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Old 22-05-10, 07:40 PM
sriyanjay sriyanjay is offline
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Default A Tribute To A Doyen.

A Tribute To A Doyen.

I had the rare distinction of joining the great school by the sea. I would say that I was rather fortunate, as I had no claims by way of family connections and other considerations, other than exceptional achievements at the entrance examination which resulted in the selection for admission to the Primary section of the school immediately after the World War II. The school had just begun re-organization, thus having elbow room for a few additional students. I offer my grateful thanks to the dynamic Warden, Canon R.S.de Saram who always gave priority to deserving students at the admission examinations and I benefited as a result of Warden de Saram's magnanimity. Thus the selection for admission was the biggest windfall experienced by me in my life.

Joining S.Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia from Central College, Hikkaduwa, where my late father Mr.G.P.Mandawala, was the Principal, took me a few months to adjust myself to the environment of S.T.C.and my school life was quite a happy one. Amongst the outstanding teachers attached to the primary School, I must mention with great sincerity and respect Mr.J.H.S.Peiris, of U3A class master. Through a tough disciplinarian with a rough exterior, he was extremely kind and understanding. He taught us an array of subjects English, Sinhala, History, Geography and Ethics. He seldom spared the rod and spoilt the child. Revd.R.Barnabas was Head Master of the Primary School, who had a flare for Sinhala Melodies. He made me sing "Handapare" at the weekly assembly and Revd. Barnabas joining us .He had a baritone voice which sounded quite funny for the small children as his voice ruptured the musical tone of the melody.

By January 1947, I was promoted to the Middle School. The Sinhala Master Mr C.L.T. Fernando, who was nick-named "Polkudda"; as he had the habit of often cleaning his teeth with the tongue, left the staff. Canon R S de Saram, the Warden,
a classical scholar with a great vision was in search of outstanding teachers to equip the Sinhala department of the school which needed complete re-organization. At that time we had only two outstanding Sinhala qualified teachers viz Mr C S Weerasinghe and A J P de Alwis. Warden de Sarams' untiring effort resulted in more competent Sinhala teachers joining the staff. Mr D S Jayasekera, Edwine Ranawaka followed by Messers Ariesen Ashubodha, G.L.Jinadasa, Chandradasa Coperahewa and Vinnie Vitharane joining the staff. S.Thomas' had a great impact on the effective teaching of Sinhala Language with a galaxy of capable Sinhala teachers joining the staff from 1947 onwards. The form master of Lower 4 C class was Mr W I Muthiah, the renowned Scout Master of S T C. He taught us English and the College Lower 4th English text was "The Treasure Island". As he enters the class we used to sing the famous poem "Fifteen men on the dead man's chest Yahoo!! Yahoo!! and a bottle of Rum." with sever tamping on our desks which served us as the class room orchestra. He was such a lovely teacher who never got offended and with a broad smile he continued with his English lesson.

With the resignation of Mr.C.L.T.Fernando, Mr.D.S.Jayasekera had been appointed the new Sinhala teacher. Instead of the bulky, stooping teacher, we witnessed an immaculately dressed in a well starched white suit, a tall figure entering the L4C Sinhala class.Having introduced himself as the new Sinhala teacher he made it known to us that he was an old boy of St. Joseph's College. Undoubtedly a product of another leading school. He appeared to be soft spoken and gentle. However,it was observed firmness in his speech. Having had a word or two almost with each one of us, he outlined his program of work as detailed to him by the school authorities.

I can well remember his introductory lesson. He emphasized the importance of good reading accompanied by correct pronunciation, recital of poems and above all good hand-writing and spelling of words. Ours was a mixed class of boys consisting Sinhalese, Burghers and a few Muslims studying Sinhala as a language.He made some of us to read a few lines from Lanerolle's " Pasal Samaya" and a verse or two from Sagarapalangsooriy's "Sudo Sudu" while I was asked to recite a few poems and pel-kavi. He did not stop at that, he took me across to higher classes and made me to recite poems from "Guththila Kavya" and "Kusa Jatakaya".This turned out to be a new experience to me and helped me to build self confidence. Meeting the new Sinhala teacher Mr.D.S.Jayasekera in May 1947 turned out to be an unforgettable event to many of us.

Periodical inspection of class-room work by the Government Inspector of schools was quite a matter of routine. I could remember the visit of Mr.D.W.Kaluarachchi who visited the L4C class for inspection of Sinhala. Mr.D.S.Jayasekera ordered me to read a paragraph from Lanarolle's "Pasal Samaya", the sinhala text,a poem from Sagarapalansooriya's "Sudo Sudu"the poetry book and to present my sinhala file for inspection to Mr. Kaluarachchi.At S.T.C. the College had introduced a filing system of class work done in the Middle School. Mr Jayasekera briefed the inspector the filing system introduced by the school, instead of using exercise books to maintain a record of work done.The inspector appeared to be quite pleased with the new system.

One day in early October 1947, Mr. Jayasekera was seen rushing to his L4C Sinhala class. He appeared to be somewhat excited. He suddenly called up R.P.Wickremarchchi, the class monitor and ordered the monitor to accompany me to the General Notice Board. He said "Mandawala, read the notice board and report back to me." I was completely puzzled over his remark.The General Notice Board prominently displayed the "Prize Winners" for the year 1946.I was stunned to see my name being included. I was to be awarded " The Nihal Sri Kantha Samarasinghe memorial prize for Sinhala in U3 Form.Reporting back to Mr. Jayasekera, he congratulated me for my achievements and said, "Mandawala, you should continue with your good work."Undoubtedly it was a happy day.The 17th of October 1947 was the Prize Giving day. I was extremely happy to receive the cover ted award from Lady Monck Mason Moore. His Excellency Sir Hendry Monck Mason Moore, the Governor and Lady Moore were the Chief Guests at the Prize Giving. Undoubtedly, it was a red letter day for me.

From 1947 onwards the standard of Sinhala in a Western oriented school was being strengthened to to suit the changing environmental pattern of a changing society. Thanks to the great vision of Canon R.S. de Saram, the Warden. With the capable guidance of Mr C.S.Weerasinghe, the Faculty Head, Mr.Jayasekera was responsible for the inculcation of behavioral patterns in a fast changing society among the students. The entire education being inthe English Medium, there was little respect shown to-wards the learning of Sinhala. Sinhala was seldom by the students as they were from very affluent English speaking homes .English was the medium of communication amongst the students belonging to all ethnic groups. Mr.Jayasekera skilfully used both English and Sinhala languages so as to make the students understand the value of effective communication. He also made the students understand the futility of language barriers. A language was meant for effective communication. The gradual transformation was becoming very effective. This won him great respect. Mr. Jayasekera was the chief architect behind this transformation.

Mr.Jayasekera's effective role at S.T.C had just begun.With the capable guidance of Mr. C.S
Weerasinghe, he re-organized defunct Sinhala Junior and Senior Literary Societies. Lakshman Ratnapala and self being appointed Joint Secretaries of the Junior Literary Society. By 1950 Mr. Jayasekera introduced the Sinhala Oratorical Contest for senior students with an award for the Best Orator.The final outcome being the organization of a Senior Debating Society.

He undertook the laborious task of training the participants and briefed us on effective speaking and emphasised on a few Dos and Don'ts.
1.To develop a calm temper.
2.To develop the ability to think clearly and objectively.
3.To use correct phraseology in addressing the Chair and members of the opposition.
4.To avoid mannerisms.
5.To avoid gesticulation while addressing.
6.Not to lean on the table but to cultivate an upright position and stand clear of the table.
7.To speak quite clearly and softly.
8.To avoid bad language and personal abuse and stressed the use of refined language.

Mr.Jayasekera's next step was to introduce the Sinhala Drama "Mayuri" in 1951. The cinema idol Gamini Fonseka was the outstanding product of Mr.Jayasekera.

The month of December 1954 had dawned. My ten year period as a student was coming to and end. I wished Good-Bye to my revered teacher, a guide, philosopher indeed, not realizing that there would be something left for me at my Alma-Mater in the years to come. Are there such dedicated, lovable teachers NOW ???



Abraham Lincoln........."If friendship is your weakest point then you are the strongest person in the world"
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Last edited by sriyanj; 15-05-15 at 11:52 PM.
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