Union College, Tellippalai, Jaffna

Union College, Tellippalai, Jaffna

name = Union College
established = 1816
type = Public
principal = S.Punniyaseelan
city = Jaffna
country = Sri Lanka
website = http://www.junioncollege.org


The First English School of Jaffna, which led to Union College, was founded in Dutch Hall in 1816 by the Rev. Daniel Poor, an American citizen. At that time, the bitter consequences of the War of 1812 had soured the feelings of the governor of the British colony of Ceylon, Robert Brownrigg, against all Americans. In 1813 he refused permission for the first batch of American-Ceylon Missionaries of New England Fact|date=January 2008 to settle in Colombo.

They were sent to the arid Jaffna peninsula, permitted to occupy only Dutch buildings, and refused permission to proselytize in Jaffna or Point Pedro. Brownrigg also refused them a charter to provide higher education. The Rev. Samuel Newell arrived on September 7, 1813 on the Jaffna peninsula and occupied the Tellippilai Union premises, which at that time consisted of dilapidated and snake-infested structures dating back to the Portuguese of the 16th century. [Annals of the American Pulpit]

Timeline: The First English School in Jaffna

* 1816 Dec. 9 - ‘Common Free School’ founded on Dutch Church premises by Rev. Daniel Poor of the American Mission. He was the first head of school from 1816 - 1823 of this, the first pioneer English School founded in Jaffna. Bilingual education in English and Tamil. Assisted by Edward Warren and Mrs. Susan Poor (in charge of girls in the Hostel)
* 1818 July 20 - Common Free School was converted into ‘Family Boarding School’, starting with 6 students including 5 girls. Minorities were accepted, including Miranda Sellathurai.
* 1820 August - Mr. James Garret banished by Lieutenant Governor Sir Edward Warns after seeking permission to establish a printing press on the Union Campus. [2] Rev. Henry Woodward, assistant teacher, transferred to Tellippalai School from Batticotta.
* 1821 - Total number of students: 11 boys and 3 girls.
* 1823 June 30 - Rev. Henry Woodward appointed Principal on the transfer of Daniel Poor to Batticotta [Vadukkoddai] Seminary. Mrs. Woodward remains in charge of girls. Mr.M.Tumban, a native, was a teacher of English Language. Jordan Lodge and Leonard Woods were other native assistant teachers.
* 1824 - 9 girls from Tellippalai Boarding School transferred to the newly founded Girls Boarding School at Uduvil under care of headmistress Mrs. Harriet Winslow.
* 1825 - Boarding School was converted into a Preparatory School. Promising boys from other Day Schools were admitted into this school, which attained great success.
* 1828 August 25 - Rev. Levi Spaulding appointed Principal. Assistant teachers: Mrs. Spaulding, J.Codman and Champlia [3] . First student graduate (Samuel Lochester) is appointed as a teacher at the school.
* 1832 - School renown declines as brilliant students were transferred to Batticotta Seminary [4] .
* 1833 March 8 - Rev. Mr. Spaulding transferred to Uduvil and Benjamin C. Megis appointed Principal from Vaddukkoddai. June: a Mallakam court interpreter was baptized by Mr. Winslow. Several campus buildings destroyed as hostility against Christianity increases.
* 1841 - First printing press [American Ceylon Press] to print Tamil publications founded on the school premises. The first Tamil newspaper ‘Uthayatharakai’ [cjajhuif] [5] was printed on the Union Campus, published by Mr.C.W. Thamotharampillai [6] as the first editor.
* 1856 - The Anderson-Thompson Deputation of 1855 recommended that Tamil Medium Schools were the best for evangelical purposes and recommended to close down all its English schools. The English medium school at Tellippalai did not function during 1856 to 1871.
* 1869 - Chellappa English School was founded on Union premises by Mr.Chellappa with Mr.Chellappa as the first principal.
* 1871 - Vaddukkoddai Tamil Theological and Training School was shifted to Tellippalai.
* 1872 - Rev. Wm. W. Howland assumed duties as the head of the school.
* 1875 - The school became grant-in-aid school and earned Rs.300 annually from the government.
* 1878 - Rev.T.S.Smith appointed principal. Tamil Theological department closed down. An Industrial Department was added to the school and the name changed to "Tamil Industrial and Training School".
* 1882 - Sanders Hall was constructed with the money provided by former students and well-wishers. Opened by HE Governor Sir Arthur Gordon.
* 1900 - Rev.J.H.Dixon appointed principal.
* 1901 - Mr. Chellapah passes away, and Chellappah English School is taken over by the American Mission and renamed the "American Mission English School" with Mr.A.T.Thuraiappahpillai as principal
* 1910 - Mr.A.T.Thuraiappahpillai, principal and poet, renounces Christianity to return to Hinduism. He breaks away from the American Mission English School and founds Mahajana English High School in October [7] to provide English medium education to Hindu students in Hindu environment. Mr.J.V.Chelliah appointed American Mission English School principal from 1910 to 1937. Rev. A.A.Ward was appointed as the principal of the Tamil Industrial and Training school
* 1916 - The Tamil Training School moves to Kopay and renamed "Industrial and Primary School". Curriculum expanded to include printing, book binding, gardening, basket weaving and furniture making.
* 1929 - Industrial and Primary School was converted into Bilingual School
* 1934 - Eight teachers teaching 150 students up to 8 standard.

At this stage, although the American Missionaries did not succeed much in converting natives from Hinduism to Christianity for which reason they settled at Tellippalai, they did succeed tremendously in the matter of promoting English education.

* 1935 - Mr. I. P. Thurairatnam MSc (known as the Architect of Union College) appointed Principal of the Bilingual School - the first national to take the place of an American missionary.
* 1937 - Ward Block opened; a row of 8 classrooms comprising science laboratory, library, geography and art rooms. Mr.S.K.Rasiah appointed principal of American Mission English School.
* 1939 - American Mission English School and the Bilingual School amalgamated and renamed Tellippalai Union High School. Mr. I. P. Thurairatnam and Mr.S.K.Rasiah assumed duties as principal and deputy principal respectively. SSC [Senior School Certificate] and London Matriculation classes were added. Students were grouped into three inter houses named Smith, Dickson and Ward in order to honour the educational services they rendered as principals.
* 1940 October 7 - Tellipalai Union High School was registered in the Department of Education, Colombo as Tellippalai Union College. Student Christian Movement, Scout Troop and Old Boys Association were introduced. October: The first Prize-giving and Founder’s Day celebrations were held. Prof. C. Sunthara- lingam was the Chief Guest. Also, the first college magazine ‘The Union Magazine’ was published. Mr.C.E.Rajasingam was the editor.
* 1941 - First batch of students sat the SSC Examination. Four candidates passed. Fund raising campaign for constructing buildings was organized. College Cricket team commenced home and away matches. Football and Athletics teams began participating in the JSSA competitions.
* 1944 - University Entrance [UE] and High School Certificate {HSC] Arts classes introduced.
* 1946 - Biology and Physics laboratories were renovated. UE and HSC science classes were started. First batch of students appeared for the UE and HSC arts examinations.
* 1947 - Status of Union College was elevated to Grade I school. Union Carnival and Exhibition were held and the souvenir ‘The Union Pictorial’ was launched during the carnival. First batch of science students appeared for the UE and HSC examinations. One candidate gained admission to the science faculty.
* 1948 - A second playground was acquired.
* 1952 - HSC Students Union was formed. College emerged JSSA basketball champions.
* 1953 - Union College became champions in the JSSA cricket tournament. Four students gain admission to university. One student was awarded first division in the HSC examination.
* 1954 - ‘Malaya Block’ constructed by the western boundary with donations from former students, well-wishers and with funds collected in Malaysia and Singapore by Mr.I.P.Thurairatnam. Union College Old Students Association, Colombo branch was inaugurated. The first president [8] was Mr. S. J. V. Chelvanayagam, Q.C., the president of the Federal Party [தமிழ் அரசுக் கட்சி] .
* 1959 - Mr. S. Kathiraiandy took up the Headmaster post of the Lower School. Magazine ‘The Union Primary’ was launched.
* 1961 - There were classes from Kindergarten to HSC [Grade12] . Maximum number of students was 750.
* 1962 - Government took over Union College. Union College Hindu Teachers’ Association was inaugurated. For the first time [9] in the one and a half century history of Union College, Hindu students celebrated Saraswathy Poosai. Union College emerged JSSA Football champions.
* 1963 - Union College retained JSSA Football Championship.

Mr. I. P. Thurairatnam, an honoured name in academic and sports circles, is regarded as the Architect of Union College. He left over an imposing rich heritage and noble traditions to his successors.

* 1964 - Mr. I. P. Thurairatnam retired. Mr.K.Krishnapillai, Deputy Principal of Mahajana College, assumed duties as permanent Principal.
* 1965 - The school crest and anthem were replaced with new ones.
* 1972 - Mr. T. Nadarajah, Grade II Special Post and a science graduate, assumed the post of Principal. Won the JSSA 3rd Eleven Football Championship.
* 1973 - A fourth Inter House was constituted to honour the immense services of Mr.I.P.Thurairatnam to Union College. College retained JSSA 3rd Eleven Football Championship.
* 1974 - The old class block at the entrance was demolished and a two-storey building’s ground floor was completed.
* 1976 - Hockey was introduced for the first time. Mr. Albert Rasiah, Zoology teacher, was the coach.
* 1977 - There was only one, Year V scholar [10] , among the entire student population. It alone speaks volumes about the one and a half decade’s [1964-1978] history of Union College that had to strive a lot to raise its head as a result of the red tape tradition of the government service. On the other hand the period was a turning point on another issue. Hindu atmosphere too began flourishing on a par with Christianity.
* 1978 January- Assistant teacher Mr.Kathir Balasundaram, arts graduate - playwright, short-story writer, biographer and English/Tamil novelist assumed the post of Deputy Principal. November: Mr. Kathir Balasundaram began performing as principal after Mr.T.Nadarajah, Principal, had been transferred. December 16: A meeting was held on the campus with Hon. A. Amirthalingam M.P. for KKS as the chairperson. Thanthai Selva Thodakkanilai Palli that was newly founded that day. It started functioning from January 1, 1979. Under 17 and 19 Hockey teams emerged champions. Under 19 Football team emerged champions.
* 1979 - February 2: Mr.Kathir Balasundaram, SLEAS was appointed as permanent principal. Under 17 and 19 Hockey teams emerged champions. College retained JSSA First Eleven Football Championship.
* 1980 - A large water tank capable of catering to 3000 students was constructed. Playground was enlarged by adding a piece of land on the north-west corner (Open Air Theatre Area and its backyard). College retained JSSA First Eleven Football Championship. The two-storey building at the entrance was completed by constructing the first floor with the allocation provided by Hon. A.Amirthalingam, the M.P. for KKS. Full uniforms for both girls and boys were introduced.
* 1981 - An Open Air theatre was constructed in the newly acquired land, by the KKS Cement Factory.
* 1985 - Union College commenced partaking in the famous Maviddapuram Kandasamy Kovil annual Thiruvila.
* 1986 January – Foundation was laid for a Hindu Temple - Sri Puvaneswary Ambal Alayam. August: Opening of the Hindu Temple. Siva Sri Nakuleswara Krukkal, the owner of Keerimalai Nkuleswara Temple, conducted the ‘KUMBA ABISEKA’ ceremony. The Chief of Nallai Atheenam Srilasri Somasunthara Thesika Gnanasambantha Paramasarya Swamikal was prsenet and blessed the students as well as teachers. Master P. N. Suganthan got A in all four subjects [math] in the A. L. Examination, scored 372 marks and established an all island record. He was awarded ODA scholarship by the Cambridge University. At Cambridge [Christ’s College] Mr.Suganthan topped in the first two final examinations. Twenty-four students gained admissions [11] to university on the result of 1986 A.L. Examination - the highest number of students ever to enter university from Union College.
* 1987 February - There were 5 divisions in year 6 and 7; 4 divisions from 8 to 10, excluding year ten repeat classes. There were 8 AL classes excluding the repeat classes. In each division there were 40 students. The number on roll was 1300 and there were 63 teachers including 5 on facility fees. Year 6: Out of 5 divisions, one was exclusively reserved for Year V scholarship holders. [12]
* 1987 February 28 - Principal Mr.Kathir Balasundaram retired.

Mr. Kathir Balasundaram’s success in building up the college was phenomenal. The discipline, especially the pin drop silence, which prevailed on the Campus during class hours, surprised the Education Department. His period is depicted as the ‘Golden Era’ in the Union College Special Souvenir of 2001 [13] . ‘Saturday Review’ in its 1986 editorial commended Principal Mr.K.Balasundaram [government school] and Jaffna College Principal Rajan Kadiramar [private school] as the best school administrators in the Jaffna District.

External links

* [http://www.junioncollege.com Union College Official Site]


[1.1] “At Tillipally [Tellippalai] , the repairs were in such forwardness that Messrs. Warren and Poor took up their residence there, about the middle of October, [1816] . ………….. Early in December, they established a school for the instruction of native youth and children, both in English and Tamul.” ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOREIGN MISSIONS, 1817. REPORT. 151

[1.2] “From the opening of the first American missionary school in Tellipalai [Tillipally] in 1816, through 1848, one hundred and five Tamil schools and 16 English schools were founded.” EMBASSY OF SRI LANKA, [Historical Context] Washington D.C. 1998. A Pictorial Record by U.S. Information Service, Colombo - 1978.

[2] The History of Christianity in India. Rev. James Hough 1860, Chapter VIII, p 482. [3] Calcutta Christian Observer edited by various Christian ministers. 1832 Vol. 1 p 45

[4 ] “Preparatory school removed from Tillipally to Seminary at Batticotta.” History of American Mission to the Heathen – Spooner & Howland 1840 p 223

[5] ‘Golden Era - Union College Management Memoirs’ Kathir Balasundaram, p xv. ISBN 0-9781836-2-2.

[6] wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaffna

[7] Web page. Title: The History of Mahajana College. p 1.

[8] “ I Remember... Being the Memoirs of I.P.Thurairatnam.” A speech delivered by the late Mr.I.P.thurairatnam in 1984. Available in the web site. [9] ‘Golden Era - Union College Management Memoirs’ Kathir Balasundaram, p137. ISBN 0-9781836-2-2.

[10] ‘Golden Era - Union College Management Memoirs’ Kathir Balasundaram, p153. ISBN 0-9781836-2-2. The name of student is given. [11] ‘Golden Era - Union College Management Memoirs’ Kathir Balasundaram, p153, 154. ISBN 0-9781836-2-2. Names of students are given.

[12] ‘Golden Era - Union College Management Memoirs’ Kathir Balasundaram, p153. ISBN 0-9781836-2-2.

[13] Union College Special Souvenir. Published by Union College 2001. Title: jhapd; kzpf;nfhb p 4.

[14] Union College Prize Giving Report of 2005 p 49. Published by Union College. Names of students are given.GENERAL REFERENCES

21 Annals of the American Pulpit: Or, Commemorative Notices of Distinguished American Clergymen by William B Sprague. Published by Robert Carter & Brothers 1857

22 Embassy of Sri Lanka – Washington DC – USA

23 ‘Golden Era Union College Management Memoirs’. Kathir Balasundaram, published by the Union College Old Students Association, Canada Branch 2005.

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