What began for Daya Rupasinghe as child’s play with siblings and her father’s Morris Minor is today a legacy as Sri Lanka’s first female driving instructor celebrates 50 years in her trade.
Starting off driver training at the second driving school in the country under the guidance of Lionel Jayasinghe, Daya obtained her licence in 1964. She then went on to become the school and Sri Lanka’s very first female driving instructor. Within a short period of two years, her skill and expertise enabled her to become the chief instructor at the school that taught her how to first get an engine revved up.
Having mastered the trade of driving instruction and with continuous encouragement from her growing number of pupils, Daya decided to venture out on her own and set up Daya Learners in Borella on September 16, 1966. Within another two short years, Daya Learners was moved to a larger space on Galle Road, Colombo 4, which 50 years on is still in operation.
In the year 1985, Daya accompanied by her first instructor travelled to London for the Driving Instructor’s Association World Conference held at the Wembley Stadium. Gaining insights into the globally recognized Hendon System of Driving Control, Daya returned to her home country to grow her business further. Not only does she have the accolade of being the first female driving instructor in Sri Lanka but Daya is also the first female to start a driving school in the country and the first female to obtain a motor-cycle and motor-coach licence.
Fifty years down the line, Daya Learners today operates out of three branches located in Battaramulla, Colombo 4 and Havelock Town. A panel of four male and three female instructors teaches over 150 students from varying backgrounds and skill levels per month. Using a dozen of the latest vehicles, the driving course incorporates three half hour sessions per week. Daya Learners is currently the only company in the business to teach any type of beginner despite age or skill level and bring them up to speed within five hours (10 days). It is also the only driving school to conduct classes in all three languages. The Hendon System of Driving Control, which is recognized the world over, is also thoroughly instilled in all pupils who also seek Daya’s expert advice for personal training sessions.
As the pioneering entrepreneur celebrates 50 years in an industry that most others have been apprehensive to get into, her company itself will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. Having passed on her knowledge and expertise, Daya Learners is now run by the second generation of the Rupasinghe family.