US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung (Fifth from left) during her visit to Jaffna College
- The alumni had organised many events like parades and a worship service to mark the 200th anniversary of Jaffna College
- Past pupils of the schools came to Sri Lanka from across the globe for a week-long celebration
In 1816, American missionaries founded the American Ceylon Mission (ACM) in Jaffna. The ACM established missions in other parts of the Jaffna peninsula too. As a result, on July 22, 1823, the Batticotta Seminary was established in Vaddukoddai to educate students on the peninsula. However, it was closed in 1855. The alumni of the Batticotta Seminary and other local Christians led a campaign to re-open the seminary and in 1872, Jaffna College was opened on the former seminary site as a successor to the Batticotta Seminary.
Since its inception, Jaffna College has been contributing immensely to the educational advancement, cultural development and economic growth of Jaffna. To this day, its journey remains a legacy for its role in producing eminent scholars, academics, doctors, engineers, lawyers, civil service administrators, business leaders, and two bishops,
Speaking to the Daily mirror Jaffna University’s Academic and Jaffna College Alumni Association Secretary Dr. Mahendran Thiruwarangan said that the Jaffna College had rare achievements in many ways. He said, “Although it is a private school, it has an endowment in the United States of America (US). Jaffna College receives funds for its expenses mainly from two sources. The trustees of the Jaffna College hold funds at Boston in the US. They send a certain portion of their income. The other portion of funds, although a small amount, comes from the fees paid by the students.
“In order to acknowledge the role of the American missionaries, the American Centre organised a leadership training programme for the senior school prefects on the 22nd and 23rd of August. At the end of the training certificates were given by Her Excellency the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Ms Julie Chung. The ambassador also planted a tree to signify the 200th anniversary. The students were able to interact with the ambassador after the event,” said Dr. Thiruwarangan.
Dr. Thiruwarangan noted that compared to many private schools in the country the funds that the students had to contribute to the college for their education was significantly low. “Jaffna College is affordable for the people in the locality. The College is located in a village,” Dr. Thiruwarangan noted.
He added, “The college also has a rich history. From early days onwards, the college has been committed to social justice and was even open for people from marginalised backgrounds. The college aimed at educating children coming from different communities. In the past, students from the southern part of the country and those who are from the Malaiyaha community joined and received education”.
He said the alumni had organised many events like parades and a worship service to mark the 200th anniversary.
The people in the area are from a low income group. The American missionaries set up this college to provide quality education to students who cannot afford to go to other private schools. The fee structure is very much lower than the other private schools in Jaffna,”
- Rushira Kulasingham Jaffna College Principal
Reminiscing the service the college has been rendering as an educational institution the US-based Ramachandran Kulasingam said, “Jaffna College has served the communities for 200 years and has offered a well-rounded education. Jaffna College is known for good English standards. I studied at Jaffna College from 1977-1990. Those were the hard years, the beginnings of the fighting and disturbances due to war,” said Kulasingam.
He noted uplifting everybody was a mission of the Jaffna College. He said students from all around the country came to study there. “Even the Sinhalese students were there at that time. During our time, the college and the near-by church identified the under-privileged students and provided them with education,” he added.
Jaffna College Principal Ms. Rushira Kulasingham said, “The people in the area are from a low income group. The American missionaries set up this college to provide quality education to students who cannot afford to go to other private schools. The fee structure is very much lower than the other private schools in Jaffna. Because of the many facilities the college has, students are able to engage not only in academics, but also in extra-curricular activities,” said Kulasingham.
She said that there had been many challenges during this 200-year journey. But she went on to say that the past pupils across the globe came together to have a weeklong celebration adding that they came from over 12 different countries.
Kulasingham said, “We have about 1100 students in the college comprising male and female students with 85 academic and non-academic staff members.” She said the college followed the local curriculum while providing bilingual education to the students.
As for prospects for the future of the college, she said that she would like to see more multi-ethnic and multi-religious group of students.
A week of celebrations
On its bicentennial celebration on July 22, the College alumni organised a series of events from July 15-22.The past pupils of the College also view these celebrations as an opportunity to envision the directions that the College ought to take in the future. A large number of alumnus across the world assembled at Vaddukoddai to take part in these weeklong celebrations.
As the inaugural event, an alumni walk and a vehicle parade were held on July 15. On July 16, a thanksgiving service was held at the Vaddukoddai Cathedral. The alumni spent the rest of the day on the famous Casuarina Beach in neighbouring Karainagar.
Every evening from July 17 to July 21, the alumni participated in a variety of sports events planned at the Brown and Bicknell Fields.
With the Annual Prize Day of Jaffna College on July 22, the Alumni Week came to an end. The organizers of the Alumni Week cordially invited the former and present administrators, teachers, employees and students of Jaffna College, parents, well-wishers and those with an interest in education to participate in these events.