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Cyril Arnold Janz - Founder Of St.John's



The worth of a school can be measured in regard not only to the quality of the education imparted and success at examinations but more importantly to the high moral quality of its students and the contributions. They have made to the country. In this regard St’ john’s has an exemplary record. It has given to Sri Lanka thousands of worthy citizens, people in high office who have distinguished themselves in various spheres of life.

Cyril Arnold Jansz the founder principal of St. John’s college Panadura. In July 1880 he was at Kalutara as an assistant teacher and soon as head master of St. John’s College.

Within a short time the numbers in the school rose on 82, when he took over, to 150. The loyal corporation of the staff and the steady increase in the number of pupils gave Mr. Jansz a sense of security. Accordingly a year after he had arrived in Panadura he married Miss. Amelia jansz of Galle. While the boys’ school is making head way she started a class for girls. This class started in 1885, was the beginning of the girls’ school. When these classes grew in numbers this school was accommodated in temporary buildings.

Most of the work in the top classes of both schools was taken by Mr. Jansz the preparation of students for the Cambridge examinations involved the holding of extra classes after school. Both boys and girls were taught together in these classes.

The excellent discipline and the careful supervision maintained brought a unique feature of co-education while the two schools, the boys’ school and the girls’ school work in separate buildings as two entities; St. john’s college was started in 1903 for boys and girls.

Achievements in the fields of examinations when Mr. Edmund Rodrigo capped his brilliant performances in the Cambridge examinations by winning the much coveted Inter-mediate Arts Scholarships St. john’s was the first outstation School to win this Scholarship Rodrigo proceeded to England.

In England at the Civil service examination Edmund Rodrigo won the rare distinction of being the first non-white man to do so well that he was offered a place in the Indian Civil service. Both these offers he declined in order to join the Ceylon Civil service where he rose to be the first Ceylonese Government agent.

With the rapid advance in the fields of examinations Mr.Jansz saw to it that sport was not neglected. In his scheme of things he did not wish to impart a lop-sided education.

As a school boy of 18 M.V.De silva was awarded the T.Y.wright cup Obeysekera cup for best boxer and winner of the national bantam weight title Dixon Kotalawela at the age of ten was the winner of the Francis Jayawardana challeng cup.He won the fly weight title in 1939 and the feather weight in 1940,while K.Edvin was the bantam weight champion of ceylon and winner of the Layton cup in 1942.he was also silver medalist of the Empire games in 1950.

Among the athletes too, there were two notable performances when Upali Gunarathna established a national record for the 100 yds in 1938 and Chandra Senanayaka became holder of the national record for discuss and putt shot. Apart from sports music and singing were though both In the schools and through the dramatic clubs one at place were often staged at the end of term contests.

Though the school could not boast of a big playing field cricket and football became popular games. Cadeting boxing scouting hockey and acquatics were introduced.

St Johns has produced more ambassadors than any others educational institution in the island whom were Dr.M.V.P.Pieris, Dr.G.P.Malalasekara ,Sir.Susantha De Fonseka, Messrs.Thilak E.Gunasekara B.F.Perera and A.F.Wigemanna.

These are but a few of the thousands that went through the hand of the master.

School Anthem



Nihil Amanti Difficille
Is our motto bold

The green-silver-green
Our noble flag
Proudly we unfold //

Our Alma mater well beloved
To thee we bring this song
All thy children far and near
To honour thee we throng

Nihil Amanti Difficille
Is our motto bold
The green-silver-green
Our noble flag
Proudly we unfold

On bended knee we bow to thee
Johnians since of your
May the rampant eagle
Fly for ever more //


.................................................
A.S.B.Rathnayaka



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School Profile

St John’s College is a prominent school in Panadura, Sri Lanka, that was founded in 1876. The school has a proud history of more than 100 years and celebrated the 125th anniversary during the year 2000. Even though there were only few girls and boys at the beginning, the number has increased up to 2000 and there are 100 teachers too. With its vast development, it is now one of the National schools in Panadura.

Dr.Punchi Bandara Sannasgala

Sannas Mudiyanselage Punchi Bandara alias Punchi Bandara Sannasgala born in Ambagasdowe – Gedera , Ambewela at the foot of pattipola range at Udukinda in the history Uva Peen clssifild as a clear-cut cross-section of unmolested Sinhala Culture yet extant in the backwoods of Uva highlands , at the turn of the 19th century.

National independence is the final result of individual indepence , the birth of which is based on economic stability and the pride derived from clear knowledge of the national history and inspiration of culture. In order to overcome the family financial stringencies Punchi Bandara helped his parents to develop their hereditary land with a little paddy more vegetables and a smalholding of tea.

His upbringing and education was delayed as a result but under the advice and tutelegage of Madowita Sri Gunanda Maha Thera , close grand-parent of his father S.M. Ukka Bandara, he was admitted to Haputalagama vernacular mixed scool at Kudurugamuwa (the present SriJanananda Maha Vidyalaya)

He was a student in that school until 1928 when he passed the fifth standard. Thevillage temple and the vernacular school poorly provided the basic knowledge of A, B, C where from Punchi Bandara could hardly quench his thirst for wider knowledge. Turbulent times were over,even though the economic depression was still depressing in 1931 when his first tutor Madowita Sri Gunanda introduced him to the head of Pravachandodaya Pirivena in Molligoda,Wadduwa.

There he commence in depth studies in sinhala,Pali and Sanskrit and other subject relevant to make a pandit in oriental studies,under Labugama Lankananda Mahatera (under the late Maha Nayaka Thera of the Kotte chapter of the siam Maha Nikaya). In seven years of hard work Punchi Bandara Completed oriental Studies,in 1938.

Immediately afterwards he joined St .John’s College ,Panadura ,the alma master of great of great English Scholars like Dr.Colvin R.de Silva ,Peter Abeyesekara and many others. Peter Abeysekera was full of praise for hero’s photographic memory of everything what he learned .Punchi Bandara left St. John’s College to join the Colombo University.He obtained his first degree there in 1949.

By this time he had already started to earn and learn by be self-emancipated,and did not want to pass the burden of support for him to his parents.Having commenced writing regulary to Dinamina & Silumina as well as other periodicals he earned a living while earning a name and fame for himself.His writing on literature, religion,aesthetic arts grammar and language was a regular feature in classical Supplement of the Silumina.

In October 1954 he obtained the Master’s Degree and did not stop at that.His aim for post-graduated studies achieved success when he received the Doctorate of Philosopy at the Convocation held I Peredeniya on November 4th ,1960.

By this period he was married to Nalini Rathnayaka eldest daughter of A.Ratnayaka member of the first Parliament minister of home affairs and later the president of the Senate a prominent Buddhist and student of sinhala culture who correctly evaluated Punchi Bandara Sannasgala as his first son in-Law.The then government of Ceylon in 1954 set up the Lanka Bauddha Mandalaya to make suitable arrangements to celebrate the 2500th Buddha Jayanthiya.

In order to ensure lasting results of the Buddha jayahthi the government provided funds and set –up several uddsub-committee to foster Tripitaka translation into sinhala,sinhala Encyclopedia ,Buddist Encyclopaedia,Buddhist literature Restoraion of the Sri Dalada Maligawa etc.

Professor D.E.Hettiarachchi who was appointed to head the sinhala Encyclopaedia Sub-Committee hand-picked is erstwhile pupil Sannasgala served on Bhuddist literature and Sri Dalada Maligawa sub-committees as well.The new ministry of cultural affairs in the S.W.R.D Bandaranayaka government was set up in April 1956,and the Home Ministry,was given pride of place.Department of Cultural Affairs grouped under the new ministry sponsored the promotion of literature,arts,religion and other allied subjects,Sannasgala was a live-wire of the oriental studies circle, a founder member of the Sinhala Writers’ Organisation of which he was a vice president and later joint secretary for many years,up to the end of his life.But his forte was the Sinhala Dicctionary , where he made his mark.

Vidyodaya and Vidyalankara Pirivana were re-fashioned as Universities in the early sixties and Dr.Sannasgala was selected as Professor in sinhala at Vidyalankara University.

However his rightful place was in the Sinhala Dictianory Office grouped under the ministry of Cultural Affairs Which came under severe criticism for its lethargic and dormant progress.During the second Sirimavo Bandaranayaka regime in 1975 the Minister of Cultural Affairs, T.B.Tennakoon entrusted Sannasgala with the reins of the Sinhala Dictionary office.Soon afterwards he was selected by the Netherlands government of a two year fellowship in Lexicography in the University of Amsterdam. This followed a British Council Fellowship to the University of London and Oxford. On a second round he was awarded the Cordell Fellowship to proceed with in depth studies in Lexicgraphy in Indian University in1984. The Asia foundation also financially assisted him to carry out research studies in three different University in USA and later in Germany and in Britian.

He proceeded to Germany in 1987 and Leydon University where rare manuscripts pertaining to oriental studies are deposited. His intention was not only to enjoy a trip but most sincerely to devote himself to enrich his knowledge in this vast scientific field of study. On his return home he translated the knowledge he acquired in to action and accelerated the work of the sinhala dictionary.

Dr.Sannasgala has explained in one of his reports at the joint of time he undertook work in the sinhala dictionary the dictionary was stagnating at 702 words explained in 905 pages in print the work which commenced in 1927. Since the date of assuming work as head of the sinhala dictionary office up to Desember 15,1988,he succeeded in publishing 116,600 words in a total of 6595 pages bound into several volume.

In 1991 Dr.Sannnasgala organized a week long symposium on lexicography and dictionary making in order to celebrate three decades of his selfless service on this subject.

For this purpose several outstanding Professors form Amsterdam, England , USA, Burma and India participated and apprized the work done to put the sinhala dictionary on a sound scientific footing the observations made by those research scholars have been reduced to writing and are available on records in the dictionary office.

The singular service to’ make the Sinhala dictionary’ as factual observation made by professors who participated at that seminars reveal that punchi Bandara sannasgala’s name has been immotalised in the cultural history of Sri lanka even if he did not extend his services in literary research.

Sannasgala sadu chriyawa[1947] Sihala sandesa sahithyaya (1949)kav silimina Sahitya(1949), Kavyasekaraya(1953), Sanga Sarana(1954), Dalada Pujavilliya(1954), Sadharmalankaraya ; Soragunu devala puwatha [1973] Sinhalese vocable of dutch origin wich appendices of Portuguese and malay/Javanese borowins [1976] Sinhala supa kalasastharaya [ 1989] are few of famaous books published by sannasgala :but his Sinhala Sahitya Vamsaya , first published by Lake House in 1961, running to 816 printed pages is his masterpiece.

His guru Professor Hettirarachchi in his forward to the first edition of this colossal work, written on Octomber 12 , 1961 , has made a valuable introduction tro the book.In his second edition Sannansagala,extended the literary and political history of Sri Lanka up to the Years 1995,having increased the number of print pages to nearly 1200and the printing was completed at the government press. However, a Controversy erupted on the usage of certain facts which debarred the release of this second edition until those sections were expunged from the book.

Even though he did not have other books publish after 1955, he did not give up his habit of writing a few pages in some subject each day. During his last days he employed a typist to work in his room in the process of writing.

"Dr.Punchi Bandara Sannasgala is the ivory towry of learning produced by Pravachanodaya Pirivena of Moligoda. This is the pith and substance of my funeral oration for and on behalf of ven. Pandit Labugama lankananda Maha nayaka Thera”. Those wre the conclidng words of the principal of that Pirivena, at his funeral on March 24,1997 amidst a vast gathering of the literail, who assembled thither to pay their last respects to a great son of Sri kanka.

Mr.Gaurie Wickramasinghe

Mr.Gaurie Wickramasinghe who was born on 11th June 1925 passed away after a brief illness on 10th march 1999. His entire school career was at St.johns College – Panadura. He was at sportsman of high caliber participating in Hockey; Tennis and Athletic was is forte. He participated in the inter School Athletic Meets from the age of 14 years and won many a trophy. In the late forties and fifties he was the quarter mile Champion and due to lack of facilities in his home town he joined the ACE Athletic Club of Colombo and was one of the Star Athletic for a period of about eight years. He also represented Panadura Eagles Sports Club in Hockey and Football. Among the many outstanding sportsmen produced by St.Johns College, Mr.Gaurie Wickramasinghe finds a very prominate place. For many years he was aCommittee Member and Treasurer of the Association of Old Johnians. Among His other talents, he was a Ballroom dancer par excellence. He took a keen and active interest in the Social Activities of the Town.

Edmon Dias

Edmund Dias was a child of St.John’s in its formative days under the great educationist Cyril Aronald Jansz Passing his Senior Cambridge Examination in 1915 he otained his degree self taught while on the staff of St.John’s martintet for efficiency.

After thirty years of service he resigned his headmastership of John’s Boys’ school founded by Jansz in 1876.The great Jansz was no more were the schools guided by persanalities.The personal became impersonal;and Dias entered the amorphous areana of Government Central School service.

He blazed a trial from Dehiwala and via Telijjawila and Horana to Kotehena,pioneering from one town to another.Ten years of such work would have caused a gasp of finis in any other man , but not so in Dias.

He had given a life to teaching and teaching had given him joie de vivre.

For sixteen years he helped private institution Pembroke Academy,Buddhist Girl’s College,Alezandra College,Musaeus College and Aquinas Hall.

It was a long walk fifty six years through the corridors of learning.The beginning and the end were meaningful symbols:anz of St.John’s and Thomas Aquinas.

Edmund Dias was not the tutor for the ad hoc purpose of passing an examination. To each according to his mental power he taught the first principals as the basic ground of workmanship and growing insight.

Here is one of his old pupils speaking for himself and about Edmud Dias.Eusebius Goonerathne who passed into the civil Service of Cerylon wrote this in the centenary souvenir of the Johnian.

“Mathematic was not a subject I favoured until I met Edmund Dias.He made me and a few others wait after school in order to further our studies in Mathematics. The only reward I was able to give him for his unremitting efforts was to excel in the subject he taught. The interested he crated in me for Mathematics lasted beyond school days and remained to exercise a decisive influence on my career at University College.”

His farewell to the chalk and duster did not end his association with the corporate life of St Johns’s. Years after year he took part in the celebration of Association of Old Johnians in the precincts and the old aura which himself helped to diffuse.

In 1977 he was a member of the Centenary Souvenir Committee. His contribution to souvenir under caption. The staff Over the years was a masterpiece of school history.

Blessed with a good wife he gave his hostage to fortune and smiled out of those faces in his last days.

Dr.Gunapala Malasekara

Prf. Ediriweera Sarathchandra

Sir Susantha de Fonseka

Mr.Leslies Gunawardana

Mr.A.C.Goonarathne

Mr.Lalith Athulathmudali

Other Old Boys


Dr.Colvin R desilva

Mr.Stanely Senanayaka

Dr.M.V.P Peiris

Peter Perera Abesekara

Nandasiri Jinesena

Nandasena Rathnapala

Douglas Ramanayake

D.K Kulasekara

J.A Samarasekara

Botraam Mohandiramge

C.P.P Samarasekera

Percy Samaraweera


Memorable Day For College

    On the occasion of the official visit by the Minister of Education and Higher Education to St.John’s College, Panadura today, it is our bounden duty to trace the history of this pioneer educational institution which is produced learned people of international repute. It has a history of about 125 years.

A learned scholar, L.A.Bharati tracing the history of St.John’s in a letter to ‘the johnian’ (magazine of old johnians) says thus:

From the early days of the Sinhalese kings, Panadura has been famous as a centre of learning and it was a therefore in the fitness of things that the place should have received the early attention of the British government in the establishment of an English school. The first English school in panadura was therefore state school to which can be traced the organic of St.John’s.

The Colebrooke Commission in 1834 in its report made the following recommendation with regard to education:

  • The compulsory teaching of English.
  • Creation of a ‘School Commission’ for the administration of all state school;
  • Recruitment to the Government service to de done from those proficient in English

Those proposals encourage the establishment of state English schools as well as those run by other missionary societies. In 1841 in place of the ‘Schools Commission’ a ‘Central Schools Commission’ had been established and one of its primary task was to formulate a scheme to provide financial assistant to those school run by the none-Government Christian Mission and other private organizations.

The Basic English school had about 75 students and levied fees and the subjects taught were English Language, Mathematics, History, Geography and Christianity. The medium was English.

With the passage of time, the government completely entrusted the responsibility of running the English schools to the Christian Mission. Some of those were St.Tomas’s College, Mount Lavinia (1876), St. Benedict’s (1868) and Wesley (1874) Colleges in Colombo, St.Micael’s Batticaioa (1872) and St.John’s Panadura.

St.John’s had been initially run by the state, but with the heavy involument of Britain in the World war,thebritish were compelled to hand over all state schools to Christian missions and St; John’s had been handed over to an evangelist society called SPG and thereafter the school had been named “SPG Boy’s English school’. It was in the premises of the Aglican Church which was locked just by the Panadura River. In 1876 Mudliar susew de Zoysa of Panadura hailing form a philanthropic family, constructed a new building of the Crurch,demolishing the school building and be coltructed a new building for the school as an out right donation form him. The church carried the name of the evangelist “St’John’s College

The SPG appointed clement La Brooy as the Headmaster but had not remained long and his place had taken by J.R Peiris

On 9th June 1882 anewera dawned on St.John’s when Cyril A.Jansz who had resigned his headmastership of St.John’s college in Kaluthara, assumed duties as the principal of the St.John’s College Panadura.

Battered by the problems created by the World war, the present society of the SPG in England had been compelled to reduce its financial aid to the SPG branch in Sri Lanka and consequently the SPG experienced financial difficulties within a short period.

Due to this crisis, a representative deputation which comprised the members of the Bar Council had met the Bishop in Colombo and had proposed that the school be handed over to Cyril A.Jansz, the principal, to run it as has his private school. The Bishop had agreed to his proposal and with good support from the educated and affluent residents of Panadura, MR.Jansz had taken the challenge with confidence. His next move had been to meet the Buddhist leaders of Panadura and to give them a pledge that he would conduct the school without any bias towards any caste, creed, Nationality or religion. The school had only 82 children and 6 Teachers at the time of his take over but due to his determined efforts, in 1886 the number of children had increased to 150.

In 1886 Mr.Jansz Married Miss.Emelia Jansz from Galle and thereafter both were involved in the development of St.John’s & school.

Mr.jansz started a class for girls, initially with two in attendance but within a short period of time the class became so popular that she had to rent out a building. In 1917 she started a girls school in a newly constructed building closer to the hospital junction.(presently where the Co-perative wholesale Establishment is housed )

Thus, this persuasive lady purchased two houses closer to her house to start two hostels, one for girls and the other for boys. It was a prosperous period for the Jansz family and in 1915 Mr.Jansz purchased a12 acre block of land at Udahamulla & constructed a bungalow and also a new two-storied building to house students for higher education viz Cambridge Senior, London Metric and London Intermediate.

This great educationist worked round the clock and according to a time table. He got up early in the morning and by 7.30a.m went to the church. There after between 8.30a.m to 10.30a.m inspects the boy’s school and by 10.30a.m moves to the girls school also for inspection. After lunch again he goes to the Madakubura middle school where he spends time for 2.30 to 4.30 p.m after school he works in his office till 11.00p.m.

After 1928 he went into retirement but still attending to administrative matters from his office in his bungalow. Having lived a useful and contended life, After a long life of 84 years he passed away in april 1940 and Mrs.Jansz too passed away in June the same year.

Mr. Jansz was a rare personality, highly disciplined and a person of principles. He never had any religious bias. Buddhist children were allowed to take ‘pancil’ (five precepts) at the time the Christian children went to the church.

During just half a century St, Johan’s had risen to the position of one of the few leading popular first class schools in the country. She produced so many distinguished and learned sons & daughters to the nation. Few of them were Dr. Ediriweera Sarachchandra, Professor G.P. Malalasekara, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva former Minister of state Lalith Athulathmudali and Leslie Gunawardana, former I.G.P. Stanley Senanayaka, Dr.Punchibandara Sannasgala, Dr.M.V.P Peiris, A.C. Goonarathna, Q.C.etc.

After the death of Mr. Jansz his son Cyril A Jansz (Jnr.) became the principal and administered the school. Even before the school’s takeover by the Government in 1957, Mr,Jansz voluntarily handed over the school to the Government in 1956. The mantle was handed over to a long-standing master C.P.P.Samarasekara.After the take over, the than minister of Education named it ‘Panadura Maha Vidyalaya.’ But in the face of stiff opposition from the past pupils, parents & people of panadura, he later agreed to re-name it ‘Cyril Jansz Maha Vidyalaya’ as a mark of gratitude to its founder.

With the Kannangara reforms C. W. W. Kannangara, Minister of education, before long Sinhala became the medium of instruction in schools. In 1968 the minister introduced a White Paper in parliament categorizing all school in the country under two categories, “Junior” & “Senior” school. The Junior schools to feed the Senior schools and had classes frim From 1 to 5. The senior schools retained classes from from 6 upwards. This sceme did not work well in respect of St. john’s as the feeder school principals did not transfer the children in form 6 and above; whereas the principal, St. Johns transferred all children in form 5 and below to the Junior school.

The Association of Old Johnians & the School Development Society along with the enthusiastic past pupils and parents & the teaching staff are working hard with dedication & determination to usher a new erea to our Alma Master St. Johan’s


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