A firm foundation for productive citizens | Sunday Observer
Gurukula Vidyalaya

A firm foundation for productive citizens

6 August, 2023
O/L toppers and subject teachers
O/L toppers and subject teachers

The Gurukula Vidyalaya opened its doors to students as an English medium mixed school established by the Peliyagoda Vidyalankara Sangha Sabha on the grounds of the famous Vidyalankara Pirivena on July 1, 1948, just a few months after the country gained Independence.

The founding fathers of the school, including Ven. Yakkaduwe Pannarama Thera, Ven. Ratmalane Dharmara Thera, Ven. Naththandiye Pannakara Thera, Ven. Kiriwanthuduwe Sri Pannasara Thera, and others, had a clear vision for the institution. They aimed to offer an education that would foster a future generation free from colonial influence, emphasising Buddhist values and principles.

The school which commenced with a mere 14 students consisting of both clergy and laity, became a Government school in 1961. In 1964, it was moved to a location on the Kelaniya Station Road where it continues to stand today. July 26, 1966 marked a remarkable milestone in the school’s history when it was declared a national school by the Government. In 2023, the school marked its 75th anniversary.

Principal Dr. Kusala Fernando

Educationist B.J. Fernando assumed the role of the school’s inaugural principal, and since then, the institution has produced numerous distinguished persons, including scientists, doctors, engineers, and artists, who have honed their skills and talents within the school’s halls.

Presently, the school provides education for both boys and girls, from Grades 1 to 13. Situated in a serene environment in Kelaniya, not far from the City of Colombo, the school also offers English medium classes from Grade 6. It caters to students in the Arts, Commerce, and Science streams for their Advanced Level (A/L) studies. Tamil and several other languages are also taught to students.

Under the guidance of the current Principal, Dr. Kusala Fernando, Gurukula Vidyalaya aspires to be recognised as the top co-educational institution in Sri Lanka by 2025. Incidentally, Dr. Fernando is one of the few principals in Sri Lanka having a doctorate.

The school boasts a committed team of 146 teaching staff, including several Ven. Theras, diligently working to enhance the educational goals of its 3,109 students. In addition to this, they receive invaluable support from 37 non-teaching staff members, as well as the School Alumni Association and the School Development Society (SDS). Their support has played a pivotal role in assisting the students to attain outstanding results in all national-level exams.

Highest performance

Among the recent exam results, 112 students from Gurukula Vidyalaya appeared for the 2022 Grade 5 scholarship exam, with 35 students passing, resulting in a pass percentage of 31.25 percent. Notably, an impressive 99.10 percent of the students scored more than 70 marks.

In the overall result sheet, Gurukula stands out as the school with the highest performance among all the schools in the Kelaniya Division.

In the 2021 Ordinary Level (O/L) examination, held in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, of 350 students from Gurukula appeared, and an impressive 326 students qualified to study for Advanced Level (A/L), yielding a pass percentage of 98 percent. Among the successful candidates, 42 students achieved outstanding 9 A passes, while 30 students secured an impressive 8 A passes. Additionally, 37 students obtained a commendable result of 7 A passes. This was one of the best results from the region’s schools.

Gurukula Vidyalaya has gained recognition among the schools in the Kelaniya Division for its remarkable achievements in raising the results of the Ordinary-Level examinations within a short span of time, despite the pandemic that raged for almost three years. The school has implemented various special measures, such as providing additional teaching support for underprivileged students, organising lectures and workshops by in-house and outside subject experts for each subject, and conducting special treatment programs to identify and address the challenges faced by weaker students. These programs were uninterrupted by the pandemic.

Online teaching

Amid the Covid pandemic, Gurukula Vidyalaya adapted to the situation by shifting to online teaching methods. Remarkably, over 60 percent of the total student population actively participated in the virtual learning sessions according to a pre-set time table, ensuring their continued education despite the challenging circumstances. There was an enthusiastic response from the teachers as well, with most of them teaching the students online at their own expense (data and electricity costs etc).

Cricket made its debut at the school in the 1980s and it has since emerged as a dominant force among Western Province schools. Nalin Wijesinghe serves as the teacher in charge of sports, overseeing a diverse range of over 15 sports, including athletics, cricket for both boys and girls, elle, chess, wushu, netball, handball, football, table tennis, and karate. In all-island and regional track and field competitions, Gurukula Vidyalaya consistently achieves high rankings among schools in the Kelaniya region.

Recently, Gurukula Vidyalaya has introduced boxing and martial arts for both boys and girls training with the primary objective of instilling in students the courage to confront life’s challenges and build strong and resilient personalities.

The college celebrated its 75th anniversary on July 30, marking the occasion with various religious and cultural programs. As part of the celebrations, a momentous Twenty 20 cricket match between Gurukula Vidyalaya Kelaniya and Dharmaloka College, Kelaniya, is scheduled for August 13 at the Thurstan College Sports Ground, Colombo. Additionally, an art, sculpture, and photography exhibition will take place at Colombo University on September 5, 6, and 7.

Diverse fields

Dr. Kusala Fernando, the current principal who assumed office in 2021 amid the pandemic, has brought innovative ideas to the college’s development, with one unique concept being the introduction of a “human library.” As part of this initiative, experts from diverse fields, many of whom are former students, are invited to the school to share their professional knowledge and experiences with the current senior students.

The school is dedicated to preparing students for their future careers by implementing leadership training programs in various sectors. With the college motto “Pagna Udapadi” (Let there be knowledge), the focus is on nurturing students to be wise and compassionate individuals, both today and in the days to come.

Pix by Nissanka Wijeratne