Dr.C.W.W.Kannangara is regarded as the Father of Free Education in Sri Lanka.

Christopher William Wijekoon kannangara wasborn on October 13,1889 at Randombe, a suburb of Ambalngoda. His father was John Daniel Wijekoon and his mother was Emaly Wijesinghe.

He had his primary education at Wesleyan High School, Ambalangoda and then he had his secondary education at Richmond College, Galle as a free scholar.

Dr. Kannangara was an eminent Sri Lankan educationist who rendered a great service for the development who rendered a great service for the development who rendered a great service for the development of education. He brought about several reforms in education. He brought about several reforms in education. He became the Minister of Education in the Legislative Council in 1923. He realized that the existing education system was not suitable to fulfill the needs of the society. He wanted to make some amendments in the system. In order to achieve this objective, he submitted an Education Reform Bill in 1938.

He saw that the society was divided into two groups under the then education system, as the English educated and vernacular educated. He wanted to give an equal education to all irrespective of wealth or other reasons. The concept of Central Colleges was Dr. Kannangara’s greatest contribution to the development of education. The first Central Colleges set up under this programme were at Minuwangoda, Veyangoda, Akuramboda, Matugama, Weeraketiya, Kattamkudy, Ibbagamuwa, Dickwella and Marathugoda. By 1944 there were 22 central Colleges. This number was increased up to 50 by 1946. He is a national hero who paved the way to both urban and rural children to receive free education.

Dr. Kannangara also realized that some people could not afford to send their children to schools because of the poverty. In order to overcome this problem, he introduced a system of scholarships. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Kannangara, the Father of Free Education.

Written By Lasantha Jayanath.

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