‘The Royal College’: Fostering Secular Values and Unity Amongst Its Students

As a former Head Prefect of ‘The Royal College’, I had the privilege of witnessing first the living traditions and values that dene this prestigious institution. While the school has recently faced criticism and administrative changes, one aspect remains constant: the unwavering commitment of Royalists to uphold secular values and promote unity among its diverse student body.

Despite much criticism as of late stating that Royal College has lost its secular values, I would like to raise the following argument. Royal College is made up of a living chain of students, which spans from six-year-old grade ones to all the way to Royalist in their eighth decade. It is this body which holds, transmits, and practices the values which are the school. These values remain secular. In this article, I will shed light on how Royal College instils secular values from a young age, uniting its students as Royalists and as proud Sri Lankans, transcending the boundaries of religion and race. A School of Secular Values ‘The Royal College’ has a long history of promoting secularism.

This commitment is deeply embedded in the school’s ethos and is reflected in the way students are educated and encouraged to respect all religions and beliefs. From a young age, students are nurtured to accept all Royalists as their brothers, regardless of religion or race. The diverse array of students that enter College is one of the defining factors that assist this practice. This foundation is what makes Royal a beacon of inclusivity in a diverse society like Sri Lanka.

Religious Diversity at its Best

One of the remarkable features of ‘The Royal College’ is the coexistence of students from various religious backgrounds. The student body is made up of students from all walks of life. Entrance for a student to Royal is not based on quotas to be filled with regard to religion.

All applicants are treated the same in this regard. This ensures that the school consists of a rather diverse student body. Further, the school houses multiple religious clubs and societies, providing students with the opportunity to explore and celebrate their faiths. What’s even more inspiring is that students of all races and religions actively participate in each other’s club activities, forming a strong sense of unity.

Harmonious Celebrations

The College calendar is filled with religious celebrations that are marked with a deep sense of inclusivity and respect. For example, during the annual Carol Service, students from different religious backgrounds come together to form the choir, creating a beautiful harmony of voices.

The same spirit of unity prevails during the annual Pirith Ceremony, Islamic Day, and the much-anticipated Vizhas organized by Hinduism-based clubs. These events exemplify how Royal transcends religious boundaries to create a strong sense of community. Additionally, the student leadership body, The Royal College Prefects’ Council, takes an active role in celebrating each religious ceremony that is celebrated by the State ensuring inclusivity of all students’ faiths, passing down an example to the younger students to follow.

The leadership of the Prefects’ Council is also diverse. The year preceding mine as Head Prefect the Senior Deputy Head Prefect was a Hindu, and the last year, the Head Prefect was a Hindu. Further many of the top board positions are held by those who are deserving, neither religion nor race are defining criteria to hold such positions within one’s schooling career. The sporting arena is another platform where the school showcases its commitment to secularism and unity.

Before major sporting encounters, such as the Royal Thomian Big Match, students receive blessings from leaders of all religious denominations. This tradition not only unites the team but also underscores the importance of sportsmanship over religious affiliations. In a time when divisive forces threaten to tear societies apart, ‘The Royal College’ stands as a beacon of hope, demonstrating that secularism, unity, and respect for diversity can thrive within an educational institution. The students of Royal College are not just Royalists; they are proud Sri Lankans who stand together as one, irrespective of their religion or race.

The values instilled in ‘The Royal College’s’ students are not confined within its walls but extend into the broader society. Royalists carry these principles with them throughout their lives, becoming ambassadors of unity and inclusivity. It is in this spirit that Royal continues to inspire and create a brighter, more harmonious Sri Lanka. I am proud to have been part of a community that places such a high value on secularism, unity, and diversity. Let us remember that it is the collective strength of our differences that truly makes us a united and great nation. ‘The Royal College’, in its own unique way, is a testament to this noble ideal.  If you are reading this, you are almost certainly a Royalist. It’s up to us, our attitude and behaviour, to shape our living traditions.

Kavisha Ratnayaka

Head Prefect 2021/2022

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