Panadura Balika Vidyalaya | Sunday Observer

Panadura Balika Vidyalaya

21 May, 2023
Panadura Girls’ High School
Panadura Girls’ High School

Panadura Balika Maha Vidyalaya opened its doors to students in the area on June 15, 1951. It was first established as an evening school in a building belonging to the Kalutara Walana Mahanama Vidyalaya before moving to a three-acre plot of land donated by philanthropist Upali Dias.

Its first principal was Soma Munindrasa. The foundation stone for the school was placed by the then Minister of Education M.D. Banda in 1954 allowing the school to leave the Mahananam Vidyalaya behind and start the school on its own premises on September 2, 1955. This is where the school still stands, in the heart of busy Panadura.

The school in its 70-year journey has had many successes. Its students have displayed their academic talents as well as prowess in sports and other extracurricular activities bringing glory to their school. The school’s GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) classes commenced in 1956 while the Advanced Level (A/L) classes commenced in 1957. Commencing a handicraft section and a music section, as well as opening the ‘Subhawi’ main assembly hall in 1958 are some of the key milestones of the school.

Numerous challenges

Principal S.P. Gunawardena

Today the school is headed by its principal S.P Gunawardena. Over the course of her eight-year tenure, she has successfully navigated the school through numerous challenges and hurdles including Covid-19, ensuring its triumph and success. The school currently educates 1,618 students across all grades and has 72 academic staff as well as nine non-academic staff.

In one of its most remarkable achievements, the school was able to secure a 100 percent pass rate at the recently held GCE O/L examination. Despite the many obstacles faced including Covid-19, lack of staff, inadequate hostel facilities and others, the students of the Panadura Balika Vidyalaya have managed to triumph at the examination in the past decade through the efforts of the teachers, parents and of course, their own dedication.

In 2021, 178 students from four O/L classes sat for the exam and the entire group qualified to enter the A/L class. The school has maintained a 100 percent pass rate since 2008 which in turn has become a 15-year unbroken record.

The school as a result of these remarkable results was ranked as the number one school in the Western Province according to the performance indicators of the Examinations Department. Even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the students who sat for 29 subjects were able to secure 73 A 9 passes, 36 A 8 passes and 17 A 7 passes. The pass rate relating to each subject except for Eastern Music was also an impressive 100 percent. The pass rate for Eastern Music is 83 percent.

The school’s students also obtained impressive results at the 2020 Advanced Level examination. A 96 percent pass rate was recorded in the A/L Commerce stream while the corresponding figure for the Arts stream was 94 percent. Its students led the District in Commerce, Arts and Science in 2020 and another student was ranked island first in the Biology Stream in 2020.

Covid-19 pandemic

Ordinary Level students were forced to learn online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The school administration was able to commence online lessons the very next day after the lockdown was declared.

An online Zoom lesson timetable was formulated and lessons were scheduled from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The school also initiated a special program to support students who faced difficulties in attending online lessons due to technical issues such as the lack of 4G signals or a lack of devices such as smartphones and laptops.

The school also held pre-tests for Year 11 students and organised revision lessons with tutorials for students who needed additional help in certain subjects.

The school is also ably supported by its past pupils residing here and abroad. A new three-storeyed building was constructed recently with donations received from Prof. Suwanda Sugunasiri (now Ven. Mihita Thera), in remembrance of his wife Swarnalatha Bellana who was a past pupil of the school. This building now houses the school’s multi-language laboratory and also a mathematics laboratory.

The principal is supported by Deputy Principals C.K.M Chandrika, W.G.L Rodrigo, Assistant Principals K.J.K Tissera and A.N.I Perera and other sectional heads for Grades 6-13.

The school is home to the best science laboratory and library in the Kalutara Education Zone. The library is used to promote reading among the students and improve especially their English knowledge. On Fridays, all school activities including the morning assembly take place in English.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and other obstacles, the school also obtained many wins in sports and other activities including cadeting, karate, netball, hockey and gymnastics.

Wide-ranging talents

The students have also displayed their wide-ranging talents in areas including art, music, and dancing as well in recent times. They have also won several school drama competitions held in the region.

Panadura Balika Vidyalaya is a prime choice for Year 5 scholarship holders who come from far-flung areas, but the lack of hostel facilities has become a problem for these students. School authorities say that if hostel facilities are established in due course, they can attract more students to the school, which also needs more teachers and building facilities.

In fact, some children who have even been selected for elite schools in Colombo have opted to attend Panadura Balika due to its academic excellence. The school authorities hope to continue this winning streak.