A school that provides more than education | Daily News
Wesley High School, Kalmunai celebrates their 136th anniversary on June 29:

A school that provides more than education

Principal and staff of Wesley High School, Kalmunai
Principal and staff of Wesley High School, Kalmunai

Wesley High School, Kalmunai, was established in 1883. Its 136th anniversary will be celebrated on June 29, 2019. This college has served all communities splendidly, offering wholesome education which the great philosopher Plato defined as the first and the last thing that the best of men and women can ever have.

History of the College

The Methodist missionaries set foot on Sri Lankan soil in Weligama on June 29, 1814, to extend sound education across the island. The missionary Rev. William Ault stayed in Batticaloa for eight months and established eight schools in the East including Methodist Central College in Batticaloa.

Superintendent Minister of Methodist Church, Kalmunai, Rev. J. Trimmer established Girls Boarding School (GBS) in Kalmunai in 1883. Though education was banned for women then, English education was provided in the school.

It was registered and approved on November 30, 1883, as the first school in the district with 18 pupils on roll in a cadjan shed. Jane Weerakuddy was the teacher and S. Govinthar was the warden. In accordance with the educational policy, the Girls Boarding School reverted to a Tamil medium school in 1929 and taught optional English in one period a day.

Superintendent Minister of Methodist Church, Kalmunai Rev. Gabriel Leese realised the importance of English education and formed Boys English School in Kalmunai. This Boys School was registered as an English medium school and was named Leese High School. It is worth mentioning that although Leese High School remained a small school, it produced lawyers, police chiefs, principals, teachers, doctors, engineers, Members of Parliament, educationalists, traders and business magnates.

Muththamil Viththahar Swami Vipulanandar, Pulavarmani Periyathampippillai, Professor M. A. Nuhman, former Ministers M.M. Mustafa, A.R. Munsoor, M.H.M. Ashraff and former Members of Parliament – S.M. Rasamanikam, Pon M. Selvaraja, C. Chandrakanthan and A.K. Kodeeswaran, former Inspector General of Police T.E. Anandaraja and former High Court Judge P. Swarnaraj are among the many well-known people who studied at the school.

Although talk of amalgamating these two institutions - Girls Boarding School and Leese High School had been going on for some time, it only happened in May 1953. These two schools were amalgamated under the new name - Wesley High School - with the motto ‘Utmost for the Highest’, by the missionaries. It still functions as a mixed school with an academic and non-academic staff of 101.

Deaf Link

Deaf Link, an institution established by the Methodist Mission of Sri Lanka for children with disabilities was added to the school in 2008 with 22 students during the tenure of Principal (the late) Pon Murugiah. It still functions under the motto ‘Tender Friendly Guidance for Better Life’ and at present has 57 students.

The children who are studying at Deaf Link have been diagnosed with learning disabilities, speech and language impairment, mental retardation, visual and hearing impairment, emotional disturbances, multiple disabilities, orthopaedic impairment, or other disorders. Six teachers guide them with dedication.

The school society, SDC, Past Pupils Association (PPA) and well-wishers extend their fullest support and lend a hand in every aspect of school activities. The PPA of 1965 constructed a ‘Scout House’ and the PPA of 1978 added a grand front entrance to the institution.

The website, www.kalmunaiwesley.com keeps the students united as a well-knit family linked to each other and to their alma mater.

Free education

The college was founded by missionaries with the main intention of imparting English education and also to instil an atmosphere of Christian culture and tradition. The missionaries realised that education should be imparted in a religious environment. To make this mission success, they built a spacious chapel with an artistic design to accommodate children for holy prayers. The chapel was opened ceremonially. This old chapel is now converted to a hall and still stands as a symbol of the vision of Rev. Gabriel Leese.


Later, the College was fortunate to receive funds and buildings were constructed depending on needs.

The Prize Day of the College is also held every year.

Free education was introduced in 1945 and the College also joined the scheme. The College has classes from Grades 1 to 13, including the six streams in the G.C.E. (A/L). Children from all communities study at Wesley High School. The school also has a pre-school. The College has a unique relationship with the school society, the Education Ministry, the Zonal and Provincial Education Departments and the heads of the neighbouring government and non-government organisations.

The College progressed steadily and was elevated to the position of 1AB school due to the efficiency and selfless service of past principals, staff and the school society.

The College is located across 6.2 acres with a playground which is used both by the school society and the students. The College functioned efficiently until the outbreak of the civil war from time to time. It had several dedicated and disciplined principals who piloted its affairs to the satisfaction of the school society.

Good habits

The past principals were not only great educationists but also able administrators par excellence with a high degree of discipline.

There was a tremendous improvement in all aspects of education such as social and academic and non-academic with their dynamic organising skills. Their main goal was to enable the children to imbibe high moral values in life to inculcate selfless qualities, to cultivate good habits and to build a good character that would serve them, as well as society, well. These principals were exceptional with extraordinary and exemplary character, wisdom, culture and leadership. They served the College with distinction, indefatigable energy, undaunted determination, unimpeachable integrity, firmness and total devotion and commitment. Their enormity was unique.

Spiritual and cultural aspirations

The commemoration of the great College fills us with righteous pride and pleasure. It is very often said, ‘A man may build a ship, but a woman handles the captain in whose hands the ship is but a slave’. The flame of wisdom and brilliance imparted to students by the College will certainty permeate their very beings and make them shine to dispel the gloom of poverty and ignorance.

Rev. G.J. Trimmer (1883 - 1929), Barbara Atkins (1930 - 1940), Grace K. Thiliampalam (1941 - 1952), M.G. Nallathamby (1953 - 1954), R. Cinniah (1955 - 1961), S. J. Wilson (1962 - 1971), Yogam Velluppillai (1972 - 1979), K. Subramaniam (1980 - 1981), S. Mahalingam (1982 - 1983), B. Vengadasalam (1984 - 1997), and P. Murugiah (1998 - 2008) served as the principals with enthusiasm and tenacity.

Vadivel Prapakaran who was a teacher was promoted to the position of Principal in 2009. He is a SLEAS holder and an administrator of superiority. There is a ring of authenticity and nobility of courage and earnestness in whatever he does. He is pragmatic and practical in his approach to the issues of the College. He works for the institution with untiring dedication and determination.


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