MRS G DANIEL
Another memorable period dawned in the annals of Southlands when an experienced teacher Miss G. Daniel assumed duties as Principal of the school in 1976. She devoted her services with much dedication upgrading the school to a very prestigious position during the last quarter of the 20th century and could be recorded as a golden era of Southlands. She did her best for the betterment of Southlands and many significant events occurred due to her capable management of all departments in the school during her stay of 15 long years. Southlands became a very popular school in the south due to continuous academic achievements of the school throughout a long period of time. In 1977 the school was upgraded to an ”A” grade school and further promoted to one of the eighteen National schools in the island in 1984.
The leadership system introduced by Miss Freethy in 1927 was changed by Mrs. Daniels in 1977. Instead of house captains she started a school prefect system and 40 students were appointed as prefects at first and the number increased to 60 according to the needs of the school. Accordingly many students had the opportunity to serve the school as student leaders and they were guided to develop leadership qualities during their school carrier.
In 1977, Mrs. Daniel introduced Commerce and Aesthetic streams as new subjects to the Advanced Level curriculum and gave students an opportunity to study the subjects for examinations. Along with all new additions, a remarkable progress was shown in the academic fields. In 1979, Mr. B. R. Dissanayaka inaugurated a scholarship fund in memory of his wife Kathleen Balage, and the students who did extremely well in Ordinary Level and Advanced Level were awarded the scholarship.
The aesthetic studies were developed and Mrs. Daniel encouraged the students to develop their talents and skills in different areas. In view of developing their personalities many clubs were formed. In 1977, a Fine Arts association was formed and children participated in many District and Island-wide competitions and brought credit to the school winning many gold, silver and bronze medals many times.
With no proper playground for the school, students did their best in the field of sports and were able to set up records in various events. In Badminton, students were fortunate to reach international standards. Mrs. Daniel gave immense assistance to develop skills and talents in sports as well as in other fields always. Many Inter-House competitions encouraged to widen their knowledge as well as their different skills in many areas. Southlanders were fortunate to bring number of awards to the school with the guiding and training they received in many directions in the academic field and in extra curricular activities as well. Many associations were formed according to the number of subject areas in the school curriculum and children were able to exhibit their skills and talents in subject related competitions. They were also able to win many awards at Inter-School, District-level and Island-wide competitions for many years. Fine Arts, Science, Commerce, Home Science, sports, Sinhalese and English literary unions and also the Buddhist union and social service union are the main associations included in the school curriculum. In addition, Girl Guide and Brownie movement and First Aid association helped immensely to develop personality skills during their school life to a great extent.
To improve reading habits of children, the library was re-organised to be well equipped with furniture and other needs and was declared open for the Centenary Celebrations in 1985. Along with that, Mrs. Daniel promoted the existing class libraries in the primary section and in addition, a reading room was provided especially to encourage the small children to read. Old pupils association and the school co-operative society gave financial assistance to Mrs. Daniel to purchase the furniture and other equipment needed in the library.
Mrs. Daniel was anxious to improve the facilities in school for both students and the staff; and accordingly in 1977, a teacher’s guild was formed and in 1979 the school Co-operative Society was formed. The school Co-operative Society was able to win many awards being the best society among the Galle District school co-operative societies gaining a recorded profit in sales.
Along with the rapid development, Southlands became more popular in the South and demand for the school admission was increasing .The major problem that Mrs. Daniel had to face was to find accommodation to house the increasing number of students. As an immediate solution she was able to acquire a house “Abeywardena Bungalowa” adjoining the school in 1977, and children of grades 1 and 2 were housed in it. Still the problem of accommodation was not solved and she had to find shelter for the students of 6 and 7 graders who had no proper room. Dr. Dahanayaka, M.P. for Galle, very kindly granted Rs. 10 lakhs from the decentralised budget for 1982 - 1983 for the building fund, and with the permission obtained from the Department of Archaeology, Mrs. Daniel was able to build a three storied building with twelve class rooms in the premises of Abeywardena Bungalow and was able to fulfil another urgent need.
There was no room available for the primary grade students to follow studies in the morning, and for a period of 17 years the grades were conducted in the afternoon due to the lack of accommodation facilities. Mrs. Daniel was anxious to acquire another building adjoining the school to give comfortable accommodation to the small children in the primary section who underwent many difficulties attending school in the afternoon. She was very fortunate to see her dream come a reality when great philanthropist Mr. B.R. Dissanayaka very kindly donated Rs. 18 lakhs to purchase the building in memory of her wife Kathleen Dissanayaka who was an old girl of Southlands. The building “Volanka” was acquired in 1983 and was renamed as ”Dissanayaka” building. Accordingly, about thousand two hundred primary students could happily start their studies in the morning; but the problem was not solved completely since the finances was not available to purchase the furniture needed to convert the building with modern facilities. Mrs. Daniel made a very kind request to the parents to help to fulfil the need in whatever capacity they could and Rs. 3 lakhs were collected with the fullest co-operation given by all the parents, and Mrs. Daniel was able to fulfill her desire and all were happy with the event. The primary children had the privilege of learning with best of facilities in modern class rooms again in the morning from 1984.
The public addressing system which had been installed in school in November 1980 became an asset to the school with the expansion of buildings in the school premises.
Along with the take over of schools in 1962, Buddhist activities were included in the school curriculum. Even though more than ninety percent of the student population were Buddhists, school did not have a shrine room for the children to observe religious activities before school began. Mrs. Daniel with the financial assistance given by pupils, parents and well wishers was fortunate to construct a beautiful Shrine room in the school premises and it was declared open on 22nd March 1985 as a main event for the centenary celebrations.
The school hostel which gave accommodation to boarders was re-organised and provided more accommodation to children from distant areas and many activities were organised to widen their knowledge and also to improve their intellectual qualities which made both pupils and parents happy.
Southlands College served the field of education from 1885 and completed hundred years of satisfactory service in 1985 which was celebrated in a very grand way during Ms. Daniel’s era. To commemorate the great event, a very valuable school magazine was published tracing the history of the school with the assistance given by past pupils and devoted teachers.
Mrs. Daniel, with the experience gained in administration for many years, rendered a commendable service during the 17 years as Principal at Southlands. The school became a very popular Educational Institute in Southern Sri Lanka due to her efficiency in co-ordinating all services carefully and systematically and for her wonderful management of the school. Mrs. Daniel as patron made the school development society realise the value of their responsibilities towards the school and they gave their maximum assistance for the development of school at all times. Under the guidance of Mrs. Daniel, O.P.A. Mother Association and the Colombo Branch also gave their fullest co-operation for the betterment of the school.
Examination results and many other awards won by the students throughout the period reflect the rapid progress in the academic field as well as in all extra curricular activities in school. Along with the introduction of new subjects to the curriculum, children were able to gain knowledge in a number of fields. Accordingly, from 1976, a large number of students were fortunate to get selected to enter the universities and school had produced many intellectuals to the Sri Lankan society in many different areas. Number of students who qualified themselves at public examinations increased very rapidly and 75% - 80% students passed the examinations during the period.
A Remarkable progress was visible and Southlands gained popularity in Southern Sri Lanka during Mrs. Daniel’s 15 years of devoted service. Mrs. Daniel retired from education service in 1991 imparting a valuable service to the great development of Southlands, leaving an indelible mark in the history of the school.