C W W Kannangara

By not allowing “money” to restrict the education of children at every social class, C W W Kannangara who is known as the Father of Free Education in Sri Lanka, was done a priceless service to the country. On October 13, 1884, he was born at Randombe in Ambalangoda and his full name is Christopher William Wijekoon Kannangara. His father was John Daniel Wijekoon Kannangara and Emily Wijesinghe was his mother. He began his early education at Weslyan High School at Ambalangoda and when he turned to 12 years old, his father lost his job. At those years, Kannangara family had to struggle hard for their daily sustenance. During this period, C W W Kannangara got the Foundation scholarship and was able to enter to the Richmond College, Galle. That was the time, the money did a huge impact to his education. This was the main reason to have the free education concept to his mind. He didn’t allow his poverty to interrupt his education. C W W Kannangara was often the first in class and outshined in sports in the field. He was able to pass the Cambridge senior examination, placed in the first division obtaining the highest marks among the students of the whole British Commonwealth. After that, he worked as a teacher at the Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa and then at Wesley College, Colombo. During this time period, C W W Kannangara decided to become a lawyer and he attended the Law College and passed out as a Lawyer.

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During the unfortunate British riots in 1915, many innocent people were arrested and he defended those innocent people without any remuneration. C W W Kannangara was elected to the Legislative Council and he became the President of the Ceylon National Congress also. He encouraged to teach Sinhala at all schools. And worked to ensure that education was provided with equal opportunities for all children in the country, irrespective of social class, economic condition, religion and ethnic origin. From 1931 to 1947, he was the minister of Education in the State Council and he worked to establish the University of Peradeniya and introduced the Central schools concept.
During these years, there was a remarkable progress in the sphere of education. And he worked to give free mid-day meal for school children also. Dr. C W W Kannangara did a massive service in Sri Lankan Education and in 1947, he introduced the Free Education Scheme. For this scheme, many people opposed, but he didn’t stop helping schools, he continued with his giant endeavour with eminent courage. But due to have many rivals, he lost his seat at the parliamentary election. But again in 1952, he was elected to the parliament from Agalawaththa seat. He didn’t take any personal or unwanted benefits from his political powers. Dr. C W W Kannangara survived his rest of life by his pension only. In 1969, he was died after completing 83 years. Dr. CC W W Kannangara is a great, colourful and illustrious statesman worthy of emulation by present and future generations!C W W Kannangara

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