peaceful manner, to
take away some of the luxuries we have and donate it to the progress
of the country. We know very well that the swimming pool is one such
luxury. Therefore in a spirit of goodwill and self sacrifice, we who
have enjoyed most privileges denied to others, must make it our firm
duty to plead with the authorities to immediately halt the
construction of the swimming pool and release all the funds collected,
for the building up of some science laboratories in the rural

This should be the first of our positive contributions we would make
to the development of the country and to the elevation of the
educational standards of our rural compatriots. The swimming pool
could be completed at a later date when the educational system is much
more stable. Culturally also we must make every endeavor to rid this
fair land of ours of all those dirty decadent western customs which
has plagued the lives of some of our friends in the form of a
so-called Beat music”. Purity of personal life is the basis of sound
education”. This should be our guiding motto.

Progress in educational institutions we know is not marked by the
building up of swimming pools or by the victories gained at cricket
matches but by the positive attitudes the students adopt towards the
misery surrounding them, the general stringency of life, and the
tortured lives submerged in the shadows. We also must remember that as
long as we rely on our creative power, and hence trust and identity
our selves with all that in good and right, no power on earth would be
able to halt us progressing while on the other hand we would be able
to wipe out every obstacle and overcome every difficulty.

Thus, let us march forward with the nation.

Students of Royal College

September 19, 1967


Why are we not having any contact with the rural students either in
sports or any other extracurricular activities?

Think for yourself. Then you will get the answer.

Courtesy:  Asian Tribune

4 Responses to “Royal College 175th Anniversary: A forgotten incident”

  1. Christie Says:

    There has been a such a decline in education in Ceylon from 56-67. The string of Central Colleges had facilities and education equal to or higher than the Royal College. Kids from Royal College used to go and stay at Central Colleges’ hostels during their holidays. They went sight seeing, hiking. swimming and the same time did some school work using the facilities that was available. Within 11 years (56-67) the standards deteriorated under SWRD and his cohorts.

    Bogoda Premaratne was picked from a Central College which had very high levels of results and was installed by the Socialist government of Banda as the Principal of Royal College.

    The 11 years of decline of education gave this particular Royalist to write a Socialist Dicta on education of the Poor in the island.

  2. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Only blemish of this great institute is, the two biggest traitors in the history of Sri Lanka came from it. All patriotic
    Sri Lankans know traitor alugosuwas (to Sinhalese only) thambi mudiyanselage jr@ and traitor chief die hard catholic token Buddhist Bay Gal Karaya Mega Thief Weda Bari Tarzan pol pot r@nil wickramaSinhalakiller have done irreparable damage to Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese race and Buddhism. Anybody who disagrees with me, please look at some of their treacheries to destroy Sri Lanka, Sinhalese race and Buddhism. These aren’t reported widely in Sri Lanka, since all the media are controlled by the catholic-run UNPatriotic party henchmen.

    For a start thambi mudiyanse put a straight jacket on Sri Lanka by introducing 13, 13A. That was the foundation
    to break up Sri Lanka. 350-mile long island (not 3,500) has presdient, pm, ministers, state ministers, etc. etc.
    In fact more deshapaluwan than ordinary citizens. Who is going to pay these day light robbers (mostly) whose only
    intentions are plunder, plunder and plunder whatever we have.

    Then during BHEESHANA SAMAYA the UNPatriotics dragged the insurgency for 6 years and killed 60,000+ Buddhists.
    Thambi mudiyanse and his nephew Batalande Wadakaya were instrumental in brutalising the jaathidhrohee vermins’ party aka jvp.

    Thambi mudiyanse introduced pathalyin to silence opposition. Ever since the MO of the UNPatriotics has been using
    the pathayins.

    Batalande Wadakaya stopped teaching history in schools (to please his ardent supporters tamils, mussies) in
    schools. Today new generations have no clue about their proud history. Of course portuguese Wadakaya don’t give
    a damn about the Sinhaleses’ history.

    Batalande Wadakaya removed 40,000 families from Gal Oya area to make room for the tamils under pressure.

    Thambi mudiyanse gave 650,000+ estate tamils who were ready to leave for india under Sirima-Shasthri pact
    as soon as he won the election defeating Sirima B promising moon and the earth (remember ata 8 he promised or
    8 cereals, in the end thambi could give only 2). Just like this YAMA PALANA lies get into power.

    Thambi mudiyanse and Batalande Wadakaya co dragged the catholic tigers of tamil drealam war for 30 years and
    got 100,000+ Sinhalese murdered when they could’ve easily stopped at the beginning. While Buddhist jvpers
    burnt in tyres in town centres, catholic tigers were given half the country by these traitors.

    Batalande Wadakaya with his catholic buddy maha horandran daylight robbery of Rs 5000+ from the CB

    Batalande Wadakaya stopped state pension soon as he became the PM (pathala man?) through the back door
    after traitor puppet maru sira’s hopper coup. New state employees have to beg on streets after retirement.

    Now the new constitution propesed by the Batalande Wadakaya aiming to destroy Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese race
    and Buddhism for good to please his ardent supporters tamils, mussies and the catholic west.

    The list of treacheries by the two traitors goes on and on.

    Since Batalande Wadakaya becoming PM through the back door, destruction of Sri Lanka, Buddhism and the
    Sinhalese race have gathered space.

    Proud old boys? You do your maths? We hope as a mark of respect to Sri Lanka, the victims of these two aloguswas (to Sinhalese only), Buddhism and the Sinhalese race Royals will distance themselves from the two biggest traitors in the history of Sri Lanka.

  3. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Forgot one major treachery by the traitor chief die hard catholic token Buddhist Bay Gal Karaya Mega Thief Weda Bari Tarzan pol pot r@nil wickramaSinhalakiller grassing of millennium city intelligent officers to the catholic tigers
    of tamil drealam to expedite the creation of a catholic country in Sri Lanka.

  4. Nimal Says:

    This great collage is the hallmark of the British colonials to our advancement of our culture which had been denied to us by our rouges the politicians wearing the national Dravidian ambude.Colonials, previous to that emerged from the Indian sub continent did nothing but harm. Great culture and great history says some of these rouges, give us a break!
    All our thieves did change the name of the great schools with their name like Christian collage kotte(1822) which is the mother of all such schools, now sadly named Sri Jayewardene Pura Vidiyaya.
    We will never get those glory days back for future generations to enjoy.

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