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Mr N Theivendrarajah, Zonal Director of Education Jaffna visits St. John’s College

Students gathered in groups for the Spoken English Environment Programme on 18.02.2016 as they usually did at 7:50 a.m. every day. They were in the middle of conversations when Mr N Theivendrarajah, Zonal Director of Education, Jaffna, walked in with the Principal of the College. He was on a special visit to St. John’s – he wanted to be at St. John’s from morning till afternoon observing everything beginning from the Spoken English Environment and ending with the tintinnabulation of the last bell.

After observing how the Spoken English Environment was conducted, he was taken to the pavilion where the students from the Junior Secondary had gathered.
Some of them were excited. It was going to be one of the most important and memorable days in their lives. It was the day they were about to be promoted to the position of a monitor. They were determined to do their best in carrying out their duties, to be truthful and just in whatever they do, to look into the well-being of their school and to lead by example. The fact that they were recognised as Prefects by the Principal of the College in the presence of the Director of Education himself made them swell with pride. Principal to address the gathering. The Principal said:

  • Though all were eligible, only a few have been selected to be monitors.
  • It was the monitors’ responsibility to ensure discipline.
  • The monitors are to be of assistance to the Principal, Vice Principals, Supervisors, Sectional Heads and teachers.
  • The students are to obey the monitors as they represent the administrators of the school.
  • In the event students feel that the monitors are not being fair, they can report to the teachers, Sectional Heads, Supervisors, Vice Principals or to himself.
  • The Prefect System has been in place for more than a century in St. John’s College. Gradually prefects were elected from every section.
  • The monitors should act with love and be disciplined - they should set an example to the other students to follow.
  • The monitors should maintain pindrop silence in the Peto Memorial Hall. They should sit on either ends of the bench and take note of all the students who misbehave.
  • The monitors should be involved in all the activities of the school including the extra-curricular activities (especially Scouting as this year marks the centennial in Scouting at St. John’s).

Next, the Principal invited Mr N Theivendrarajah to say a few words.

The Zonal Director of Education, Jaffna said:

  • He was grateful to be a part of the investiture ceremony.
  • He wished he had got an opportunity to visit St.John’s during his tenure as a Principal.
  • Prefects were leaders and should therefore be role models.
  • On the one hand, prefects should lead but on the other hand they should be willing to serve.
  • Education makes doctors and engineers but only discipline can make a man.
  • Discipline is very important. It is not difficult to discipline oneself.
  • Rules and regulations exist in all establishments but only some follow them. St. John’s is one among them and he proud of all at St. John’s.

Students in the Primary School too were sworn in as montiors on this day.Since the introduction of the Prefect System at St. John’s College in 1909, the Prefects and Monitors have been playing an important role in keeping the College in the forefront of education – by ensuring that discipline prevails…

Following the swearing in of the monitors, the Director of Education and his team went to the Advanced Level section to evaluate how the teaching and learning process has taken place and is taking place at St. John’s.
Towards the end of the school, the Director was shown the Scout Exhibtion.

The Director was greatly impressed by the efforts the students and teachers had taken to bring together so much information on scouting into one room.

Next was a meeting of the teachers, in-service advisors and the Director of Education in the auditorium. The latter had the following to say:

  • The main reason for the team supervision was to observe the Spoken English Environment Programme at St. John’s College – to get an idea on how it could be implemented in selected government schools.
  • St. John’s was a model.
  • Everything about St. John’s was good except for the fact that it was a fee levying school. This deprives the students who are not well-to-do the chance of studying at St. John’s.
  • At St. John’s talented teachers taught weak students. It should be the other way around. Talented teachers like Mr.Thinesh should teach gifted children and teachers who are yet to prove their capabilities should ideally be assigned to teach the weaker classes.
  • An effective teaching environment could be seen in the Science Lab.
  • It is heartening to note that St. John’s gives importance to e-learning and second language education.
  • Everyone knows that English is an international language which one should master to survive. It is also important to learn the second language in Sri Lanka. Knowing the second language will increase one’s market value and make him or her more employable.
  • We focus more on education whereas St. John’s focuses on everything – there are many clubs and assocociations and sports and games at St. John’s. These distract students from going astray. Keeping children occupied is important because as the saying goes, ‘An idle mind is a devil’s workshop.’ St. John’s does just that. You are doing very well.
  • Attitude and character gives value to a person. Can easily change the attitude of a student in the years he is at school.
  • Absenteeism is a problem that should be dealt with strictly. They get absent and present deceitful excuses. They begin by cheating at school and later on cheat their spouses after marriage. The problems of cheating and lying – they should be nipped in the bud.
  • I recommend Jaffna Hindu College and St. John’s College to parents who seek my advice on which school they should seek admission for their children in.
  • Parents want their children to study in a school which makes them disciplined. And discipline is here at St. John’s.
  • The Principal in his speech said that though all were eligible to become monitors, only twenty have been selected to this post. This is positive reinforcement.
  • Students are not dumb or stupid. If they get poor grades, it is because of some other thing that they or the teachers are doing wrong.
  • All the excercises and activities must be marked and signed by the teacher. They are indicators of the students’ and teachers’ performance.

He pointed to Alexandra Ruark from USA who was teaching at St. John’s under the Fulbright Scholarship Programme, and said, ‘ Look at how nicely she is wearing the sari. She is a model for all the other lady teachers to follow.’

Finally, he ended his speech thus:

‘You are doing an excellent job. You are doing what we expect. You are maintaining very high discipline. You have a great principal. One day he will be remembered by future generations in the same way the long list of past prncipals are remembered now. Thank you so much.

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