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Following the dawn of the new year, the annual general meeting of the Central Colleges Past Pupils Association (UK) branch was held on the 17th of January at the Rising Sun Restaurant in Sudbury Hill in North London.

Though still in infancy, (association being only 2 year old) the active participation of the members, their families and many well wishers augured well for the future of the association.

A vast majority of us, who are domiciled in UK, had our primary and secondary education during our formative years, in Sri Lanka. This in no small measure was due to the free education system, which was the ‘brain child’ of the late

Dr. Charles William Wijekoon Kannangara (CWW as he was fondly and gratefully remembered as the Father of Free Education). He had the foresight, wisdom, the vision and the fair mindedness to bring education to the masses. This thirst for knowledge was the irrepressible urge that drove the late Dr. C.W.W to attain the great heights that he reached, first as a lawyer, then as a member of the Legislative Council and subsequently as the Minister of Education. He had a passionate desire and commitment to make education available to the masses through the Free Education Bill. Not unexpectedly however, there was serious opposition to the idea from the privileged class who wielded all the power and influence and who needless to say fought tooth and nail to abort this ideal.

Undeterred by the opposition to his ideal from the well to do class, he mustered the support of the poor majority, the downtrodden masses and with his passion, determination and eloquence was able to win the day to fulfill his dream of providing Free Education to all from kindergarten through to University. This Bill was effective from 01/10/1945. This marked the birth of the Central Schools/Colleges in Sri Lanka.

It is fair to say that we all are indebted to late Dr. C.W.W for who we are today. It is incumbent upon us to give back something to the Central Schools, which nurtured us during our formative years.

As the saying goes, “we make a living by what we get, but make a life by what we give”. It is with this objective in mind that the CCPPA (UK) wishes to promote, support and develop educational activities in Central Colleges of Sri Lanka, which are either inadequately provided for, or deprived of such facilities.

It was felt that rather than individually supporting each Central College, collectively, we could achieve and create a more positive impact to a broader array of central schools through fund raising events and also widening our membership to include all those who have benefitted through the free education system in Sri Lanka. The parent association in Sri Lanka, which has over 1500 members, has given the blessings to the UK branch to function as an independent organization in terms of fund raising, allocation of monies and funding projects etc in Sri Lanka as long as the Central Schools continue to be the beneficiaries. The following office bearers for 2016 were elected at the AGM:

President: Dr. Kusum Subesinghe

Vice Presidents: Major V.B Karunaratna and Mrs. Lakshmi de Zoysa MBE

Joint Secretaries: Mr. Aravinda Indrasinghe and Mr. Lalith Amarasinghe

Treasurer: Capt. John Piyasiri Botenne

Committee members

The president Dr. Kusum Subesinghe whilst thanking the out going committee and in particular the out going president Mr. R .A. Wimalasekera, pointed out that the task at hand is to disseminate the fact that the CCPPA –UK branch, being the only overseas branch of CCPPA of Sri Lanka, exists as an organization, amongst the Sri Lankan expatriates and to invite all like minded people who have benefitted through the free education in Sri Lanka to join hands in this noble venture of helping our Central schools including the central schools in the North and East.

A good will message sent by Mr. Padmasiri Ranawakaarachchi, the president of CCPPA, the parent association of Sri Lanka, was read out. In it he goes on to appreciate the efforts being made by the CCPPA-UK branch, and wished the association success in all future endeavours.

The keynote address at the AGM was delivered by the Sri Lankan Educationist and Fulbright scholar Mrs. Lakshmi de Zoysa MBE. Lakshmi devoted the early part of her speech to highlight the enormity of Dr. C. W. W Kannangara’s groundbreaking achievements and contribution to education.  She pointed out that Sri Lanka boasts of a higher literacy level of over 92.6% compared with global literacy level of 86.3%, thanks to free education with equal opportunities being made available to the masses. She went on to describe how her own career took off from meagre and humble beginnings at Tissa Vidyalaya in Kalutara (till it became a central school in 1945) to being appointed the first ethnic minority Director of the Centre of Educational Studies in the Inner London Education Authority. The influence of the thinking and the principles of equality of opportunity Dr. Kannagara so valued, still continue to affect her life and has been crucial in her career development.  

Following the AGM, those attending were treated to a sumptuous buffet meal of a variety of Sri Lankan food and it is fair to say that we all ‘ate to our stomach’s content’. There was lunchtime music to create the right ambience, courtesy of Dr. Nyanis Subesinghe, and once the dessert was tucked into, sing song of old favourites followed with many members joining in the singing.

The proceedings were rounded off with the singing of the Central College song and the Sri Lankan national anthem.

Any one desirous of joining the CCPPA (UK) can do so at a nominal subscription of £10 per annum.

For further information please contact:

Major V.B.Karunaratna - 07947 155 442

Mr. Lalith Amarasinghe - 07875 766 775

Capt. John Botenne – 0208 749 3180

Mr. Aravinda Indrasinghe - 07854 220 645

Mr. Nishantha Vithana - 07426 114148

Dr. Kusum Subesinghe - 07905 104 782

Mrs. Lakshmi de Zoyza  MBE 0208 9076097

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