76 years of educational excellence | Sunday Observer
Dodangoda National School

76 years of educational excellence

10 September, 2023
School prefects Pix: Nissanka Wijeratne
School prefects Pix: Nissanka Wijeratne

On September 27, 1947, Minister of Education, C.W.W. Kannangara, now universally hailed as the father of free education in Sri Lanka, inaugurated the ‘Government English Junior School’ in Dodangoda, Kalutara with the support of several philanthropists in the area. As of September 27, 2023, the school proudly commemorates its 76th anniversary. Today the school is known as the Dodangoda National School.

In its early days, the school had only a handful of students, and Government teachers were not appointed until three months later. Therefore, at its inception, a few volunteer teachers played a crucial role in providing education to students. The school’s first principal was K.C. De Silva, and on May 1, 1959, it officially became a Government English School. This marked the beginning of the school’s golden era.

Significant milestone

After undergoing various changes throughout its journey, a significant milestone was reached when the school attained the status of a National School in 2021, the midst of the Covid pandemic when most teaching had gone online. The Dodangoda National School has earned a distinguished reputation in the region due to its infrastructure and academic advancements, along with numerous achievements at divisional, regional, and provincial levels. The school is currently under the leadership of Principal B.R. Chaminda, a Class I officer of the Sri Lanka Principals’ Service.

Having embarked on his teaching career in 1996, Principal B.R. Chaminda’s dedication and commitment led to his appointment as the head of Dodangoda National School in 2021. His journey included a decade of hard work and six years as a primary teachers’ consultant in the Kalutara Education Zone.

The Dodangoda National School is a co-educational (mixed) institution that offers education from Grade 1 to Grade 13. It offers GCE Advanced Level programs in both Commerce and Arts sections. The school currently has a student population of 1,227 with a dedicated academic staff comprising 57 teachers.

Additionally, the school receives support from three development officers and eight non-academic staff members, and the Alumni Association and the School Development Committee (SDC) play crucial roles in supporting and contributing to the school’s development when needed.

Principal B.R. Chaminda emphasized that, in addition to academic skills, the school’s main objectives include fostering communication skills, personality development, environmental awareness, preparation for the world of work and higher education, religious and ethical values, as well as skills for sports and aesthetics.

Under Principal Chaminda’s leadership, the school has successfully implemented a program aimed at securing the future of students who do not pass the GCE Advanced Level examination. This program provides them with professional knowledge and skills development up to NVQ 4 level. Importantly, it ensures 13 years of continuous education, starting in the year 2021, and employs modern technology to achieve its goals.

The current principal has initiated a range of programs, including the establishment of a women’s cadet troop, the re-activation of the environmental club and various infrastructure improvements of the school that is located in a serene locality. Additionally, efforts have been made to develop the leadership and personality of the students under his leadership.

Physical resource

Principal B.R. Chaminda

The school boasts essential physical resources, including fully equipped computer and technology labs, a modern auditorium, a fully-equipped canteen, a teacher’s hostel, a home lab, a mathematics lab, and well-maintained smart classrooms. Notably, it is the only school in the Dodangoda division to have a dental surgery facility for its students.

The school has implemented several special programs aimed at improving national-level exam results. One such program is the student-teacher mentoring system, which focuses on enhancing overall academic performance. Under this initiative, small groups of five students with lower achievement levels are formed, and they are led by a high-achieving student. Together, they work to increase their academic performance under the guidance and supervision of their teachers.

Starting from Grade 6, the school provides additional teaching time for students who score less than 40 points in each subject. The teachers volunteer additional time for this effort. There is also a special focus on addressing the needs of students with lower achievement levels in Mathematics, which is a “must-pass” subject for O/Ls, highlighting the school’s commitment to academic support and improvement.

Model exams

The school consistently produces high-achieving students in the scholarship exams. To prepare students for these exams, the school conducts six model exams throughout the year to help alleviate the fear and stress associated with the exam. Additionally, the school offers extra classes and seminars to provide further support to students preparing for this “threshold” exam.

The college has implemented a wide range of programs with the aim of nurturing a generation of students who excel not only in subject knowledge but also in sports and aesthetic skills. These programs emphasise a holistic approach to education, fostering well-rounded individuals who can enter the society with confidence.

The college boasts a variety of active clubs and societies, including Eastern and Western Bands, Women’s and Men’s Cadets Troops, Media Unit, Buddhist Society, Literary Society, Environmental Troop, and Commerce Society. Special programs, often led by outside experts, are conducted to enhance the leadership and personality development of students. Additionally, the school regularly organises drug prevention programs, and its monthly pre-school program contributes significantly to the religious upbringing of very young children.

The Dodangoda National School operates under the motto “Don’t stop and move forward.” The school has ambitious goals for the next five years, which include becoming the best “Green School” in the country, the leading sports school in the Dodangoda Education Division, the most technologically advanced school in the region, and having the best cadet troop. Additionally, the school aims to create the best religious environment and introduce the teaching of GCE Advanced-level Mathematics and Science subjects.

The school is poised to become one of the best schools in the Western region through a visionary program that will incorporate more technology and learning aids in the classroom. The students first experienced this during the pandemic and now it has become part and parcel of the school experience for them.

Academic staff

School’s netball and volleyball teams with coach

Board of Management

Women’s Cadet Troop

A primary section classroom

Media unit

Men’s Cadet Troop

Environmental Troop