What the country owes CWW Kannangara The people of our country owe C.W.W. Kannangara a deep debt of gratitude for having given us free education and thereby laid the foundation to change the social, political and economic history of our country. Who was this C.W.W. Kannangara? I am quite surprised that even many men and [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



What the country owes CWW Kannangara

The people of our country owe C.W.W. Kannangara a deep debt of gratitude for having given us free education and thereby laid the foundation to change the social, political and economic history of our country. Who was this C.W.W. Kannangara?

I am quite surprised that even many men and women over 50, born and bred in our country, do not know of what C.W.W. Kannangara achieved for our country; hence I thought it would be of value to write even a short article on the tremendous contribution he made through his life to transform this country, to what it is today. He has been an inspiration to us all. CWW hailed from a little known rural village in the south, his father had been a Buddhist whereas his mother, who had been from Hikkaduwa, was a Christian, and hence it was that he had been baptized Christopher William!  (Wijekoon Kannagara was the family name) and was how he became “C.W.W. Kannangara! Incidentally  his father had been a Sinhala poet.

CWW  had been first sent to a Wesleyan school where he had not only become first in class every year but won most of the prizes; at the annual school prize giving, at which the Chief Guest had been the Principal of Richmond Galle, Fr. Darrel Stone who had been very impressed with CWW’s performance and had invited him to do the scholarship exam to enter Richmond College Galle, which he did and qualified. Being from a relatively poor village family he had been subject to much teasing and ragging by children of richer families at Richmond. This ‘treatment’ had made him determined to succeed; at Richmond too he had been first in class ever year; his crowning achievement had been that he had come first in the whole Island in the Cambridge Senior Exam .

After that his first job had been as an Assistant teacher, and it would be of interest to know that his salary had been the princely sum of Rs. 25 a month! From there he had moved on as to teacher to Prince of Wales and from there to Wesley College, whilst at the same time studying Law. He had taken his Oaths as a Lawyer in 1910. From then on he went into politics, from Galle; he first contested the Galle seat in the Legislative Council in 1923; in 1931 he had been elected to the State Council as Member for Galle  under the Donoughmore  Constitution, he was then appointed Chairman of the Education Executive Committee, with the title of Minister of Education.

This is where his own personal life experience came into play; he always felt strongly for the poor but clever students in the villages of our country and he sought to establish scholarship schemes for children of rural schools. He had been of the opinion that it was only the rich and influential minority of our population that had the opportunity of going ahead in life. As Minister of Education he had taken steps to start new schools in areas where there were no schools, and also had the school curricular diversified and had other facilities provided to the schools. It was he that had established Central Schools in 1943, even with hostel facilities.

It is also said that it was he that introduced the University system by establishing the ‘University College of Ceylon’ affiliated to the University of London. It has been stated that it was in his time that it had been decided to establish the University at Peradeniya.

Most important of all in his career was his taking the initiative to introduced Free Education in our country. It was he that introduced the Free Education Bill in the State Council in 1945; there were many in the State Council and the country (the rich and privileged) who were opposed to the concept of free education for the masses, but he managed to steer it through and make it law.

This Bill changed our nation, which is today the most literate in South Asia. Let us build statues of him in every provincial capital not only to venerate him but also to inspire our future generations.

- K. Godage
Via email

Think before you speak

As a senior member of another profession, having practised more than 55 years both here and abroad, I must congratulate the writer of the article that appeared in ‘the Sunday Times’ of April 17, under the heading ‘With rabies avoid stray dogs; with malaria avoid all Indians” regarding a statement made by the Secretary of the GMOA , at a press conference.

Did it ever occur to this “learned” doctor as to what would happen to our trade, economy, tourism and cultural ties that existed from the time of the Enlightened One, if a reciprocal attitude is adopted by Indians claiming that Sri Lankans are Dengue carriers and should be avoided by the Indian populace. The apparent reason behind this utterance by the media spokesman is the appearance of an Indian citizen who was working at Nuwara Eliya who had contracted Malaria for no definitive reason, as the article had clearly stated.

If the GMOA is anti -Indian, they must refrain from prescribing Indian drugs, surgical items and a host of other items used by them almost every minute. This doctor had forgotten that India is one of the largest suppliers of medical requirements of this country. Then what will happen to our Health Services? Are we to import these drugs from Western countries, not considering the enormous cost to the Government? Of course it may be easy to earn fatter commissions at the expense of the poor citizens.

I am sure that the vast majority of doctors in this country will not agree with this Secretary’s advice.

The GMOA should not expect Sri Lankans, to accept a ludicrous statement made by one of their leaders.

- Tilakaratne Ranaweera
Colombo 5

Oh what a circus!

May Day is here and once again it will be the dance of the political parties showing off their might. The person who is truly responsible for workers’ rights and the celebration of May 1st as May Day, A.E. Goonesinha will be forgotten. Each year it is the same.

Hardly a word is mentioned about this great man who fought for the workers, who stood up to the British and who along with some Sri Lankan patriots fought for their rights. He is honoured as the Father of the Labour Movement in this country.

Every year the political parties are only intent on justifying their lies and more lies. May Day has become a kind of political platform to vent their anger and frustration at other parties. The workers are forgotten.

Nobody wants to listen to their grievances or fight for them any more. Shame on all the leaders of all parties.

Workers are the soul of any country. Treat them with respect and you will have a solid foundation to build on.

The country cries out for leaders like A.E. Goonesinha who sincerely and courageously fought for the country and its people. He was a leader who sacrificed  his riches and went forward determined to do good for the downtrodden people. Today hardly any politician has a vision for Sri Lanka and its people. They only have a vision of themselves filling their pockets and those of their cronies. Shame!

- Mrs. J. Ekanayake
Colombo 7

Technology can kill – let’s act now

In the wake of speculation over the very tragic demise of two beautiful children – two Holy Family Convent girls, who in the prime of their lives were killed in a train accident at Wellawatte, what flashed through my mind were the hundreds of times that I have seen both adults and youngsters who cross the roads and railway tracks either with their ears plugged to headphones or their heads bent over their phones- texting, listening to music or engrossed in a phone conversation.  I remember the many times when some of these people escaped being run down by vehicles by the skin of their teeth. Then there are those irresponsible drivers who have their ears glued to their phones while driving. Technology is good, but it has the clear potential to kill.

Isn’t it high time that the law took a firmer step to curb such life-endangering acts at least in the future? Isn’t it high time the relevant authorities framed laws in this regard and ensured that they were implemented consistently for the good of all people without looking away to avoid being inconvenienced?

- A. Nihal Perera
Colombo 6   

Garbage mess with Avurudu

I am a Resident Engineer living in the vicinity of Thalawatugoda coming under the purview of Kaduwela Pradeshiya Sabha. The scheduled day for garbage pick-up for this area is every Thursday and the last pick-up at the time of writing was on April 7, 2016 and there has been no pick-up since then because of the Sinhala New Year holidays coupled with a Poya Day (which fell on a Thursday).

The next pick-up is, hopefully, on Thursday April 28. The residents of the area cannot bear the big stink which has gone on for approximately 20 days at the time of writing this letter.

It is another proof of the fact that a country is not governed by pious resolutions but by the execution of policies conceived with foresight and courage. I hope saner counsel will prevail.

- P. Mitchum
Via email

Shelter for bus travellers at Patana Junction


As a frequent traveller on the Patana/Nawalapitiya bus route, I wish to bring to the notice of those concerned the lack of proper shelter for bus travellers to Nawalapitiya at the Patana Junction.

This route is well patronised and at any given time there are around 20 commuters waiting to board a bus to Nawalapitiya. They have to wait for hours in the scorching sun or driving rain. During wet weather it simply rains cats and dogs.

Whilst there are shelters on the Talawakelle/Hatton bus route, for some strange reason this facility is denied to the commuters to Nawalapitiya from Patana Junction.

Compared to the money spent on carpeting the roads, the expenditure on a shelter would have been just a drop in the ocean. I trust those concerned will take note and take action to end the sufferings of the poor passengers.

- David Williams

Don’t use Batta as mode of passenger transport

As an Orthopedic Surgeon who has been serving in the outstations of Sri Lanka for the past six years, I am extremely perturbed by the spate of accidents involving light body transport vehicles. Most such accidents result in death and morbid injuries.  Over the past few years the roads of Sri Lanka have been inundated with such vehicles ie. Tata  Batta EX2.   These vehicles are extremely suitable for goods transport and afford a low cost transport solution for small to medium scale business.    However nowhere in the world including in India, which is the country of origin, are these vehicles recommended for passenger transport. There is not a single safety mechanism fitted to these vehicles.  Further in Sri Lanka, most such vehicles have a hood fitted. This causes a shift in the centre of gravity, which makes the vehicles extremely unsteady.   Over the past Avurudu season Kurunegala Hospital had a spate of admissions as a result of such accidents. Most such accidents resulted multiple deaths and severe injury. One such incident resulted in the death of the mother and one child and severe injury to three other children. Most injuries result in lifelong deformities which precludes young people leading a productive life.  If Sri Lanka is to progress further we as a nation, need to take responsibility with regards to our safety.   I urge the authorities to ban “Batta” vehicles being used as a mode of passenger transport as matter of the urgency. With Vesak approaching we should be able to save precious young lives if this is implemented.

-Dr. Shivantha Fernandopulle
Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon
Teaching Hospital, Kurunegala  


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