Ananda College celebrates 135th anniversary

  • Appreciating A.P. Gunaratne, principal for 1987-1995

By Meghavarna Kumarasinghe

Ahangama Gamage Don Piyasena Gunaratne, popularly known among his colleagues as A.P. Gunaratne, was born on 18 April 1935. He was the eldest of a family of nine born to A.G. Don Pedrick Gunaratne, a businessman, and Ahangama Vithanage Somawathie.

Gunaratne started his primary education at Sripada College, Hatton, and was later enrolled at Dharmaraja College, Kandy. After completing his secondary education, he entered the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, reading economics, history, and Sinhala for a Bachelor of Arts degree. After reading for the degree in 1960, Gunaratne joined the staff of Maliyadeva College of Kurunegala as a teacher, the profession to which he would devote his life. In 1968, Gunaratne received an appointment as a lecturer at the Teachers College, Katukurunda, which was the beginning of his long career in education. 

In 1987, Gunaratne’s abilities, as a teacher of high calibre as well as a good administrator, were recognised by the Ministry of Education, and he was selected to succeed Colonel V.S. Kudaligama as the Principal of Ananda College. 

At Ananda, major school development programmes had taken place under Gunaratne’s leadership, including constructions, renovation, repairs, and restoration of old buildings at the college premises.

During Gunaratne’s era, the college prize giving was re-organised, and held annually in grand style. Also, college sports activities were bought under the newly organised “Sports Council”, which comprised the Prefect of Games, all masters-in-charge of games and sports, and college team captains. Ananda won numerous championships in athletics, cricket, cadetting, tennis, and swimming during this period. 

Another hallmark of Gunaratne’s period was the awarding of college colours to extraordinary sportsmen, and “Colours Night” was also started, an event that was one of the most popular annual events amongst students, teachers, parents, and old boys.

Gunaratne was behind the idea to form the Ananda College Past Teachers’ Association in 1992, and today, it is a well-organised and powerful association.