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Sunday, 3 February 2013

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Principal upholds noble profession



Ranatunga being accorded a warm welcome.

Another department that has come under the scrutiny and wrath of the public is the Education Department due to the bureaucratic bungling and corruption of officials, sources say. It is a fallacy to say the actions of most school principals, headmasters and teachers are tainted with corruption. There are a few schoolmasters even today, as in the past, who uphold the dignity and traditions of the noble profession.

The"Sunday Observer" correspondent in Dewahuwa was able to meet such a school principal who refused to accept Rs. 60,000 as a token of appreciation from villagers and well-wishers for the yeoman service he rendered to the school on his retirement. The retired Principal is U.P. Ranatunga of the Junior School at Pattiwela under the Zonal Eduction Office Galewela. He served as Principal continuously for 15 years and his untiring efforts made Pattiwela Junior school as the most popular junior school in the area.

Ranatunga came to know that villagers had collected a sum of Rs. 60,000 to be given to him as a gift at his farewell ceremony. He met the organisers and told them politely that he does not need money and to utilise it for some other worthy cause for the school. "It is the greatest honour that you can bestow on me." he told the organisers.


Principal Ranatunga unveiling the flight of steps.

He indicated to the organisers that he would have a peace of mind in retirement if his wish was fulfilled. He said his wish was to see that a flight of steps leading up to the main school hall was built with a fence to prevent children slipping and falling while entering the building. Taking into consideration the principal's request, the committee members and villagers of Pattiwela built a flight of steps along with a fence on either side leading to the main school building. There were 35 steps built by volunteers in the village. The actual cost of the project is estimated to be more than Rs. one lakh, a villager said. Ranatunga commenced his teaching career in 1974 when he received an appointment in the State sector.

He was appointed as a Principal Grade I in 1994 and served in many schools in the area before assuming duties as principal of Pattiwela Junior School in 1998. The school lacked many facilities when he assumed duties but he was able to gradually improve conditions with assistance from Non-Governmental Organisations. He received assistance from the Netherlands to provide water and electricity to the school. With German aid he provided chairs, cupboards and other equipment and also provided a free meal to the schoolchildren. Ranatunga was transparent in his financial dealings and did not leave room for any queries. Although the Pattiwela primary school is situated on a gravel hilltop it was gradually turned into a garden with many trees that provide shade to the schoolchildren, during the past 15 years. On the day of his retirement Ranatunga was accorded a rousing welcome when he unveiled the flight of steps at a ceremony last week.

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