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  History of Ibbagamuwa Central College
   
  Ibbagamuwa ("elephant habitat") is a small hamlet 12 kilometers away from Kurunegala Town, in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. This had been a populous and cultivation-rich region from the period of King Prakramabahu the great, who was responsible for building many tanks in the dry zone for paddy cultivation. One of the King’s resourceful ministers, Badhalaththali built a huge tank near Ibbagamuwa, and declared the region as a cultivation area and settled down thousands of farmer families.

The tank was named after the minister, Badhalathliwapi, now known as Batalagda Wewa. The stone inscription standing near the spill on the tank bund narrates the account of the restoration of the tank by Queen Kalyanawathie (1202 – 1208 A.D.).

The people of the area, predominantly farmers, cultivated their lands with the help of the water supply from (Badhalaththaliwapi) Batalagoda Tank. There were rich landowners directly connected to the king’s court, who maintained the administration during that feudal era, and the farmers in the area toiled hard to produce a good harvest. Thus, Ibbagamuwa became the adjoining village of the Batalagoda Tank, where a very small hamlet was settled after the main roads were built in the 19th century.

This was the transition period, in which the country was trying to develop parallel to the modern standards of the western world. With that objective, contemporary western education system was introduced to Ceylon. To achieve the objective, the English rulers conducted high class and posh English Missionary schools in major towns to educate the children of the rich families, those who could afford very high school fees.

The poor children, however, were given an opportunity for a basic (free) education in Singhalese or Tamil medium in village schools. The result was that the English educated persons were absorbed into administration and other superior government or private sector employment, while the Singhalese and Tamil scholars were chosen as local leaders to serve at village level. At the beginning of the 20th century, Ibbagamuwa Government Singhalese Mixed School was one of those village centers for free education for the children of the area. It was located at Ibbagamuwa Junction, sandwiched between two roads.

The exact date of the commencement of this primary school was not revealed; nevertheless, the written records of the registers (Log books) are available from the year 1914. The first record available is about a report written by a school inspector.

Mr. C. W. W. Kannangara was the Minister of Education during the post war period. He was the first political leader who examined the possibilities of providing free English education to intelligent but poor children in the rural areas. This was a very bold and audacious initiative, for which many of his colleagues and contemporaries opposed and dismissed the idea as impossible. However, Mr. Kannnangara’s vision turned out to be a reality, and the scheme of Central Colleges was approved by the State Council. Mr. Kannangara, however, had to confront many obstacles before his vision was a reality. With his enthusiasm and ability, by 1941 he could establish the first ever Central School in the country.

In the successive years a total of 52 Central Schools were established in all parts of the country. The new Central College was really a conversion of an old village school into a high grade English education centre. Thus the Ibbagamuwa Government Singhalese Mixed School was selected as the site for one those Central Schools. Minister Colonel Sir John Kotalawala, the M. P. for Kurunegala was the brainchild of this idea, and supported the Minister of Education to establish the Central School in his electorate. It was on 3rd February 1941 Ibbagamuwa Central College was established.

The Log Book entry of the school reports this special event as:



In accordance with this significant note, Ibbagamuwa Central college should be the second Central College to be established after Matugama Central college, which was the first to be declared, situated in the Hon. Minister’s electorate itself. Elevated as Ibbagamuwa Central College, the village school functioned in its traditional style for the next two years, before it was really transformed into an English educational institution. The main reason was that there were no teachers for English medium education.

The Head Master of the Sinhala School, Mr. Welagedara, continued to be the head of the institution until replacement was made. The existing Mixed School functioned as usual in one part of the buildings, and the Central College on the other section of the same site. Generally, the Central Colleges admitted only pupils from grade 6 and upwards. These include those who were selected on the Government Scholarship Examination (known as Scholars), and also those who passed the selective entrance examination held by the Central College (day-scholars).

By the year 1942 Scholars were selected from various schools of the region and were admitted to the Central Colleges. The expected English education, however, was not fully introduced due to lack of teachers. Mr. C. W. W. Kannnangara advertised for posts of Principles of the newly established Central Colleges and the response was remarkable. There were many London B. A. Graduates anticipating the posts of Principal in these new establishments.

The minister personally interviewed and selected the new principal. A master from Saint Peters College Colombo, a London B. A. Graduate, Mr. P. M. Jayatilaka, was among the applicants. His educational and extra curricular activity record satisfied the minister and immediately appointed him as the principal of Ibbagamuwa Central College.

 
  Statue of Mr. P.M. Jayatilake
 
 
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