A student’s time is limited in school and in no time they will all be scattered around the country; pursuing their dreams and venturing into the ‘real world’. Although this may sound daunting, some are lucky to be surrounded by adults who have had these experiences themselves and who are able to guide the students in the correct path. Being at the helm of an educational institute where a student’s life is potentially changing is very rewarding but yet is no easy task. Former Royal College Principal Upali Gunasekara now heads Polymath College,Nawinna, Maharagama trying to do new things, expanding the horizon of each and every student that come under the shelter of this newest college in town.
What are your past experiences that you believe will assist you in bringing Polymath College to higher standard?
After completing secondary education at Ananda College, I entered the University of Peradeniya for higher studies. Having obtained a Chemistry Special Degree, I joined the University Tutorial Staff as an assistant lecturer for a short period. Then I was a member of the first batch of administrators in the Sri Lanka Education Administrat ive Service, selected by an open examination. It is worthy of mention that only a hundred and sixteen officers were selected from the whole country for this service. I underwent one year training at the National Institute of Education, Maharagama before being appointed as an Assistant Director of Education in the Matara district. Then I was appointed as an Assistant Director of Education at the Ministry of Education and served in the capacity for one year. I was hand-picked by the then Principal of D.S. Senanayake College, Mr. R.I.T. Alles to become a Deputy Principal of the College in 1990. Having served in this capacity for seven years, I was promoted as the Principal of Isipathana College. During my tenure, I maintained strict discipline and was able to improve the academic standards to an unprecedented level. Chess, as a game was improved, as did many other sports and games. Then I became the Principal of Royal College and served more than 12 years introducing new thinking, technology which ended with the College winning the Global Award as one of the most innovative schools in the world by Microsoft in 2009 along with many other international and national awards.
What is your vision for Polymath College?
The motto of polymath college is learn to live and vision is to create an international personality with Sri Lankan identity. We want children to uphold the Sri Lankan culture and its values. More than the subject matter children are taught to live. Under our wings they grow up to be sensitive human beings. Commencing with kindergarten and now opened up to advanced level, in Sinhala and English medium both local syllabus as well as Cambridge syllabus, we take every effort to make all students number smart, word smart and picture smart.Also my staff makes sure the students relax in the afternoon to grow up with a heal mindset.
Can you explain how children are united with nature at the College?
College took another bold step to train the children to shift their life styles from unhealthy instant food to consume what they grow in home gardens. You will find vegetables, fruits, greens grown all around the school premises. As the tiny plants grow into fruitful trees the children also grow with them learning to love nature. Then there is the Butterfly Garden where children learn to love every living being irrespective of size and colour. This is how Polymath College is geared in creating not merely an intellectual but a healthy nation.
What are the other facilities provided by college to the parents?
Polymath College also provides additional backing for parents by maintaining a ‘Day Care Centre’. They will take care of the children till 9 pm on all 365 days. That is a great relief for most of working parents as they know that the most precious being of their lives are in safe hands.
Why do you say that the students of the college relax in the afternoon?
The well qualified and dedicated staff of the College ensures that all students grasp their book work during the school hours. Thus seeking extra assistance after school which consumes students’ time of play and huge bulks of parents’ money is highly discouraged and is not needed. It offers the students of the college time for relaxation, reading or engaging in an extracurricular activity which makes them a complete human being.
Principal, Gunasekara being a skilled administrator in the field of education will prove beyond doubt his abilities in delivering the best for the students of Polymath College.