Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya celebrates 78 years | Daily News

Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya celebrates 78 years

Nestled in a small hill with its beautiful wooded slopes in close proximity to the Colombo – Kandy main road is Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya. This premier seat of learning in Sri Lanka marked its 78th anniversary on November 2, 2021.

Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya which was destined to be the first Buddhist girls’ school in Kegalle was founded in 1943 under the patronage of the Buddhist Theosophical Society. P.D.S.Kularathna the then General Manager of the Buddhist Schools pioneered in founding the school at the request of Leela Wijerathna, (Nee Pethiyagoda) wife of sir Edwin Wijerathna who was a member of the State Council in 1931.

At the inception, the school was housed in a rented building with only seven students on its roll. Anula Udalagama assumed duties as the founder principal on her own volition and the tutorial staff consisted of only two assistant teachers.

The rapid increase of the student population compelled the school to be shifted to a more spacious location. Accordingly, a block of land called ”Buddenipolahena” was purchased with the financial contributions made by some philanthropists of the area and the Buddhist Theosophical Society. By 1953, the school had on its roll 160 students and the academic staff consisted of 12 assistant teachers.

The classes were held from the lower primary section up to the senior section. The year 1952 witnessed the students of Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya sitting for the Senior School Certificate Examination for the first time. Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya which was run by the Buddhist Theosophical Society as one of its assisted schools since its inception was taken over by the government in 1960 under the Assisted Schools and Training Colleges Act No.05 of 1960

In 1962, P.B.G.Kalugalla the then Minister of Education was instrumental in allocating government funds to erect several permanent buildings for the school. All the temperory buildings were demolished to make way for the new buildings which were declared open on January 14, 1964.

Udalagama , facing all odds with steely determination rendered a yeoman service as the founder principal for almost three decades. The steady progress recorded by the school in terms of physical development and academic achievements speaks volumes of her unflagging courage and utmost dedication. In appreciation of her invaluable service, she was bestowed the honorary title ”Sri Lanka Sikhamani” in 1991

In 1970, Irene Muthunayaka took over the reins of administration as principal upon the retirement of Anula Udalagama. During her tenure of office, the school made great strides in respect of academic achievements. For the first time in the history of the school, several students who appeared for the G.C.E. (Advanced

Level) Examination in the Biology and Math’s streams gained admission to university.

In September 1977, Seetha Amarakoon assumed duties as principal. During her brief stint of three years, she maintained the standard of the school on par with her predecessors.

Rupa Malawana, though she assumed duties as an assistant teacher, subsequently went on to play second fiddle to Muthunayaka as her deputy for almost ten years. In 1980, Rupa Malawana got her name written in the annals of the history of this school as its fourth principal. During her tenure of office which spanned over two decades, the physical facilities of the school developed by leaps and bounds. The school was elevated to a national school in 1991, solely because of her sheer determination and remarkable courage.

”Buddenipola Walavuwa” which was incidentally the ancestral home of Sir Edwin Wijerathna was bestowed upon the school in 1995 by the then president D.B.Wijethunga, at the request of Rupa Malawana. This sprawling mansion is now being used as the girls’ hostel.

Rupa Malawana was succeeded by Mallika Ranasinghe as principal. She being a class I officer of the Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service toiled hard to bring the school in to prominence, especially in terms of academic achievements.

The year 2009 witnessed A.M.D.U.K.Amarasinghe assuming duties as principal. During her stay at this school, She implemented several subject related projects to ensure a better results percentage at the G.C.E. (Ordinary Level) and (Advanced Level) Examinations.

Manel Wasala was successor to A.M.D.U.K. Amarasinghe as principal and she assumed duties in 2014 . During her short spell of Stewardship as principal she implemented several well – conceived plans which paid rich dividends. The school continued to excel in many a field such as academic, co-curricular and sport etc. Unfortunately, her untimely death, just three years after assuming duties cut short of what would have otherwise been an illustrious career as principal of a leading girls school in the island.

The incumbent principal Chandima Himali Thennakoon took over the reins of administration on April 5, 2018. She enjoyed a rare privilege of being the principal when Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya celebrated her 75th anniversary which fell on November 2, 2018. The 75th anniversary of the school was celebrated amidst pomp and pageantry with the participation of serval distinguished guests. Therefore, the year 2018 had all the earmarks of a milestone year for the school.

This prestigious school has made its present felt both in academic and extra – curricular activities. The school athletes, cricketers and cadets have won numerous accolades at national and international levels.

Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya has stood the test of time and has been successful in grooming young girls of the country in to valuable citizens. As per the mission of the school, it has embarked on ”a mission of bestowing a generation of disciplined and virtuous ladies upon the nation” The illustrious old girls who represent all walks of life are the true embodiment of the mission of the school. They have many a reason to be proud of their alma mater as they were moulded and nurtured within the hallowed precincts of this premier seat of learning.

The school has recorded such a meteoric rise in terms of physical development and academic achievements under the stewardship of the incumbent principal Chandima Himali Thennakoon. The rapid increase of students who gain admission to university bears testimony to the fact that the impetus given to education has borne fruits. Be it academic achievements, sports or extra – curricular activities, the school has carved out a niche for itself as a trend setter.

Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya has numerous state of the art facilities which include an indoor stadium, a well – equipped Library and smart class rooms. Most of the school buildings are located amidst wooded slopes and hilly terrain, adjacent to the ”Kurulukele” forest reserve which provides an ideal environment for the girls to pursue their studies in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

The academic and non – academic staff should be commended for their indefatigable courage and dedication shown in executing their duties. The Old Girls Association which is one of the strongest in the area is indeed and asset to the school.

Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya has been a beacon of light to thousands of young girls over the 78 years of its existence and will continue to remain as such. Long live Kegalu Balika.

(The writer of this article is a member of the academic staff of Kegalu Balika Vidyalaya)

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