The history of Ananda College Old Boys’ Association dates back to 1908. Sir Don Baron Jayatilleke, the then Principal foresaw the importance of forming an Association, comprising of past pupils of the College, with the foremost objective of becoming the island’s premier Buddhist school. The first reference of Ananda OBA appeared in “Ananda College Journal” published in 1914. At the inaugural meeting, the post of Secretary was held by M. C. Raju. Initially the OBA’s main function was to organise the sports-meet and the annual dinner. Messrs. J. P. C.Fernando, E. T .P. Senanayake and W. E. Fernando held the post of Secretary up to 1915. The first official dinner of the OBA was held on the 11th of August 1916 under the patronage of Mr. Harry Creasy at the Ananda College Olcott Hall (reference: page 126 of the magazine published in January 1917). There is sufficient evidence to prove that Messrs. D. C. Senanayake, A. B. Gunasekera, W. A. de Silva, F. R. Senanayake, C. Batuwantudawa and D. S. Senanyake graced the occasion, which was chaired by Principal, Fritz Kunze. There onwards, this annual dinner was often held at the college Hostel or in a Hotel.
Another tradition that was in practice during the early days was an annual cricket encounter between the present cricketers and the past cricketers, followed by a lunch hosted by the Principal.
Since its humble beginnings, the OBA has turned out to be a dominant and powerful outfit rendering a yeoman service to our Alma Mater, even amidst turbulent and difficult times. A noteworthy feature, hitherto unseen elsewhere, is the cordial manner in which the OBA and the school’s administration has worked together towards development of the College. One simply cannot name another school where so much of work has been done by a Past Students’ Association for the betterment of its Alma Mater.
Until it’s taking over by the Government in December 1961, the tradition was for the incumbent Principal to become the President of the OBA by virtue of him being Head of the school. 1961 hence, at its Annual General Meeting, membership of the OBA have opted to elect a fellow member as their President.
In the pre-1961 era Ananda was managed by the Buddhist Theosophical Society (BTS) and there have been times that the college had to undergo financial hardships whenever there were conflicts between the BTS and the schools Internal Management. In such chaotic situations it was the OBA which came to the forefront to shoulder the burden and to defuse friction.
Commencing with Sir D. B. Jayatilleke, who was the OBA’s inaugural President, the following eminent personalities held office at this prestigious post:
1.Principals, in chronological order namely, Messrs J.T.Davie,M.U.Moore,Fritz Kunz,C.V.Ranawaka,P.de.s.Kularatne,G.P.Malalasekera,L.H.Meththananda,S.de.S.Jayaratne,A.B.Perera,L.H.Meththananda and S.A.Wijethilake
2. Mr. D. W.Rajapathirana( 1960 to 1968): Governor – Central Bank of Sri Lanka
3. Mr. G. P. A. Silva ( 1968 to 1969): Chief Justice
4. Mr.Thomas Amarasuriya(1969 to 1970): Philanthropist cum President of the Senate
5. Prof. D. A. Ranasinghe (1971 to 1976):-Gynaecologist cum Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo
6. Mr.Warnasena Rasaputra (1976): Governor – Central Bank of Sri Lanka
7. Mr. M. B. J de Silva ( 1976 to 1979)
8. Mr.Ranapala Bodhinagoda (1979 to 1992)- Chairman of Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd
9. Dr.Pandu Liyanage (1992 to 1995): prominent Businessman
10. Mr. Chandra de Zoysa (1995 March): Educationist
11.Col.Parakrama Molligoda (1995/96 & 1998/99)
12. Dr.Ranjith Cabraal (1999/2000 & 2000/01): Human Resources Development Manager - Unilever Ceylon Ltd
13. Mr. Asoka de Z Gunasekera(2001/02 & 2002/03): Secretary - Ministry of Telecommunications
14. Mr.Sithendra Senaratne (2003/04 & 2004/05): A Company Director
15. Mr.N.G.Punchihewa (2005/06 & 2006/07): Secretary – Youth Services Ministry
16. Mr.Isuru Samarasinghe (2007/08 & 2008/9): Managing Director – Bartleet Ltd
17. Mr.Manju Fernando (2009/10): Mobitel(Pvt) Ltd
Mr.Ranapala Bodhinagoda held office for 13 consecutive years, until 1992. With the introduction of an amended constitution, the term of future Presidents was curtailed to a maximum of 2 years.
In 2008, a new Constitution was tabled at a special Emergency General Meeting and the same was adopted bringing in a lot of changes, widening the scope of the OBA and its affiliated bodies. Ananda OBA with the support of the students, Old Boys, well-wishers and of course the School Development Society (SDS) have been instrumental in completing several herculean projects, such as;
A. Construction of the Siyavasa Building, where Principal’s Office is housed
B. Construction of the College Swimming Pool, which was ofInternational standards, at a cost of over Rs.20 Million. This project was spearheaded by Old Anandian, Dr. H. S. Perera, the prominent Thoracic Surgeon.
C. Construction of the Principal’s bungalow
D. Construction of the Primary School Building
E. Renovation of the Olcott Hall with many amenities
F. Construction of the Cricket Pavillion & Grounds, after
Creating an atmosphere to acquire suitable land from
G. Renovation of the Hostel Building
College activities are divided amongst the following Sub-Committees of the OBA, which are headed by Senior members of the OBA.
1. Sub-Committee on Olcott Oration, Affiliated Groups, 125th Anniversary Celebration, co-ordination with state officials etc. – headed by Mr. Thilak Karunaratne (Acting President)
2. Sub-Committee on Communications to members ,Website, News Letter ,Media publicity for College and Association events headed by Mr. Anura Thillakeratne (Acting Deputy President)
3. Sub-Committee on Development and Management of the College Infrastructure, Development of the college laboratory facilities headed by Mr. Asoka Karunaratne (Vice President)
4. Sub-Committee on National Policies & Services, Buddhist education and Buddhist School Alumni coordination Career Guidance, employability of school levers, Teacher training workshops for teachers headed by Mr. Jayantha Wickramasinghe (Vice President)
5. Sub-Committee on Management and Development of Education, Scholarships, Book Donation, Affinity Credit Card, Religious Affairs, Vesak / Poson programs, relations with support service staff headed by Mr. Pani Ranwala (Vice President)
6. Sub-Committee on Service to Old Anandians’ Membership Drive, Commemoration of War Heroes, Special Events, Felicitations, Founders Day celebrations headed by Mr. Krishantha Alwis (Vice President)
7. Sub-Committee on Extra Curricular activities & Fund Raising Projects(Primary & Upper School Computer Laboratories/Mrs.Kodikara Fund, Projects Related to Primary English Programme) headed by Mr. Amila Kannangara (Vice President)
Plans are underway to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Ananda College in 2011 and the President Elect and Deputy President, Mr.Tilak Karunaratne will foresee arrangements of the celebrations.
The annual Olcott Oration, a glittering event, with the participation of a distinguished personality an Association, comprising of past pupils as a key note speakers is another highlight of the OBA calendar.