PMD: In a momentous event at the Royal College, Colombo, marking a century of educational excellence at Reid Avenue, President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered an inspiring address two days ago (27).
Acknowledging the inherent political differences in a multi-party democracy, President Wickremesinghe made a solemn call to all politicians and citizens alike. He urged them to set their sights on a new vision for the nation, emphasizing the need to build a new country, a fresh economy and a reinvigorated political system, united for the common good.
During his speech, the President also lauded the remarkable quality of education provided by Sri Lanka’s schools, with a special mention of institutions like Royal College. He stressed that the A-level curriculum in Sri Lanka is renowned for its rigor and its special emphasis on nurturing exceptional students, while maintaining a high standard of academic excellence.
President Wickremesinghe underscored the significance of the current moment, describing it as a turning point where the old order is facing a crisis. He firmly stated that returning to the ways of the past in economics, education and politics is not an option. Instead, he called for a collective effort to forge a new future for the nation, a country that aligns with the aspirations of its citizens.
The President’s words resonated with history, as he traced the journey of Royal College from its early days. He highlighted that Royal College, along with many other renowned institutions, has been instrumental in producing leaders and scholars who have contributed significantly to the development of Sri Lanka.
Royal College places a strong emphasis on character development, a fundamental expectation for all its members. The institution also commemorates its alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice in wars, with 380 from World War I and 83 from World War II.
“It’s worth noting that alumni Major General Fernando and Brigadier Jayatilaka serve as exemplary illustrations of unwavering commitment. They chose to hold their position at Elephant Pass, even in the face of orders to withdraw. Their sacrifice mirrors the resolute spirit ingrained in the Royal College ethos, characterized by the determination to confront adversity head-on.
Despite being instructed to retreat, they chose to remain, waiting for all others to depart, steadfastly guarding the rear. They didn’t falter; they held their ground. Tragically, both were shot and lost their lives. This unwavering sense of duty exemplifies the essence of what it means to be a Royalist, as highlighted by the President. Royalists don’t cut and run; they stand firm, resolute in their commitment. This unwavering spirit is precisely why the Prime Minister and I are here today.
As we honour this legacy, it’s crucial to focus on the future. What lies ahead for the institution, its vision, and how each individual can contribute to Sri Lanka’s future are paramount questions”.
As the President concluded his speech, he emphasized the importance of not only commemorating a century-old building but also celebrating the traditions, values and contributions that have been integral to Royal College. He urged the students and citizens to look toward the future, recognizing the evolving landscape of education and the changing world.
President Wickremesinghe hinted at forthcoming changes in education and urged a paradigm shift in the management of schools to meet the challenges of the modern world. He stressed the need for adapting to new technologies and sciences, especially in addressing pressing global issues like climate change.
The celebration of 100 years at Reid Avenue was not merely an event marking the passage of time; it was a call to embrace change, innovation and progress, resonating with the spirit of unity and forward-looking vision that President Wickremesinghe urged all to adopt.
In recognition of the President’s presence, Thilak Waththuhewa, the Principal of Royal College presented a commemorative memento to the President, with Head Prefect Baskaran Yuganan also in attendance. Additionally, a special book printed to commemorate this prestigious occasion was presented to the President by the two Editors of the book.
The event was graced by the presence of Prime Minister Mr. Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Education Susil Premajayath, State Minister of Finance Mr. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, as well as Parliamentarians Mr. Lakshman Kiriella, Mr. Gayantha Karunathilake, Mr. M. A. Sumanthiran, Mr. Rauff Hakeem, Mr. Eran Wickremeratne, Dr. Harsha De Silva, Mr. C. V. Wigneswaran, Mr. Yadamini Gunawardena and Dr. Kavinda Jayawardhana.