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Sri Sumangala College, Panadura celebrates 100 years


Sri Sumangala College, Panadura, celebrates its centenary year today.

The school was founded on the March 3, 1909 at the Rankoth Viharaya premises Panadura, by its chief incumbent Ven. Panadura Gnanavimalatissa Thero and Mudliyar Thomas Rodrigo, P. C. H. Dias, Matthes Salgado, P. Domingo Dias, Kornelis Perera and P. Lewis Dias, followed by Arthur Dias, N. Q. Dias, Susantha De Fonseka, Sir Leo Fernando and many other philanthropists of Panadura.

The plot of land for the buildings of this budding institution was donated by the famous philanthropist Arthur V. Dias, between his residence and the Rankoth Vihara under the sal tree.

The school was named adter the Budddhist Scholar Weligama Sri Sumangala Thera.

This educational institution which was started with 77 students had 325 students when it became a government assisted school on May 11, 1911 and was managed by a Board of Management consisting of a manager. In 1961 it was vested in the state.

A pioneer in Buddhist Education, P. De S. Kularathne was its manager in 1943. It was the golden era of the college.

Sri Sumangala College nurtured and moulded thousands of excellent citizens such as Sir Ukwatte Jayasundare, Dr. Linton Salgado, Prof. P. E. E. Fernando, H. Jinadasa Samarakkody, Prof. Raja de Fonseka, Prof. Ranjith Ruberu, Dr. Walter Fernando, Dr. Neville Fernando, Prof. P. A. De Silva, Dr. Jayantha Ruberu, Dr. L. L. Gunarathne, Prof. Nimal Chandrasena, Sir Leo Fernando, D. W. J. Perera, Merryl Kariyawasam, P. W. M. Wijesooriya, D. G. Athukorala, Dr. Malinga Fernando, Alec Robertson, Linton Wijenayaka, and Don Arunasiri to mention a few.

On August 7, 1942, all the students of the college between the 7th standard up to the H.S.C. were shifted to the buildings constructed at Nalluruwa to a land to the extent of two acres donated by Walter Salgado, one of the two brothers who were enrolled first, as students of the college. It is very important to point out that it was on March 24, 1940 that the foundation stone was laid for these buildings.

The adjoining land of about 2 1/2 acres which was donated by M. D. Fernando has been turned into the playground of the college. The audience hall of the college was made constructed and donated by Sir Leo Fernando, while P. C. M. Dias contributed largely to the construction of the laboratory. The public of the area, especially of Panadura contributed towards the construction of the buildings.

The students of Sri Sumangala Girl’s School used the laboratory of the college for their highest studies in H.S.C. classes at the initial stage.

The primary classes from Kindergarten up to six standard which had been retained at the town branch adjoining Rankoth Viharaya was headed by A. C. Morawaka, a tough disciplinarian. This branch was also shifted to Nalluruwa premises, making it one institution in 1995.

On May 25, 1993 the college was graded as a National School.

The first two to enroll as students were two brothers Walter and Richard Salgado, the sons of Matthes Salgado, one of the six founders of the college. The children of the other founders also followed suit.

The first Principal of the College was Thomas E. Gunaratne, who held the post till 1912.

The late W. S. M. Wijenayaka (Village Headman of Pohaddaramulla, Wadduwa) was also a student with Walter and Richard Salgado, U. A. Jayasundare and Sir Leo Fernando, when Thomas E. Gunaratne was the Principal succeeded by W. Charles de Silva. His sons, myself, Walter, Sylvester, Llevellyn and Linton Wijenayaka were also students when A. C. Morawaka was the Head Master and A. J. Fernando who was the Principal, succeeded by K. L. V. Alagiyawanna.

One third of the college buildings were washed out on December 26, 2004 by the Tsunami. As a result, the college was shifted to the Army camp at Wekada and the camp at Wekada was shifted to the space where the college buildings were.

The college is a National Institution - a part of our national heritage and it has a powerful Old Boys’ Association.

Some of the devoted eminent past teachers were Thomas E. Gunaratne, R. S. S. Gunawardane, P. De S. Kularatne, M. W. Karunananda, A. J. Fernando and K. L. V. Alagiyawanne. The present Principal of the school is Somathilaka Vithanage.

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