A centre of excellence | Sunday Observer
Ananda College:

A centre of excellence

18 June, 2023

Ananda College, Colombo embarked on its remarkable educational journey almost 137 years ago, marking the inception of the first English-medium Buddhist school for boys in Sri Lanka, under the guidance of founder Col. Henry Steel Olcott.

Initially established at No. 61, Maliban Street, Pettah, on November 1, 1886, the school started with a modest enrollment of just 37 students. Led by founder Principal C.W. Leadbeater, Ananda College thrived and quickly gained recognition.

In 1889, the school relocated to a spacious 3.5-acre plot of land in Maradana, generously provided by Tudor Rajapaksha. This new site has remained the cherished home of Ananda College, accommodating a thriving student body of over 6,700 learners. On August 17, 1895, the school was officially named Ananda College, a name that has stood the test of time. The name is derived from that of Buddha’s Chief Disciple Ananda.

Ananda College encompasses an expansive campus spanning over 15 acres, signifying its growth and progress over the years. With a student population of nearly 7,000 from Grade 1 to 13, the school has established itself as a prominent institution in providing quality education. The educational needs of these students are met by a dedicated panel of 308 teachers, ensuring a comprehensive and enriching learning experience.

Throughout its history, Ananda College has been instrumental in nurturing well-rounded individuals. These Anandians have not only excelled academically but have also embraced their role as responsible citizens, actively contributing to their local communities as well as abroad.

The school takes pride in its alumni who continue to make a positive impact in various fields and serve as role models for future generations. Many Anandians have made the supreme sacrifice in defence of the motherland as members of the security forces and police.

Ananda College has been at the forefront of introducing innovative educational concepts, including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), to its curriculum. As a pioneering institution, Ananda College goes beyond the conventional school schedule. It is not confined to operating solely from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., but rather, it thrives as a vibrant hub of activity from the break of dawn until late at night.

During the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ananda College displayed its adaptability and commitment to providing uninterrupted education to its students. Recognising the importance of education and the need for continuous learning, the school swiftly implemented online lessons and embraced technology as a means of instruction.

Subject topics were discussed during school hours online while term tests and various assessments were also carried out using the same mode. As a result of the untiring efforts of both the teachers and students, its GCE Ordinary Levels (O/L) results for 2021 have been remarkable.

Steadfast commitment

Under the guidance and leadership of Principal Lal Dissanayake, Ananda College has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the success and well-being of every student, leaving no one behind. With a student-centric approach, Principal Dissanayake ensured that every individual received the support and guidance to excel academically and personally.

At the Grade 5 Scholarship Examination of 2019, Ananda College successfully guided 266 students to pass the exam, with 56 of them surpassing the cutoff mark.

Similarly, in the Scholarship Examination held in 2020, out of the 266 students from Ananda College who sat, 56 students once again achieved the expected cut-off mark, showcasing the school’s dedication to nurturing high achievers.

In 2020, Ananda College presented 522 students for the O/Ls, and an outstanding 97.51 percent of them passed the exam, 509 successful students. This high pass rate reflects the effective teaching methods and rigorous academic standards upheld by the school.

At the 2021 O/Ls, Ananda College, Colombo, had a significant 554 students sitting for the exam. Impressively, out of these students, 542 qualified for GCE Advanced Level (A/L) classes, showcasing their dedication and hard work.

Among the successful candidates, there were notable achievements in terms of individual results. 144 students achieved 9 A passes, while 64 students achieved 8 A and 1 B passes. Additionally, 23 students secured 8 A and 1 C passes, demonstrating their strong academic performance across various subjects.

With a pass percentage of 97.83 percent, Ananda College, Colombo, achieved remarkable success despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the guidance of Principal Lal Dissanayake, Ananda College has implemented initiatives to identify students in need of extra support and address the shortage of teachers in collaboration with the school development committee.

The efforts have garnered support from parents and old boys, creating a nurturing environment that ensures academic success and personal growth for all students. The Ananda College Old Boys Association (OBA) and its branches for various batches (such as the 75-80 Group and the Centenary Group) extend assistance to many initiatives of the school.

Pilot exchange program

Ananda has also been able to bring sporting glory to the school including an international chess championship following the Covid-19 pandemic. The school has also commenced a pilot exchange program to provide international experiences to its students.

Ananda College has also embarked on the innovative “green school” concept, aiming to create an environmentally friendly environment for students by eliminating the use of polythene. This project aligned with the ISO 9000 standards has served as a pilot initiative towards transforming Ananda College into a nationally recognised and effective school. It is one of the few schools to have a complete “tropical forest” in the school compound.

Under the leadership of the current principal, Ananda College has embarked on a transformative journey with various development projects.

Notable among them was the renovation of the fully air-conditioned Kularatne Hall (which can be booked for outside functions), the opening of the seven-floor Henry Moore Hall, the repair of the gymnastics stadium, and the construction of a five-storey building dedicated to STEM education.

These initiatives, with an investment of over Rs.20 million, have modernised the school’s infrastructure and created conducive spaces for learning, reflecting Ananda College’s commitment to providing a progressive and innovative educational environment.

The dedicated teaching staff at Ananda College has consistently strived to impart practical knowledge to students by providing access to well-equipped technical laboratories. As part of their ongoing efforts, the school recently introduced a laboratory focused on biosystems science and an engineering technology laboratory, offering students valuable hands-on experience.

Ananda College has evolved into a remarkable institution that offers a diverse range of sports, encompassing a total of 42 sporting disciplines. The school takes immense pride in nurturing numerous talented athletes who have not only excelled academically but have also contributed to the nation by becoming ambassadors of healthy and skilled individuals in society.

Under the guidance of Sports Council Secretary Rasika Ratnayake and Sports Administrator R.I. Ranasinghe, Ananda College has witnessed numerous achievements in sports following the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The school has excelled in various disciplines, securing victories and championships across multiple sports.

Sports teams

Ananda College’s sports teams have displayed exceptional skill and determination, earning championships in Badminton, Tennis, Wushu, Karate, Chess, Hockey, and Volleyball. Moreover, the school has consistently performed well in rowing, table tennis, rugby, boxing, and cadet bands, securing overall championships in these domains. Cricket has always remained a staple at Ananda, which has produced many world class cricketers including 1996 World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga.

The driving force behind the success of Ananda College, both in its past and present, is the collective dedication of the current principal, past principals, management board, teachers and the OBA.

Ananda College has experienced immense support from its students, alumni, development board, and parents, which has played a pivotal role in the school’s growth and accomplishments.

Ananda has one of the best-known Buddhist shrines of any school in the country and the school day begins by paying homage to the Buddha, evoking the very foundation on which Ananda College has been built.