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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 75

Golden Jubillee Of Sri Jayawardanapura University

By Edward Theophilus Wanigasekera

University education in Sri Lanka began with the establishment of a university college (1921) in Colombo and later it was transformed to full university status as University of Ceylon in 1941 under the leadership of Sir Ivor Jennings, who was a political scientist and constitution expert, settling in a fascinating natural environment in Peradeniya. Before establishment of a university in Sri Lanka, colonial rulers founded a Medical College (1870) and a Law College (1874) in the country as the intellectual abilities of Sri Lankans were confined to cope with complex education and reflected that the country can be developed its own expertise human resources, which would need for all kind of development purposes.

However, the demand for high education could not be met by a single university in the country where the population was closed to 10 million and the education policy framework of the country for more than a decade since independence had been heavily concentrated on primary and secondary education rather than university education.

The establishment of Sri Jayawardanepura University in original name, Vidyodaya University of Ceylon was not just an event to appreciate the service of Buddhist education through temples but it was a beginning of radical changes in university education. In this instance we should not forget that the Act No 45 of 1958 presented to Parliament of Ceylon by Dr W.Dahanayake, the Minister of Education also established Vidyalankara University along with Vidyodaya University of Ceylon. At the beginning, Rev Welivitiye Soratha Theoro appointed as the vice Chancellor, who temporarily operated the university at Vidyodaya Piruvena in Maradana and later it was settled in a permanent place at current university ground in Gangodawila by former Minister of Education, Dr Badudeen Mohamod. Studentship of the university was limited to male students at inception of the university, perhaps, the education in Buddhist temples constraint to males, the High Education Act No 20 of 1966 allowed to admit female students to Vidyodaya University.

Sumangala HallSumangala Hall

Administrative and structural changes of internal education of Vidyodaya University began with the appointment of Professor Walpola Rahula Theoro, who was an academic of Sorbonne University of France as Vice Chancellor of the university. Professor Rahula attempted to attract foreign funds for the development of university and set a building and entrance of the university demonstrating academic proud and constructed Lady Margaret Robert dormitory for female students with Canadian aids. The main building of the University, Sumangala Hall reflects the largest Buddhist flag in the world. Since the beginning of university administration by Dr Walpola Rahula, many innovative ideas embarked to university education adapting degree structures of overseas universities and the best examples for new degrees are B.Ec(Hon), BSc (Management), B.Sc (Human Biology), B.Sc (Nursing, B.Sc (Phamacy), B.Sc Medical Laboratory.

The high education reforms introduced in 1972 after JVP insurrection, Vidyodaya University became a campus of the University of Sri Lanka in line with other universities of the country. The University of Sri Lanka designed cater for high education to the entire country converting all independent universities to campuses of one national university. However, this reforms did not exist for long times and innovative education reforms in late 1970srenaed Vidyodaya Campus as University of Sri Jayawardanepura echoing the nation’s capital in the university name.

Although the university successfully operated since its inception, JVP struggles in 1971 mainspring a serious setback as the ruling government converted the university in 1971 to detention centre of anti government JVP terrorists. The University reopened in 1972 and recommenced normal education activities. JVP terrorist committed crimes against university education and administration and such activities degraded the education quality of the university and attempted to holt monumental progress being achieved.Faculty Of Management StudiesFaculty Of Management Studies

Sri Jayawardanepura University has produced many parliamentarians, government ministers, top bankers, university educators in overseas, administrators, writers, scientists and professionals in various fields. There are several ministers in current government are graduates of Sri Jayawardanepura University and Current President of Sri Lanka, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa embarked employment as a clerk of USJ library.

The most notable event of university education in Sri Lanka was initiation of business education under the faculty of public and business administration at the Vidyodaya University of Ceylon. Professor Linus de Silva, who was an academic of Insurance field, was foundation dean of the faculty, which has been grown to offer world class MBA and postgraduate degrees in the first graduate school established in a university in Sri Lanka.

The faculty of public and business administration and the department of economics stated education in English medium but later they contributed to provide management, management, economics, commerce, estate management and valuation, Many graduates of business education in Sri Jayawardanepura university work as university lecturers, professors in foreign countries and business education in the university reformed and modernized from time to time adding new features to business education.

The second remarkable education initiation in Sri Jayawardanepura University was the beginning of nursing education medical sciences in Sri Lanka.

- Asian Tribune -

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