Politicians vs Principals

With reference to the article on the above subject by Tissa Devendra, I can vouch for the fact that D. T. Devendra (Tissa’s father) resigned from the principalship of Anuruddha College, Nawalapitiya, when the member of the then State Council requested him to grant a holiday when there was no reason do do so. The BTS, which at that time was influenced by political considerations, also backed the politician. Therefore he promptly resigned without even thinking of his future.

However, luckily for him he was offered the post of Principal at Seevalee Vidyalaya, Ratnapura. The school was run by the Attygalla Family - a family well known for their philantrophy. It was a private school. However, during the schools take over, he persuaded the management to hand over the school to the state.

I am personally aware of these facts because I was a student of Dharmaraja College, Kandy, during the period when Mr. D. T. Devendra was the vice principal. It was from there that he was appointed principal of Anuruddha College, Nawalapitiya. As pointed out by me earlier, he then became the principal of Seevali Vidyalaya, Ratnapura.

In passing, I would like to state a few words about the fate of the Buddhist Theosophical Society, popularly known as the BTS. It was founded in good faith by Colonel Olcott who could be called the father of the BTS. To his dismay, he found that although the Buddha preached against caste, Ceylon at the time, was permeated by caste. To a certain extent he was able to counter that influence. He also tried his best to steer the society free of politics.

After the Colonel left the shores of Ceylon, politics and caste gradually crept in. That was the reason why the late Dr. E. W. Adikaram, who was quite neutral where caste and politics was concerned, decided to contest the post of president and won after a hard fight. Fortunately for the Buddhist schools, the parents pressured the BTS to hand over the schools to the state. But today the principals, and even the assistant teachers of these schools, are at the mercy of politicians. Today these politicians bemoan the poor standard of schools and examination results. But they do not speak of the political victimisation that takes place. Today, in the eyes of the politicians, a good teacher or a good principal could be defined as a person who toes the party line of the politicians. After the establishment of the provincial councils, the matter has become worse. Education officers are rendered powerless to make any decisions. In some provinces, no teachers could be transferred without the approval of the Chief Minister. That is the sad situation prevailing today.

G. H. I. de Zoysa

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