The arrival of American Theosophist, Col. Henry Steel Olcott and Madam Blavatsky in Galle on 17th May 1880 and the establishment of Buddhist Theosophical Society (BTS) is synonymous with the Buddhist revival in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Having read a copy of Panadura Vadaya (a debate held in Ceylon between Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera and French born Catholic Priest, Fr. Legok), Col. Olcott saw the sad plight of majority Buddhists due to suppression in the hands of Christian Missionaries and ruling Colonial Masters.
The establishment of Buddhist Theosophical Society was pioneered by patriots like Anagarika Dharmapala, Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera, Valisinghe Harischandra and Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera. Their primary task was to set up English schools for majority Buddhists who were not endowed with good English education. The fruits of the hard work done by those fearless Leaders was amply manifested when on 1st November 1886 an English Buddhist School was opened at No: 54, Maliban Street [a large House with 5 rooms], Pettah with only 37 students. Mr.C. W. Leadbeater was its Principal and the staff consisted of 7 teachers. The average attendance in the first 6 months was only 111, according to a report by Mr. W. Blair, Inspector of Schools. From No: 54, Maliban Street, Pettah, it was shifted to No: 19, Prince Street, Pettah in August, 1889, before Ananda found its permanent niche at Maradana in 1895. By this time the student population has risen to over 130. The Head Master and the Boarders resided in the upper floor. Mr. A. E. Bultjens, a graduate from the Cambridge University was in the staff. The formal registration in order to be identified as “The daily Buddhist English Academy“ was realized in March, 1889 and it coincided with the arrival of 2 new staff members, namely, Mr. Oliver James & Mr. Bath from Madras , india. History was created when young J. P. R. Weerasuriya Silva from this Academy was successful at the Cambridge Junior Examination. The site at Paranavadiya in Maradana, was bought for a sum of Rs.35,000/=, lent by the Buddhist Theosophical Society in India and that is where Ananda stands today. This loan was repaid from the proceeds of Golden Jubilee Celebrations held in 1936 during Principal, P. de. S Kularatne’s time, a period widely accepted as the Golden Era of Ananda.
Today Ananda caters to over 8000 students in 13 Grades of Secondary Education and boast of having produced a vast number of Island’s greats in Politics (Ananda account for all the Socialist Party Leaders of the pre-independence era), Science & Technologist (Many Scientists and Institutional Heads), Medicine & Engineering (Professors, Consultants, Institutional Heads), Cricket(including World cup winning Cricket Captain), Badminton, Swimming and other Sports, Cadetting & Scouting (including most of the brave security forces’ Heads who saved our land from LTTE terrorist menace in 2009), Business & Commerce, Law & Public Administration (Chief Justices, Supreme Court Judges, Public sector Institutional Heads), to mention a few., a feat hitherto unmatched by any other school.
Ananda College is the pride of the Nation. The journey travelled by Ananda College is as majestic as it is monumental. Ananda, having maintained its pristine glory for 124 years, is now inching towards celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2011. From its inception Ananda had a continuous struggle to meet the demand for more space and Buildings as patriotic parents of all races from all parts of the Island who knew what was best for their children and the country sought in ever increasing number to secure for their children an education at Ananda.
1890 saw the arrival of its Second Principal, Mr. A. E. Bultjens, a product of St. Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia. A Christian by birth, Mr. Bultjens has converted himself to Buddhism by conviction, taking the wrath of the Christian Clergy who were furious. Around 1892 Principal Bultjens had to decline admission of new boys for want of accommodation. On 18th of January, 1894, a Buddhist Philanthrophist, Mr.Tudor Rajapakse donated a land 3.4 Acres in extent in the adjoining area & on 17th August, 1895 the school was moved to this spot after spending Rs.8000/= on the construction of the school building and dormitories.
Sir D. B. Jayatilleke, the first Sinhala Buddhist to become Ananda’s Principal, assumed duties on 15th December, 1898. The first “Old Anandian Society“ which developed into its present day glory as Old Boys’ Association had its beginning during Sir D. B. Jayatilleke’s era and he functioned as its President.
During 1904-07 Principal Jayatilleke extended the school building by adding a Hall 100’ x 34’ to the original Hall [180’ x 34’].
With the departure of Sir D. B. Jayatilleke on 10th March, 1910, an Irishman, namely, Mr. M. U. Moore was appointed in his place on 15th April of the same year. During Mr. Moore’s tenure, a large number of constructions including the present Moore building took place. A small Upstair Building attached to the Old School Hall by the side of Paranvadiya Rd [now Ananda Mawatha] was put up by Principal Moore.
Mr. Fritz Kunz followed Mr. Moore by taking over the reins on 30th January, 1914. A lot of developments occurred during Princpal Kunz’s period, such as:
· Setting up of a Hostel in a Private House, named “Swarna“ in Campbell Place (in July, 1914)
· Initiation of Primary classes in 1915
· Setting up of Wilson Dias Commemoration Laboratory in 1916, using a donation of Rs.15,000/- by Mrs.Jermias Dias
· In 1916 the addition of Olcott Hall. The original Hall was converted to 8 open class rooms and the Second Wing to 5 class rooms
In 1918, Mr. P. de S. Kularatne assumed duties as Principal of Ananda and that was the beginning of a Golden era at Ananda and the school celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1936, under Principal Kularatne. With Mr. Kularatne’s perseverance, the University Curricular were adjusted to make room for Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit and Buddhism and that paved the way for many Anandians to enter Universities. It created the beginning of a new era at Ananda and henceforth Anandians started excelling in all fields including Medicine, Engineering, Arts, Science etc. Other important achievements during Kularatne era are;
- In 1918-Donation of a 4 Acre block of Crown land at Campbell Place for construction of Ground [now Nalanda Grounds, then a part of Ananda]. Later, Mr.Kularatne separated Nalanda Vidyalaya as a separate entity and sent Mr. L. H. Meththananda as its first Principal. This donation was made by the Governer, Sir Graham Thomas and he himself declared open the Ground in December, 1921
- Purchase of a 1.5 Acre Land from Mackwoods Ltd for Rs.60,000/-
- Creation of the first cadet Team in 1920
- Creation of the Science Section
- Construction of Dutugemunu Bldg from the proceeds of Stage Play “Dutugemunu“. It consisted of 7 open class rooms and the cost of construction was Rs. 4,000/-
- Construction of Hostel Building and it’s opening in August, 1922
- Construction of Harischandra Memorial Building in 1920. The Trustees of Harischandra Fund contributed Rs. 4,000/- and a further Rs. 20,000/- was raised by the College.
- In 1936 the Golden Jubilee Carnival Celebrations were held. The debt on account of Land purchased from Mackwoods was repaid to BTS, Iyadar, India from the proceeds of the Carnival
- The workshop was started in a temporary Building and Handicraft was made an alternate subject to Latin
In 1945 Mr. A. B. Perera, a Barrister of law, joined Ananda as its Head. Another 2 Acres of land was bought for the school during his period. During this period the Library and the records were destroyed by a Fire.
In 1948, with the arrival of Mr. L. H. Meththnanda, an atmosphere for the revival of Sinhala Buddhists was building up bringing in another phase of resurgence at Ananda, though hated by the Catholic Church. The following events took place during Mr. Meththnanda’s period;
- Setting up of a Teacher’s Co-operation Society “
- Initiation of the setting up of a Laboratory. The Foundation was laid on 2nd March, 1950 and Lab was declared open on 23rdJanuary , 1953 by Hon. Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake
- Publication of “Udhawa” magazine
- Two brothers H. P & C. P Jayasuriya were groomed to participate at Olympic games
- In1946-Diamond Jubillee Carnival was held and it was declared open by Hon. Prime Minister, Dudley Senanayake. The net proceeds amounted to Rs.77,221.88. The debt to Mackwoods was paid off in full.
- In 1950- Created Ananda Trust
- In 1951- a workshop was constructed by the Parent- teachers’ Association at a cost of Rs. 12,000/-.
In 1955, Mr. S. A. Wijayatilleke joined Ananda as its Principal. The achievements noteworthy of mentioning are;
- Construction of Olcott commemoration Building
- Construction of C. W. Leadbeater Commemoration Building
- Ananda became a government School in 1961
- In1959- a Fair & Exhibition organized by OBA/PTA to Celebrate the 80th Anniversary of Ananda.
In 1962, with the arrival of Mr. M. W. Karunananda, as Principal of Ananda more emphasis was placed on increasing the educational standards of the School. It was he who pioneered the teaching of Science in Sinhala. Ananda made a big stride in improving results at Public examinations.
During the era of Principal, E. A. Perusinghe (1964-69) Ananda was able to achieve a long felt need of completing the construction of Budu Medura.
The following Developments took place during Principal, Col. G. W. Rajapakse’s period (4th May 1969 to 1989);
- Setting up of Police Cadets Corp on 10/09/1972
- Completion of School’s Cricket grounds
- Finishing the work on Kularatne Hall face lift
The brief spell of uncertainty that followed with the departure of Col. G. W. Rajapakse vanished with the arrival of Col. V. S. Kudaligama as Principal of Ananda on 11th January, 1982. It was during Col. Kudaligama’s period the first Colours Night was held in school. The Centenary Celebrations was held in grand scale and with the support of OBA, parents and well-wishers the following improvements were achieved;
- Holding of Ananda 99 Carnival
- Formation of students’ Counseling Squad
- Construction of Centenary Building
- Resumption of Primary School Education and the construction of Primary School Building
Mr. A. P. Gunaratne succeeded Mr.Kudaligama (1989-1995) and was instrumental in making the following useful changes;
- Renovation of Biology and Maths Units
- Construction of a new Caffeteria
- Construction of the Swimming Pool(a Project Jointly undertaken by OBA/OASC, spearheaded By Dr.H.S.Perera)
During the tenure of Principal, Mr. T. B. Damunupola (1995-2001) a lot of Buildings were re-named after past Principals. The important achievements during his period are;
- Completion of 25Meter Kids’ Pool
- Setting up of a Students’ Savings Bank
Some mixed sentiments were observed during Principal Abeyratne’s period (2001 to 2007). Controversies surfaced in the school’s administration during the latter half of Mr.Abeyratne’s tenure and that spilled over to the subsequent period when Acting Principal, Mr. Lal Dissanayake (2008-09) was holding office. However, he managed to bring in some stability in the short term. It was commendable the way staff co-operated with the OBA & SDS to organize the “Anada Viru Harasara” (Ranaviru Upahara) in grand scale to pay tribute to Old Anandian brave soldiers who spearheaded the war to eliminate LTTE terror from our motherland.
In the second half of 2009, OBA & SDS spared no time in searching for the right person to take over the reins from Acting Principal, Mr. Lal Dissanayake. On 4th November, 2009, Mr.L. M. D. Dharmasena, a Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Education opted to take up the challenge.