My Lord Bishop of Colombo, Chaplain and other clergymen, members of the Trinity College Board of Governors, Chief Guest (the Honourable Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka), Guest of Honour (the Honourable Kabir Hashim, Minister of Public Enterprise Development) and Mrs Nazly Kabir, distinguished guests, academic staff, parents, and Boys and Old Boys of this great Institution. It gives me the greatest pleasure to welcome you all to this year’s Prize Giving at Trinity College, Kandy.
The format today will be a little different from normal. I am absolutely delighted that the Prime Minister has been able to spare time in his incredibly busy schedule to be with us at Trinity today; it is so busy, though, that he has to fly back to Colombo for another event this evening, so he is only able to be here for part of the proceedings.
So I will start by delivering some of my Principal’s Report before inviting the Prime Minister to address us. The Senior Prefect will then give a brief response, and I shall then invite the Prime Minister to award some prizes before he leaves us. Following his departure, I will conclude my Report, Mr Kabir Hashim will address us, and we shall distribute the rest of the prizes.
We are not printing the Principal’s Report this year. It is a massive waste of paper. Instead, as soon as the Prize Giving is concluded, it will be posted in full on the new College Website. One other difference from previous years is that we are giving out Book Vouchers this year, rather than books themselves. Boys can then choose and order appropriate books at leisure, rather than picking random and often unsuitable books from a bookshop with limited stock.
I hope parents will ensure that all prize winners purchase a book which they will wish to keep for the rest of their lives. I still have the books which I won as prizes at school and they bring back happy memories of my school days whenever I look at them. I am sure that is true of many of us sitting on the stage today.
To begin with, I would like to say a few words about our illustrious Chief Guest to you. Of course, the Prime Minister needs no introduction as he has been a central figure in Sri Lankan politics for 40 years. Indeed, he became a Cabinet Minister for the first time in 1977, when he was only 28 years old. His first Ministry, rather suitably for one so young, was the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Employment.
However, in 1980, Mr Wickremesinghe took over the crucial role of Minister of Education. He spent nine very productive years in this position, initiating radical reforms aimed at significantly improving education in this country. Interestingly, even in those very early days of the global Technology Revolution, he had the vision to realise the importance of developing IT and Computer skills, as well as rebuilding levels of English. And he was 100% correct on both counts.
There is no need for me to take you all through the last 20 years of Sri Lankan politics. Suffice it to say that Mr Wickremesinghe has been right at the centre of it throughout, mostly as Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition. Since January 2015 he has been Prime Minister for the third time. Amongst his aims when he took over was to revitalize the economy, create more jobs and ensure a stable, prosperous future for Sri Lanka’s youth. I can see, Sir, that your job as Minister of Education means that you have remained interested in young people and the importance of Education to the future of the country. It is so good to have a Prime Minister who cares deeply about this.
I am personally delighted that you are able to be with us here today; not just as Prime Minister but also as a Royalist. It is very important that the relationship between Trinity and Royal remains a close one. Recently, it has needlessly come under some strain, and I have said to the Royal College Principal that we must do all we can to rectify that. Having you here today, Sir, will hopefully help us do just that.
About nine years ago, we had dinner together at the house of one of your senior UNP colleagues whose daughters were at the school where I was then Principal. You said to me that if you had your time again, you would rather like to be a History teacher. And you told me some fascinating things about Sri Lankan history that showed me how good you would be at it. So, if you ever get bored of politics and fancy a career change, you would always be welcome to join the staff of Trinity College!
I am sure that your uncle, the great Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe, would approve as a former Chairman of the Board. I couldn’t pay you that much, I’m afraid; but it’s a good place to work. The Kandy climate is very pleasant and we still like to think of ourselves as ‘the best school of all”… though I appreciate that you might have a slightly different view!
In a minute, I shall ask the Prime Minister to address us all. However, before that, let me speak a little about the past year and share with you my vision for the future of Trinity College. As I begin my second year as Principal of this great Institution, I have become more and more impressed by what our boys achieve in all sorts of areas of school life. So many of the things that happen at Trinity, especially in the Upper School, are really achieved as a result of the enthusiasm, dedication and creativity of the boys themselves. Teachers, Parents and Old Boys help facilitate in lots of ways, of course. However, it really is the senior boys who themselves are the driving force behind so much of what happens at the College.
I said in my speech this time last year that one of the hardest jobs that those of us in administration at Trinity have to do is the Admissions process. Little did I know at the time just how true that was going to be just a few months later. There were 600 applicants for 125 places in Grade 1 this year, for example. Of course, the easiest thing to do would be simply to let the school continue to get bigger and bigger. That seems to have been what has been done over the past 30 years or so. On the other hand, the size of the campus has remained the same and there have been very few new facilities or buildings put up during that time.
So, I am delighted that the Board of Governors has wisely made the decision to reduce the numbers in the school by about 12% over the next 5 years. This may not sound much, but it will see a significant reduction of about 400 boys. This will mean that there is more space, more opportunity for all boys to make their mark and discover their talents, and less of a survival of the fittest ethic which has clearly affected levels of discipline quite substantially. In addition, class sizes can become smaller and more akin to what one would expect in a Private School. I have never met a teacher or an educationalist who does not believe that children learn better in smaller classes.
Of course, reducing numbers means that Admission will become even more competitive. So it is vital that the whole process is transparent, comprehensible and (above all) fair. I am very grateful to the Admissions Committee appointed to look after the admissions for 2017. I can assure everyone that the process was conducted in a totally fair and honest way; and this will continue in the future, certainly as long as I am at Trinity. No money will change hands nor favours be exchanged in order to admit boys through the back door. Trinity has been a leading school for so many years, and we must set the highest standards for ourselves in terms of professionalism, honesty and integrity.
This is true in all areas of school life, but particularly in the admissions process where, as you all know, corruption and dishonesty are commonplace even in top schools within Sri Lanka. I fear that may have been the case at Trinity in the past, but it must not be so in the future. And to any who benefitted financially from dishonest behaviour, including a few Old Boys and teachers I am afraid to say, I ask you today to stop causing trouble and spreading lies on social media; stop trying to profit at the school’s expense, and stop behaving in a very un-Trinitian way. The Management and Board should not be targeted for being honest. Please accept the fact that you will no longer be able to make money dishonestly out of Trinity and start supporting the school in the correct fashion. I am not going to name names, but you (and I) know who you are.
Old Trinitians I have met this year are very fond of talking about the core values of the College; how they seem to have declined over the years; and how they must be rekindled. And I agree with them. Virtues like honesty, self-discipline, compassion, integrity and sportsmanship really need to be instilled in our boys from the earliest age. And it needs to be done at home as well as at school.
Of course it is a tough world today; so in addition to those old Core Values, we also need to instill qualities like competitiveness, determination, collaboration, leadership, critical thinking and creativity. Having said that at great schools like Trinity, Royal and my own alma mater, Eton, these “soft-skills” have always been instilled, not so much in the classroom, but through sports and extra-curricular activities.
Having said that, it is important that all those of us who are teachers, whatever our age, realise that we need to continue to learn and develop new skills, especially nowadays when technology is rapidly becoming a core part of educational life. The moment a teacher thinks that he no longer needs to learn is the time when he really should leave the profession. Because that complacency and arrogance will disadvantage the pupils immeasurably. This has nothing to do with age, by the way. There are teachers in their 30s who have this attitude, whilst there are others twice their age who are constantly looking to improve.
Teachers at Trinity all need to upskill themselves to prepare boys for life in a world where you will get nowhere unless you can think for yourself in a critical and creative way. Simply memorising facts is largely a waste of time nowadays. You can Google facts. It is what you do with those facts that matters. From an early age, children need to be encouraged to acquire higher order thinking skills, identified in Bloom’s Taxonomy. I am talking about the ability to analyse, evaluate, apply and create. Of course, Lower Order Thinking Skills (basic understanding and remembering) are still necessary; but they are nowhere near enough for success in today’s globalised and technology-driven world.
Unfortunately, the local curriculum (based on the 1950s British curriculum) may have been good once, but now does little more than encourage Lower Order Thinking. It is all about memory and comprehension, with little chance for application, analysis, evaluation and creativity.
Sri Lanka is trapped in the vice-like grip of the Tuition culture. I fully appreciate the pressure of A Levels and the difficulty of getting a place at University; so a certain amount of extra support for students in the higher grades is understandable and perhaps beneficial in some cases.
However (with respect, Sir), if I were Prime Minister for a day, the first thing that I would do is ban extra tuition for children under the age of 12. As you all know, children as young as 5 or 6 routinely spend hours each week at tuition classes; why their parents believe that this is a good idea defeats me. Education is a marathon, not a sprint. When children are at Junior or Middle School, I firmly believe that the time spent at tuition would be much better utilised playing games, reading, learning a musical instrument, being with friends or family… in other words, doing what children should be doing so that their intellect, creativity, curiosity and social skills are unlocked and nurtured.
In a world which is changing so rapidly, forcing children to learn by rote and focus on basic comprehension skills will simply not prepare them for life. That style of teaching and learning may have been acceptable in the past; but not in a future where most jobs that today’s children will end up doing have not even been invented yet.
Although I cannot unilaterally ban Tuition for younger children, I hope to make it unnecessary and change the culture that way. So we are no longer going to enter our boys for the Grade 5 Scholarship. It is a dreadful exam which promotes spoon-feeding and tuition; and actively penalises children for thinking for themselves. It also creates totally unnecessary and unhealthy pressure and stress, both for children and their parents. So I hope that without the spectre of the Grade 5 Scholarship, Trinity parents will quickly realise that they really have no need to send their children to extra Tuition; they can save their money… and their children can have a proper childhood.
I think you have heard enough from me for the time being. I will come back to the podium later to finish off my speech. However, it now gives me the greatest pleasure to invite the Chief Guest for today, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, to address us.
I am very grateful to the Honourable Kabir Hashim for agreeing to come to Prize Giving as Guest of Honour as well as to Mrs Kabir for giving out some of the prizes. In a few minutes we shall listen to a few words from Mr Hashim and I am personally much looking forward to that, Sir, as I have heard tell of your outstanding abilities as a Public Speaker.
Along with his two brothers, the Honourable Minister had almost all of his school education here at Trinity College though he moved to Royal College for his A Levels. He then attended the University of Peradeniya.
Mr Hashim is a consultant economist by profession. He first contested the General Election in 1994 and was elected as a Member of Parliament for the district of Kegalle.
During the 2001-2004 UNP administration Mr Hashim served as the Minister of Higher Education. In 2014 he was appointed the General-Secretary of the UNP, having previously served as the Chairman of the party. During the 100 Day Program, the Minister was handed the portfolios of the Ministry of Highways, Higher Education and Investment Promotion.
In the 2015 Parliamentary election, Kabir Hashim won the Kegalle District with over 110,000 votes. He currently serves as the Minister of Public Enterprise Development.
Academically, 2016 was a good year for Trinity, especially at O Level. I have listed a lot of names in the Report of boys who have done exceptionally well in their GCE O and A Level examinations. I will not read them all out individually, in order to save time, but they certainly deserve recognition and praise for their achievements.
254/258 boys who sat their O Levels in December 2015 qualified to do A Levels. This included an impressive 100% of Sinhala stream students, with Tamil and English medium getting 88.4% and 99.04% respectively. 17 boys in the Sinhala Medium and 11 in the English Medium obtained 9A’s. 19 Sinhala Medium, 1 Tamil Medium and 16 English Medium obtained 8A’s. So nearly 25% of all boys gained either 8 or 9 A Grades. In a school with non-selective entry, these are good results.
These are the 28 boys who gained 9 A Grades: HMKDB Herath, TMPST Tennakoon, JY Wijayananda, HMSP Dehigama, HM Dissanayake, KAYS Karawita, DH Ketipearachchi, AD Bandara, AGH Godage, DMUK Dasanayake, NPGHS Palliyaguru, SM Aluwihare, MA Haarpeen, GK Jayasinghe, DBM Ranasinghe, ESN Nanayakkara, HPML Mayadunne, PGR DB Gamlath, KL Jayasekera, VA Marasinghe, RVAAT Wijeratne, RP Gunawardena, BN Jayaratne, PGTC Mithrasena, TMDDB Tennakoon, SR Waidyatilleke, AMAU Attanayake, V H G Punchihewa.
The A-Level results were very respectable too, with the Commerce stream getting especially good results this year. Overall, 237students sat for the A Level examination with 138 students qualifying to apply for University entrance. T W M C S Seneviratne obtain 3As in Bio Science whilst GGMH Liyanage and RT Nanayakkara obtained 3As in Physical Science. RT Nanayakkara was placed 1st in the District and 14th in the Island.
Trinity is proud of all boys who did well in their academic studies, and we wish those who are now leaving College all the very best in their further studies and careers.
Co-curricular Activities and Societies
Trinity continues to have a huge number of Clubs and Societies, catering for children of all ages, abilities, faiths and interests. Once again, I am afraid that I cannot possibly mention all of them here today, as we would be here all night if I did. So I have tried to include as many of these activities as possible in the written report, but will just pick out a few highlights now.
Trinity is an Anglican Foundation, and we remain a proudly Christian School. However, we welcome boys and teachers from all religions. It is important that we teach all children to be tolerant and accepting of others, whatever their religion, culture and backgrounds. I am pleased that all four of our Religious Societies organised highly successful and well-attended events this year.
The Trinity College Literary Association had a good year in 2016. KASU Keragala and Shihan Maharoof were placed 2nd and 3rd in the Island, at the All Island English Day Competitions 2016. We debated with St Thomas’ and Ladies’ College. And there was an enjoyable and successful production of “Twelfth Night” performed both in Colombo and Kandy.
The Sinhala Literary Union organised many successful events including an Inter School Debate Competition, All Island Literary Competition and the annual Sinhala Day.
The Tamil Literary Union also had a successful year winning several places in Zonal and Provincial level competitions. They also organised the enjoyable “Muththamil Vizha” in Term 1.
The Trinity College Choir maintains very high standards, and received commendations from some renowned musicians. In 2016, as well as “Cross and Triumph of Christ” and “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols”, the Choir put on “Rhymes to Rhapsody”, a superb concert of sacred and secular music. A joint concert “Abendlied” was held with St. Joseph’s College and the year ended with a joint Carol Concert in Colombo with Elizabeth Moir School and Royal College.
The Western Music Society had a victorious and memorable 2016. The Primary, Junior and Senior choral Groups both became gold Medalists at the Provincial level and All Island winners at the National Level. The Junior Choral group won a special award for being the best choral group under 18. Instrumentally, our Pianists excelled too: Abhisheka Surendrakumar and Mark Senevirathne were awarded gold medals for the Piano Duet (Under 16). Lolonyo Soosapillai and Shevindra Herath became Gold Medalists at the Provincial level and All Island winners at the National level. They also received a Special Award for the best Piano Duet (Under 12). Harshith Karunarathne and Sathira Wijeythunga also won gold medals and became All Island winners at the National level. They were also awarded for the Best Duet (12years and over). Finally, Trinity College Kandy received a special award for the highest number of awards won by a school for choirs.
The Oriental Music Society: At the all Island Music & Drama competition organized by the Ministry of Education, B Wijesinghe was 1st in the Zonal (2nd in Provincial) Competition for solo flute. The OMS Anniversary Concert was one of the highlights of the school year for me and my wife. It was a truly memorable evening, brilliantly put together by the inspirational Mr Upul Edirisinghe who has been leading the Oriental Music Society at Trinity for 30 Years.
Kandyan Dancing and Drumming: Our celebrated National Drum and Dance Troupe of Trinity College continue to go from strength to strength, and have enthralled us all with their dynamism, creativity and professionalism on various occasions throughout the year including, memorably for me, at my Installation as well as at the opening ceremony of the CLC. During Term 3, they represented Sri Lanka with distinction in a major International Festival in South Korea.
The Interact Club had a very successful year in 2016. Following their own Installation Ceremony, they teamed up with Girls’ High School to help revive Interact Clubs at five Kandy school through organising a “Hill Country Installation”. The Club is in the process of helping underprivileged rural schools and Children’s Homes, through Project “Illuminate”. Ten Interactors were fortunate enough to participate in an international Youth conference “Act Asia” in Sikkim, India along with Teacher-in-Charge, Mrs Agra Ratnayake. TMPST Tennakoon was 2nd in the presentation competition.
Sri Lanka Unites: Also involved in Community Service, the Trinity College chapter of Sri Lanka Unites has been very active this past year in a number of projects. The chapter combined very successfully and enjoyably with Ladies’ College on “Stride to Ride” a sponsored walk in Colombo which raised funds for buying bicycles in order to help young people in disadvantaged areas; and they are also working with Elizabeth Moir School on a project to rebuild a school in Gampola.
The Heritage Society is one of the oldest societies at Trinity but had been largely inactive for some years. So I am delighted to say that 2016 was a very successful year for them. The trip to Sigiriya and the Heritage Day “Kuvera 2016” were the two main events for the year.
The Trinity Cadet Platoon was placed 4th at the “Battalion Assessment” Camp Sgt.Rathnayake RMTM became the Best Commander, Cpl.Wijeyabandara KMRH became the Best in Drill, and L/Cpl.Kulatunge LJB became the Best Athlete.
Scouting: It has been an outstanding year for the Scouts. They remain one of the most relevant, thriving and dynamic of all organisations at the school. Much of this is due to the inspiring leadership of Mr Ravindra Tammita and I wish him well as he joins the Signal Corps of the Sri Lankan Army; they are lucky to get him! Trinity once again hosted the biggest Hiking Adventure in Sri Lanka, “Journey through Nature ‘16” at Victoria with the participation of over 60 Schools. It was a superbly organised and conducted event. The Scouts’ Annual Camp was held in Galewela, the Annual Troop Hike was held at the Knuckles Range, and Trinity scouts became All Island Champions at Devion’s Challenge Trophy and Runners Up at the Sampath Ranawala Challenge Trophy. We also took part at the 9th National Jamboree held in Jaffna.
President Scout Award Winners: HMRP Jayasinghe, PMAS Dissanayakr, CS Ekanayake, MAV Gunawardane.
Best Explorer All Island Award Winners: HMRP Jayasinghe, DMAS Dissanayake, CS Ekanayake.
Indonesian National Jamboree: MMD Samaranayake, RAKE Gunatunga, RBD Wettewa.
There are so many more Societies in operation at Trinity, covering interests as diverse and valuable as Astronomy, Media, Commerce, Science, Design, Aviation, Global Link, ICT, Model United Nations and the Young Farmers. Boys regularly achieve outstanding results in all these areas, including at a National and International level.
Sport remains a very important part of Trinity life. There is a huge quantity and variety of sporting opportunities available for boys throughout the school. As with Clubs and Societies, I will include as much as I can in this Report, but apologise if I miss out something, such is the range and extent of sporting achievement at Trinity, both by teams and individuals.
I will start with Rugby, as most would say that it is the sport which enjoys most prominence at Trinity. It certainly creates the most passion, pressure, stress and excitement… and social media comment, not all of it fair or objective!
As was the case in 2015, 2016 will not go down in history as one of the 1st XV’s vintage seasons. However, it was by no means disastrous and frankly deserved much better. The results on paper simply do not reflect either the quality of the team or coaching; nor do they tell the whole story, as those of us who were there for every match witnessed firsthand. The team won the majority of their matches and tied the Bradby Shield for only the second time in the trophy’s 72 year history. This is not the time to go into detail about that or the various other occasions where we were poorly treated. Suffice it to say that I hope very much that we will be allowed to perform on a level playing field this year and that the officials will be able and willing to do their job with integrity and impartiality.
Other College Rugby teams, however, had very good seasons indeed, and the future of Rugby at Trinity is looking bright. Whatever happens, though, we must remember that as Trinity College, we are judged by the highest standards. And we must judge ourselves by those same standards. At all times, Trinitians must behave with decorum, dignity and honesty. Of course I want us to win our games, but not at any price. Though some might disagree with me, I would rather we lost whilst playing the right way, rather than won through cheating, dishonesty or foul play.
The 1st XI had a highly successful year 2016, becoming the Best All Island Team at the Observer Mobitel and Sunday Times Bata School Boy Cricketer awards. Captain Raveen Sayer was adjudged the All Island Best Captain. Three players completed 1000 runs and 2 players captured more than 100 wickets; so very unusually, five Lions were awarded as a result of the objective criteria. Five players represented the Country: S Shanmuganathan, Dilan Jayalath, Hasitha Boyagoda and Thisaru Dilshan and our outstanding fast bowler Lahiru Kumara. He, at the age of just 19, was selected for the Sri Lankan National Cricket Team, performing with distinction and huge potential both in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Speaking of which, I am sure that all Trinitians will have been very proud to see that, for the first time ever, three Old Boys (Niroshan Dickwella, Sachith Pathirana and Lahiru Kumara) are currently playing for Sri Lanka in the series against South Africa.
The current season features a very new and young team, with most of the senior players having left school. So it will be a time for rebuilding. Younger players in the school show great promise, though, and we have some exciting talent coming through. However, it may take a year or two to be reflected in 1st XI results.
Whilst thanking the coaches for their hard work, my particular thanks go to Mr. Bilal Fassy our most generous Cricket Sponsor, and to Mr.Nilantha Rathnayake, Amil Ramanadhan and the Cricket Foundation for all the support they give to raise the standards of Cricket at Trinity.
Trinity College Athletic Team emerged winners for the 22nd consecutive year with a 144 points lead over runners up at the Kandy Zonal Inter Schools Athletic Championship 2016; they became Champions in the U15, U17, U19, U21 age groups and also capturing the Relay Championship. Best Athletes of the meet – (U15) J. Thomas, (U.19) – P Harriprashanna.
At the Junior National Athletic Championship – 2016 S Ratwatte set a new meet record in boys U20 200 metres category clocking a time of 21.75 seconds and was 2nd in the 100 metres. He was selected to represent Sri Lanka at the 17th Asian Junior Athletic Championships held in Vietnam. SN Hettiarachchi was 2nd in U18 110 Metre Hurdles.
At the all Island School Relay Championship the U19 relay team clinched the Gold medal in the 4x800m Relay, The U15 team were 3rd overall and the U19 team were 2nd. We won a superb 28 medals in total including 12 Golds. And after 25 years, Trinity were once again overall winners at the All Island Relay Championship 2016.
At the Central Province Athletic Championship we were Runners Up, Winning the U15, U17, and the Relay Championship. SH Sirisoma (U15) was selected as the Best Athlete of the Meet. 33 participants were selected to participate at the All Island School Games 2016.
At the Sir John Tarbat Junior Athletic Championship RN Kumaragewas 1st in U18 110m hurdles, DMRB Badara was 3rd in U18 110m hurdles and the College Team emerged as overall Runners-up.
Last but not least, at the All Island School Games – 2016 DMRB Bandara was 3rd in U19 200m, RN Kumarage was 3rd in U19 110m hurdles and Trinity were 3rd in the Relay.
The following were awarded National School colours in 2016: Under 15 J Thomas-400M, Under 17 M N Diiviyan-400M Hurdles, C Hewage-Triple Jump, H Keerthirathne-Long Jump, C Perera-100M, J Rathnayake-200M, R M G K G Ratnayake-400M Hurdles., Under 19 D M R B Bandara 200M, M Dissanayake 100M, S N Hettiarachchi 110M Hurdles, R N Kumarage 110M Hurdles, D Dange High Jump, K Fernando 110 Hurdles, P Harriprashanna 400M, A U B Karalliyadda 800M, R Madena Shot Put, S Maralanda 100M, U N Mathew 400M, D W Premaratne Triple Jump, A Rathnayake 400M Hurdles. , Under 21 H H B Mahindarathne Shot Put, L M D Y T B T Pitawala Triple Jump, S Ratwatte 200M.
We had a very successful 2016. L H Gunaratne (U17) was 7th in the National Youth Chess Championship. He represented Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Games (9th place) and won a Board Prize in the 64 Squares Blitz Challenge.
D M Ketipearachchi (U17) was 11th in the National Youth Championship, whilst M Wedagedara (U17) obtained ELO Chess Ratings in the Kandy Open international tournament. The Trinity College U17 Chess team were 4th in National Schools’ Chess Championship.
At U15, A B Jayasundara won the Central Province Junior Masters Blitz Chess Championship, and was Merit winner at the Hill Country Youth Chess Championship; S C Dissanayake was 2nd in the Kandy Open Championship.
K Harikrishan (U13) emerged champion in the Kandy Open International Chess Festival and came 2nd in the Buddhi International championship. He was 3rd in the National Chess Championships, won a merit in the Master Mind Open Fide rating Chess Tournament (India) and was selected to play at the Would Youth chess Championship 2016 in Georgia.
The Hockey team had a good 2016. They won the Gold Star Championship at the Under 13 Sri Lanka Schools’ Boys’ Hockey carnival in Galle and became U15 group champion at the Kandy District Hockey Tournament. We were Runners-up at the annual Schools District Hockey tournament. Our teams performed with distinction at the annual Hockey Festival with St Peter’s and St Thomas’, and with credit in defeat in the Big Match against Royal College. K Jayasinghe, A Fernando and K Jayasinghe received Sri Lankan Colours.
Weight Lifting and Body Building both continue to be very popular and successful at Trinity. I would personally like to see, as much as possible, boys doing these sports combining them with others, especially Rugby. Speaking of which, B J Wijewickrema impressively won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, was also placed first at the All-Island School Games and is also a very promising member of the 1st XV Rugby squad.
School Sports Colours for 2016 were won by RN Kumarage, AM Rathnayake, N Mathew, AUB Karaliadda, SN Hettiarachchi, MJ Dissanayake, RSA Maralande, RD Bandara and Colours Re-Awarding PGDW Premaratne, P Hariprashanna (Athletics); DBM Ranasinghe, B Niyangoda, MK Bandara for Badminton; M Shalim, Anjana Jayaweera (Boxing); RKPMK Rajapakshe (Cadetting); T Dodanwela, S Gaminda, S Amarasinghe, T Dilshan, and Colours Re-Awarding H Boyagoda (Cricket); DT Ediriweera, RUB Herath, HMTDB Pitawela, BG Pethiyagoda, ND Jayalath (Football); MA Fernando, A Waleed and Colours Re-Awarding Kasun Jayasinghe, Kamesh Jayasinghe (Hockey); TS Abeywickrema, N Chang, LV Wijesuriya, D Dange, A Shiek, NTD Rajarathne and Colours Re-Awarding G Pethiyagoda, A Boyagoda, T Perera (Rugby); DC Dharmapriya, M Jayasinghe Colours Re-Awarding SMB Senanayake (Swimming); UASS Bandara, O Wijesundara, DS Peiris, A Manzil (Table Tennis); AHM Hamza and Colours Re-Awarding BJ Wijewickrema (Weight Lifting).
Lions were awarded to SDS Ratwatte for Athletics; NK Weerasinghe, S Shanmuganathan, D Jayalath, D Tillakaratne, L Kumara for Cricket; and R Karunathilake for Rugby.
With so much Sport taking place at Trinity there is no way I can mention everything here. So I have tried to highlight sports which have either had an especially good year or which involve a large number of people. There are so many others which take place at Trinity, always regularly and often with good results, including sports as diverse as Soccer, Badminton, Boxing, Gymnastics, Karate, Table Tennis, Tennis and even Baseball. However, at the risk of sounding negative, it has to be said that there are certain sports that, for one reason or another, seem to have fallen on hard times over the past years.
In some, like Basketball and Swimming, our standards and results have dropped significantly. I am very keen to do something about that. So I am putting in place strategies designed to bring improvements in these sports over the next 2-3 years. I am thankful to a number of Old Boys who are advising and supporting me in this.
Whilst thanking the Prefect of Games, the Director of Sport and all the Coaches and MICs for their efforts this year, it may interest you to know that I have introduced a Code of Conduct for all Sports’ Coaches at Trinity. I did this largely in response to concerns raised by members of the PTA as well as from my own observations.
The Code clearly details my expectations of the way coaches should conduct themselves in a wide range of areas, from language and dress to fair team selection and integrity. It is a privilege to coach sport at Trinity; and all our coaches must respect that by behaving with honesty and good sportsmanship; and demanding the same from all their players.
As I said last year, no school in the world will be good unless it has excellent and dedicated teachers. Tradition and history count for nothing if the quality of teaching is not good enough.
I am therefore very grateful to all those teachers who understand what an honour, privilege and responsibility it is to work here at Trinity College. Working here is not just another job. Teachers at Trinity are required to do much more than simply deliver the curriculum. They are expected to play an active and inspiring role in many different areas of school life. Only then will Trinitians develop the all-round skills and competencies that are needed for success in today’s world.
Many of the finest teachers here have been at the school for a very long time; yet they remain, because they appreciate how special it is to be part of the Trinity College community. They need to guide and mentor all the younger, newer teachers; so that they, too, will understand the responsibility that they have accepted by coming to the school. Although, theoretically, teachers are expected to retire at the age of 55, the vast majority of teachers over that age have been invited to stay on as teachers at Trinity. This is because they remain outstanding educators who are certainly not too old to guide and inspire young minds. The more I see of these people, the more I realise how fortunate Trinity is to have them.
I am very grateful to those teachers at Trinity who are happy to go the extra mile for their students; and who willingly contribute to school activities such as Sports and Societies in addition to their classroom work. I urge them to carry on with the same dedication and loyalty to Trinity. Those few teachers who are not like that need either to pull themselves together or look for another job. Trinity is too important and prestigious a school for people who are more interested in their Private Tuition Classes than in their ones at Trinity.
There are far too many outstanding teachers to mention them all by name; but I would like to express my thanks to the former Senior Librarian, Mrs Kuruwita, who proudly ran the Milton Senanayake Library for 20 years but has now chosen to retire. And thanks, too, to Vice Principal Thomas Jeganathan. In his short time at Trinity, he worked tirelessly and with great decency for the good of the boys. I wish him well as he returns to his family in Colombo and becomes Head of Linguistics at a tertiary Institute there. Incidentally, the Board of Governors is currently advertising for a new Vice Principal. He (or She) will hopefully be appointed in time to start in Term 2.
There is no great rush though, and it is more important that we get the right Vice Principal than that we fill the post quickly. I also have a very able team of senior staff around me who will ensure that we cope without a Vice Principal for as long as necessary.
In particular, I have Ananda Marasinghe, the Co Vice Principal, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of Trinity and passion for the school are exemplary. He is the most charming man, who always sees the best in everyone, and he has been a wonderful support to me personally this year. I would also like to publicly express my thanks to Nirosha Gunawardane (Finance Manager) and to Ravi Amarasekera (Head of Administration). They and their teams do an outstanding job behind the scenes.
However, far from getting the gratitude and support that they deserve, certain narrow-minded and petty people take every opportunity to attack and criticise. Once again, Social Media has a lot to answer for, as anybody who has the smallest grudge can post the most outrageous lies, either themselves or through proxies, seemingly without any accountability. Ravi, in particular, has been the subject of much of this and he simply does not deserve any of it. Not only does he work incredibly hard for the benefit of the school, but he is the most passionate Old Boy I’ve met; with a deep, abiding love for Trinity and its traditions and history. He simply could never do anything which might harm Trinity in any way. Nor would he let anyone else do so. Old Boys should be delighted that Ravi is now at the school. Those who are leading attacks on him are not people with Trinity’s best interests at heart.
I have created two new academic posts in the Upper School in order to help bring a little more focus to academic study, to ensure that teachers are more accountable, and to raise the aspirations of the boys.
Mr Ruwan Jayarathne, former Headmaster of the Upper School, has been given the job of Director of Studies, with responsibility for all teaching and learning in the A Level Sections. And Mr Shiran Sampath has become Master of the Scholars; it is his duty to keep a close eye on all those who have been awarded Scholarships and to ensure that they continue to excel. I am delighted that Ruwan and Shiran have accepted these two important positions and I know that they will both do an excellent job, thereby helping to raise academic standards here at Trinity.
Each year, it is customary that we bid farewell to the staff who have moved on from the school, whilst warmly welcoming those who have joined the Trinity family over the past year.
The following Teaching Staff joined Trinity College during 2016:
H M N S Egodawatta
A W M A I WeerasingheMenike
D M S M B Dhanasekara
B K A C M Rodrigo
W M L K Wijenayake
W K Adhihetty
Y M Hitinayake
The following Teaching Staff left Trinity College during 2016:
B D Jayasinghe
D H M R P Tammita
B V I M Dias
B M C K Basnayake
A H K W Dias
D M D S Dissanayake
K H Bandara
K G Dayarathna
W K Adhihetty
A P Navaratne
D M M B Dissanayake
L D Abeyrathna
M D S Fernando
S P Kuruwita
D K K D D Ekanayake
A I Tennakoon
J H Gnanapragasam
M A M Ifham
H W Joseph
R M N S A Rathnayake
R S Siva
K T Krishnamenan
M A D Senevitathns
A M C S Athauda
U R Wasanthi
R A S Ranasinghe
B G I M A S Ilanganthikake
M G Gunasekara
G G Nissanka
H G Sirisoma
G G Dhanapala
A G L Wijebandara
I thank all of the Leavers for what they have given to Trinity College, over many years in some cases. And I wish them all the very best for the future.
The longer I am at Trinity, the more I realise the importance and value of the Old Boys. Not quite all of them, it must be said, as there are a small number who unfortunately have selfish personal agendas. But I have found that the vast majority of Old Boys, both in Sri Lanka and overseas, are wonderfully supportive and helpful to the College and to me as Principal.
There is no way I can possibly mention all the old boys whom I have encountered this year. Instead, I am going to mention just a few who have made a particular impression on me this year. This will give you an idea of the varied ways in which Old Boys have helped Trinity and me in 2016.
Firstly, an individual. Mr Lionel Perera is, quite possibly, the oldest living Trinitian, who joined Trinity in 1928, only four years after the great Rev AG Fraser left. One of my great pleasures this year has been sitting and chatting with Lionel at Asgirya whilst watching the 1st XI play cricket. I have learned so much about Trinity from this wonderful man, who has also happily listened to my ideas and given wise advice… but only when I have asked for it!
Secondly, the four Old Boys of different ages and vintage, who selflessly agreed to be members of the Admissions’ Committee. Ajit Da Silva, Walter Perera, Nalin Wickramanayake and Rowendra Perera worked tirelessly, wisely and utterly fairly to help ensure that this very stressful and complex process was carried out with total honesty and integrity.
Thirdly, I would like to thank the Old Boys Associations of Melbourne and Sydney for inviting me out to Australia in November; for looking after me so well; for listening carefully as I spoke about my vision for the school; and for generously and enthusiastically pledging their support to Trinity.
I would also like to thank the members of Scrummage for their continued wholehearted and committed support of Rugby at the College, and for the huge amount of help and advice that they have given me this year. The Committees, under the Presidency of Rohan Abeykoon and now Dharshana Munasinghe, have been superb in every way and the College owes them so much.
Next, I would like to mention the members of the Old Trinitian Sports Club who have always made me and my wife feel so welcome when we have visited the clubhouse. In particular, I would like to say how much I have enjoyed getting to know both the last committee (and their redoubtable president, Nikko De Silva) and the current committee (being led in such a committed fashion by new President, Kumar Dias Desinghe). To have such a positive and supportive group of Old Boys to call on here in Kandy is a real bonus.
Last but certainly not least, I express my gratitude and admiration to the Batch of 1996, under the exceptional leadership of Suranga Herath, who have brilliantly converted the moribund Library into a thriving, modern educational resource.
By imaginatively incorporating a Creative Learning Centre within the old Milton Senanayake Library, the batch has ensured that, once again, the Library will be at the heart of Trinity life. The number of batch members who contributed was admirable, as was the turnout at the formal opening ceremony. Before that happened, at a special Assembly, the boys and staff were captivated by a brilliant and inspiring speech by one of Trinity’s most famous sons, Kumar Sangakkara, himself a member of the 1996 Batch.
As with the Old Boys, I have found that almost all the current parents have been extremely positive and supportive over this past year, and they have done a great deal to help me settle into my role as Principal of Trinity. And for my part, I know how important it is to listen to the views of current parents. I would far rather they contacted me directly than believe often inaccurate and sometimes malicious stories on Social Media or even the National Press.
PTA Exco meetings have been especially valuable for me this year, both because they have allowed me to communicate directly with parents of children of all ages and also because it has given parents a forum through which they can discuss things with me and the Senior Management. I am pleased to say that most Exco members are able to look at the bigger picture – ie what is best for the school – rather than simply use meetings to advance their own personal agenda – ie what is best for their son. Inevitably, the two are not always the same thing.
Thanks go to Manesh Jayasuriya (the hard-working Secretary of the PTA) and Romesh John (the excellent PTA Representative on the Board of Governors). Both keep in regular contact with me; and all three of us try to ensure that parental interests and concerns are dealt with in a timely, appropriate and effective manner.
The PTA Exco has recently shown excellent initiative and progressive thinking in a number of ways; in particular by arranging a superb Staff Training Programme for Senior and Middle Management teachers. It was an excellent occasion and one which will have directly benefited the teachers present and indirectly benefited all the boys at Trinity thanks to what their teachers learned. I am especially grateful to those parents who initiated and organised this event and I hope that they will do similar things in the future. It was a good example of how the PTA can work with the Management to benefit the school in a direct and positive way.
It perhaps took a while early on for parents to realise that I was happy for them to email me about anything that was concerning them and know that I would actually respond both personally and (if at all possible) straight away. And parents now know that they can always book an appointment with me. Indeed, my wonderful PA, Ashanthi, knows that if parents call her to make an appointment, she should fit them in to my diary as soon as possible.
I am told that, in the past, parents were often reluctant to speak to the Principal for fear that their son would somehow be penalised if they did so. I hope that nobody thinks that this is the case now. I can assure parents that I would never allow that to happen. I can only deal with a problem if I actually know about it. Bullies, for example, only thrive in a society where their victims are afraid to speak out. Once they are challenged and “outed”, they tend to show themselves for what they really are – weak-minded cowards. That is as true in a country as it is in a school.
There is much that needs to be done to restore the buildings of Trinity College to the state in which they should be. Many of the school buildings, ranging from Classrooms to Boarding facilities need urgent renovation to make them fit for purpose. I fear that this will be a long and expensive task; but one which needs to be done as a matter of urgency.
As the Principal or Trinity, I believe that one of my responsibilities is to act as responsible custodian of the school; and to put in place an extensive rolling programme of decoration, maintenance, restoration, and new building and infrastructure projects which will ensure that the school remains a leading Institution long after we have all departed.
This time last year, I said a similar thing. And a year on, we have started to make some progress. I am very grateful to our indefatigable Buildings & Facilities Manager, Old Boy Ifham Azwer, for all his help with this. Real and visible improvements have already been made in a number of areas of the school, including the Gaster Block (many thanks to Old Boy Afzal Marikar for his very generous contribution), the Valesca Reiman Block, both the Oriental and the Junior Music Rooms, the Teachers’ Resource Centre (thanks to the generosity of another Old Boy, Mohamed Muhsin), the Junior Boarders’ Common Room (thanks to the Batch of 2003), and, of course, the Library and CLC (thanks to the Batch of ’96). The new Chapel Washroom and Kitchen building, designed by Channa Daswatte, has also been built and opened.
Other projects are ongoing or about to start, including the renovation of the swimming pool and surrounding buildings, a major upgrade of the Quadrangle (including the proposed installation of floodlights), important improvements at Pallekelle Rugby Stadium, and the renovation of another Heritage Building, the old Science Block (thanks to the Batch of 1986).
In addition, large amounts of new classroom and boarding furniture are being purchased, and a comprehensive maintenance programme has been introduced to ensure that classrooms and other areas are regularly decorated and the grounds are neat and tidy. It is good to hear that many people have already noticed a difference.
So, as I say, a start has been made; but there is still a very long way to go. To use rather an un-Sri Lankan metaphor, we have only dealt with the tip of the iceberg.
Therefore, in the next two months or so, we shall officially be launching Trinity150. This is a major 5-year Development Plan, designed to restore Trinity to its former glory by the time of our 150th Birthday in 2022. It will include about 30 different projects.
There are three pillars to Trinity150… a Trinity of pillars, if you will…The first will focus on restoration and renovation projects (for example to rebuild Alison and Napier Houses so we can revitalise Boarding at Trinity). The second pillar will be new buildings (we badly need more Upper School classrooms, modern Science Laboratories and a multi-purpose sports hall, for example). And the third pillar will deal with Technology, so that Trinity can help lead the way in the new digital age in Sri Lanka.
I have already appointed an Old Boy, Chamira Athauda, to be Director of ICT. Chamira has an MSc in Computer Science from London University and will, I know, ensure that Trinity embraces Technology in a positive, dynamic way. I am also extremely grateful to others who have helped so much in this area, notably another Old Boy, Susitkar Enoch, who has worked tirelessly on a number of IT projects at Trinity, including the new website, the setting up of online admissions and payment facilities, and the upcoming introduction of a major new School Management System.
I hope very much that the outstanding fund-raising initiative by the Batch of ’96 will act as a model and incentive for others to do the same. Batches of Old Boys, current parents, Old Boy interest groups or individuals are encouraged to support Trinity by funding specific projects in Trinity150 which appeal to them and for which they can take joint responsibility with the College.
The ’96 Batch raised nearly Rs 10 million for the Creative Learning Centre. That shows what can be done. I am hoping that we can raise about Rs 300 million to fund specific projects over the next five years. That sounds like a huge amount of money; and it is. But when you consider that there are probably about 15,000 Trinitians alive today, including those at the school now, then if each of them donates just Rs4000 a year (or the equivalent of a small bottle of Coca Cola per week) for the next 5 years, that money will be raised.
Of course, in reality, I hope that those who can afford to do so will donate very much more than that. I really believe that this can be achieved, and without using school fees revenue or in any way compromising the education of those boys at the school now. And I guarantee that every rupee raised for Trinity150 will go towards Trinity150 and nothing else. I am in the process of inviting certain eminent Old Boys to act as Trustees of Trinity150, and I am also intending to appoint another Old Boy, with a strong financial pedigree, to be the full-time Project Manager for Trinity150.
Let me end this Report by saying how grateful I am to the Bishop of Colombo, Chairman of the Board of Governors, and all the other Governors both for their faith in me and also for the huge amount of work that they do for Trinity College despite their own busy lives. I am so fortunate to have the support and advice of such a professional and impressive Board of Governors.
Contrary to what some may believe, they do not tell me what to do, but are always there for me when I need their help. Finally, I would like to thank the Boys themselves for making each day at Trinity a special occasion. It is both a privilege and pleasure to be your Principal.