A Brief History of the Central Colleges Past Pupils’ Association of Sri Lanka

A group of past pupils of Central Schools established by Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara under his “Free Education Scheme” got together in 1960 to form the Central Schools’ Past Pupils’ Association. The first meeting of the Association was held on 21st February 1960 at the Mahabodhi Vidyalaya, Colombo – 10, under the patronage of Mr. Savimon Urugodawatta, who was on the staff of Mahabodhi College at the time., Mr Somapala Gunadheera (the first Central School student to enter the Ceylon Civil Service) was elected the President of the Association. He was a student of the Galahitiyawa Central School from 1944 to 1949. The Secretary was Mr. Bertie Galahitiyawa (a past pupil of Talatuoya and Nugawela Central Schools) and Mr. Manatunga Bokolawela (of the Tholangamuwa Central School) functioned as the Treasurer.

The first Annual General Meeting of the Association was held in 1961 at the main hall of the Royal College, Colombo with Dr. Kannangara as the Chief Guest. He was very happy that his vision in establishing the Central Schools under his Free Education Scheme had become a reality. Rural students were gaining high positions in many professions in large numbers and contributing to the country’s progress in a very positive manner.

In order to raise funds required for the activities of the Association, Satyajith Ray’s Bengali film “ Pathar Panchli ” was screened at the Sapphire Theatre in September, 1961. In 1962, the Association organized and conducted a Short Story Competition among the Central School students. Their entries were compiled in a publication titled “Aluth Paalama”. Two of our leading short story writers, namely, Jayakody Seneviratne (Tissa Central) and Somaweera Senanayaka (Ruwanwella Central) emerged from this competition. During the same year, two plays were staged at the Royal College hall. They were “Rattaran Putha” and “Heiyyan Maruwa “ written by Mr. Somapala Gunadheera.

Many of the past pupils of the Central Colleges were rallying round their Alma Maters, forming Past Pupils’ Associations and contributing to the improvement and development of Central Schools. The membership of the Association also increased gradually.

In 1963, the members of the Association went on their first ‘trip’ to Sigiriya. Dr. (Pundit) W.D.Ameradeva and Mahagamasekara joined the members on this trip. It was on this Sigiriya Trip that Mahagamasekera composed the song which was composed then there and sung by Pandit Amaradeva.

The annual general meeting this year was also held at the Royal College Hall
in Colombo. The activities of the Association suffered a set back during and after the civil disturbances in 1971 and it was inactive for a few years.
Some of the leading members of the Association, led by Mr. Vipula Dharmawardhana, revived its activities of the Association in 1992. The Inaugural Meeting of the newly formed Association was held on 12 th January, 1992 at the auditorium of Sausiripaya at Wijerama mawatha, Colobo – 7. Prof. Ariyapala Ekanayake (Walala Central) was elected President. Mr. P.B. Wanninayake (Anuradhapura Central) functioned as the secretary and Mr. M.C.Mathupala (Galahitiyawa Central) was the Treasurer. Mr. Vipula Dharmawardhana was elected Organizer. The occasion was graced by the presence of Pandit W.D. Amaradeva, dancing maestro Pani bharatha, reputed writer and journalist Gunadasa Liyanage and Prof. Alawattagoda Pemadasa, Professor of Botany at the Ruhuna University. Constitution of the Association, initially drafted by Mr. Savimon Urugodawatta was unanimously adopted.

Since then the Association came a long way introducing new projects, gathering more and more Central School Past Pupils and now it is a strong organization in the country, in the sphere of Education. The Constitution was amended a couple of times to suit to the changed objectives The name is also changed as Central Colleges Past Pupils’ Association of Sri Lanka, which is now under the process of incorporation as a ‘Statutory Organization’ in the Parliament.

The present National Executive Committee of CCPPASL comprise of two bodies, namely, the Executive Committee, consisting members who hold main positions and all past presidents. The other large body of the Association is the National Executive Committee, consisting of a group of 30 members, annually elected representing, as far as possible, all 54 Pioneer Central Schools established by Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara,. The full National Executive Committee, normally assembles monthly and comprises of 65 members.