16 April, 2024

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Uduvil Girls’ College Has A New Principal

By Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Dr. Mahendran Thiruvarangan

The 4th of January 2023 marked a milestone in the 199-year-old history of Uduvil Girls’ College. On that beautiful morning draped by a clear-blue sky, the Jubilee Hall of the College stood decorated in a discreetly enchanting manner. The College flag and other flags carrying the College colors, white and blue, were fluttering outside the Hall, while school girls, teachers, well-wishers were seated inside. There was a serene majesty in everything that adorned the premises of the beautiful campus of the College. The College was ready for the installation of Ms. Rosana Mathuramathy Kulendran as its 10th Principal. 

At 10 a.m., with the ringing of the school bell, a procession that comprised the new Principal, the outgoing Principal Mrs. Suneetha Jebaratnam, and the officers of the Board of Directors of the College entered the Jubilee Hall. The Installation Service included hymns, a special song by the College choir, bible readings, prayers and a sermon by Bishop Jebanesan, the third Bishop of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (JDCSI). Ms. Rosana Mathuramathy Kulendran was installed as the new Principal of Uduvil Girls’ College by the Rt. Rev. Dr. V. Pathmathayalan, the fifth Bishop of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India. As a Diocesan institution, the cultural and religious life of Uduvil Girls’ College is shaped by the Christian ethos and traditions of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India and its predecessor churches closely linked to the American and South Indian congregationalist traditions. During the Installation Service, the Bishop was assisted by the Rev. Sathees Daniel, the Secretary of the JDCSI and Rev. S. Lingeswaran, the Chaplain of Uduvil Girls’ College. 

On behalf of the Search Committee, Ms. Vijula Arulanantham presented a detailed report on the process followed in selecting the new Principal. After installing Ms. Kulendran as Principal, Bishop Pathmathayalan presented her with a copy of the Holy Bible. The new Principal then received the keys of the College from the outgoing Principal. Thereafter, the new Principal was greeted and garlanded by the members of the College Board, representatives of the staff and students and Mrs. Shiranee Mills, a former Principal of the College and other guests. 

In his sermon, Bishop Jebanesan reflected upon the Biblical origins of the College Motto “The Truth shall Make You Free” and its relevance to our times and the purposes for which Uduvil Girls’ College was founded by American missionaries nearly 200 years ago. He spoke about the challenges the early missionaries faced when they embarked on the task of educating the girls of Jaffna. He observed that the missionaries started their work in a society entrenched in patriarchy where women’s entry into the arena of education was seen as an aberration that may lead to familial and social disintegration. Bishop Jebanesan also outlined the achievements Uduvil Girls’ College has made during its 200-year journey under the leadership of its four American and five national Principals. 

At the end of the service, Bishop Pathmathayalan proclaimed the benediction and the service came to a solemn end with the singing of the hymn “Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer”. Ms. Rosana Kulendran was later escorted to the Principal’s Office where she officially assumed duties as the 10th Principal of Uduvil Girls’ College. Bishop Pathmathayalan signed the Log Book of the College marking the entry of Uduvil into its next phase under the leadership of Ms. Kulendran. The guests were invited to the Mission House located inside the campus, where the Principals of the College reside, for traditional tea. 

Ms. Rosana Kulendran, who has taken over as the 10th Principal of Uduvil Girls’ College, holds a BSc degree in Mathematics and Statistics, from the University of London, an MA degree in Biblical Studies from the Colombo Theological Seminary and an MSc degree Mathematics Education from the University of Colombo. She also possesses a wealth of experience in the field of education. She was a teacher at Gateway College, headed the London Advanced Level section at St. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia, served as Vice Principal of Royal Institute International School and later as Principal of the school for the Deaf at Ratmalana. Her accomplishments have created optimism in the school community that Uduvil will continue to flourish and reach greater heights under her guidance. 

As Uduvil celebrate its 200th founding anniversary next year, it is important that we re-visit the two-century history of this unique educational institution in the North and its contribution to women’s education and women’s upliftment in social, economic and political terms. There is a need to discuss the role the College has played in challenging oppressive ideas and attitudes that curtailed women and girls’ mobility and freedom and the kind of womanist/feminist vision the College has offered to the wider community through education and other activities. Much has already been written by scholars around the world about Uduvil’s contribution to the educational scene of Jaffna and the social changes the College has encouraged and promoted. It is important that this scholarship is read and discussed widely by the members of the College community and well-wishers and that it informs the future directions that the College and its work ought to take. 

Uduvil has always been sensitive to the social and economic inequalities observed in the North and the country at large and how they affect women’s education and their socio-economic lives. While celebrating its achievements in academics and extra-curricular activities, Uduvil should explore avenues to diversify its student population by creating appropriate policies that seek to increase the admission of girls from Panchamar caste communities, war-affected families and Malaiyaham. 

The current economic crisis in Sri Lanka has had an adverse impact on the education of children from low-income families and communities that have faced caste and class-based marginalization historically in the North. Like many other schools in the country, this is a challenge that Uduvil is faced with today. The College has to work closely with the parents, the communities in its neighborhood, alumni around the world, the Department of Education, the Board of Directors and the Trustees of Jaffna College Funds based in Boston who provide financial support to the College to address the difficulties caused by the economic crisis. For Uduvil to remain a place that catalyzes social change, gender justice and social justice should continue as its priorities and take a central place in the College’s vision for the future. 

*Mahendran Thiruvarangan is a Senior Lecturer attached to the University of Jaffna. 

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    Nice piece. I wish the school and the Principal the best.

    In an 1815 survey Jaffna was found to have only 2 women who could read and write. They were both Devadasis who had been taught because of their training in music.
    Uduvil’s contribution to female upliftment is immense. George Somasundaram in his memoires writes of an Uduvil girl who for her wedding went to the Registrar and signed her name. The Regustrar who was used to women putting their thumb print, was so flustered that in place of his signature he wrote “The bride signs her name.”

  • 0
    0

    A question out of curiosity. The new Principal’s grandfather, Bishop Sabapathy Kulandran, spelt his name as Kulandran. However, she spells it as Kulendran. Why change a family name from an illustrious Bishop?

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