MCC UK
Methodist Central College UK OBA

Bicentenary of the Founding of the Methodist Central College, Batticaloa 

We are pleased to publish this article on the historic occasion of marking the bicentenary of the Methodist Central College, Batticaloa and the arrival of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries to Ceylon. The missionaries sailed to Ceylon from Portsmouth harbour in the United Kingdom on 30 December 1813 and alighted in Ceylon on 29 June 2014. They encountered several setbacks, including the death of the mission leader, Rev. Dr Thomas Coke, and Mrs Ault, wife of one of the missionaries, but their resilience, enthusiasm and determination as well as their faith in God enabled them to fulfil their goals. After their arrival in Ceylon, they progressively established more and more schools and churches which enhanced the education system of Ceylon. They commenced the missionary work by opening the door to education for all communities irrespective of caste or creed, promoted multi-cultural pluralism and founded the Methodist Central College, Batticaloa in 1814. This was a historic landmark which brings pride and honour to all the Centralites. 

The Centralities have been remembering their beloved Founder-Principal Rev. William Ault for almost two centuries in their hearts, but TODAY, on this historic occasion, we pay tribute to the renowned scholar for the hardships he endured, for his dedication and for the sacrifices he made for the accomplishment of this milestone on the island. In recognising and commemorating this historic event, the Government of Sri Lanka has approved the release of a new stamp this year.


Since the inception of this college in 1814, its profound achievements in the arenas of culture, education and religion have kept on flourishing on the island. In this context, the relentless and untiring efforts of the past principals and leaders of the Wesleyan Mission have played a major role in bringing fame and honour to this prestigious institution. 


Historic Background

The European domination of Sri Lanka from the beginning of the 16th century until the middle of the 20th century proved to be a profound influence on the political, cultural, educational, social, economic and religious activities of modern Sri Lankan society. The Portuguese occupation of Ceylon commenced in 1506 and lasted until 1658. Dutch rule followed and continued until 1802. Portuguese and Dutch occupation mostly focused on trade and religious activities with limited political freedom for the local communities. In contrast, the British rulers from 1796 to 1948 generally adopted a fairer and more liberal policy than their predecessors, which provided a distinct dimension and a sustainable base to the socio-economic and educational activities on the island. However, there were disadvantages in their policy of adopting a unified political structure in a pluralistic society with a centralised power structure. 

The British domination of the maritime region of Ceylon commenced in 1796 was brought under the control of the British in August 1797, Batticaloa in September 1797, Jaffna a few days later, and the cities Negombo and Colombo fell in February 1798 (Gunasingam, 2008). The whole nation was brought under British rule after the conquering of the Kandy region in 1815. Ceylon was initially administered by the British East India Company, and Lord Hobart, the governor of Madras, was responsible for the administration at that time. British interest in Ceylon stemmed from French control of the Netherlands in the Napoleonic Wars. The falling of the Netherlands to France resulted in the ceding of Ceylon to Britain. In 1802, in the treaty of Amiens, the maritime regions of Ceylon were ceded to Britain.


The arrival of the American and Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries in the early 19th century in Ceylon was the beginning of an Anglican education system in Ceylon. Although all the missionaries contributed to the educational reforms on the island, this article specifically focuses on the Wesleyan Methodist Mission’s contribution to the progressive revival and enhancement of the education system in Jaffna and Batticaloa (Tamil District). 

MCC, Batticaloa marks its bicentenary in 2014. In recognition of achieving this milestone the Government of Sri Lanka has proposed to release a new stamp in 2014. The Government also released a new stamp in 1989 when the college celebrated its 175th anniversary. The college closely resembles Jaffna Central College (JCC) in its culture, traditions and excellence. This stems from the fact that various past Principals of MCC also served at JCC. Above

all, both colleges have been administered by the North District or Tamil District Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries.


Historically, both colleges produced exceptionally talented academics, professionals, politicians and religious leaders on the island. Both schools are well known for promoting multicultural pluralism and offering opportunities to all communities, including under- privileged students. We congratulate MCC for achieving the honour of reaching its bicentenary in 2014 and wish wholeheartedly that it will preserve its traditions and culture forever. 

Past Principals and Old Boys of MCC 

Past Principals

The Methodist Central College had several prominent Principals who enhanced its status in the arenas of education and sports. In this context it is worth mentioning a few names: Rev. Dr J Kilner (1852–1855), Rev. E Rigg (1865–1870), Rev. J D Rhodes (1871–1872), Rev. E Martin (1872–1873), Rev. G J Trimmer (1877–1879), Rev. E M Weaver (1890–1891), Rev. W M P Wilkes (1901–1903), Rev. E T Selby (1907–1910), Rev. C A Smith (1935), Rev. C A Cartman (1939–942), Mr P G Casinadar (1975–1986), Mr A A Arulannarajah (1987–1994), K.G.Arulanantham (1994–2007), I.Kamalarajah (2007–2014) and P.Anandarajah (2014). All the above Principals, with the exception of the last six, served Jaffna Central College as Chairman or Manager or Principal. 


The Methodist Central College set an example in nurturing the education system to promote multi-cultural pluralism. The college has an abundance of talent and excels in the education of exceptionally talented professionals, politicians and religious leaders. One of its past Principals, Old Boy of MCC and former Member of Parliament, Mr P G Casinadar stated (Daily News, 2004) that the proud boast of this college is that it contributed 21 MPs to the nation, of which two were Cabinet Ministers. Among these 21 MPs were Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese. The former MP for Nuwara Eliya, P. P. Sumanatileke, also studied at this institution.


MCC’s traditions are further enhanced by producing exceptionally talented scientists, engineers, doctors, business entrepreneurs, sportsmen and other professionals who make their mark worldwide. 


Conclusion

MCC, Batticaloa marks its bicentenary in 2014. In recognition of achieving this milestone the Government of Sri Lanka has proposed to release a new stamp in 2014. The Government also released a new stamp in 1989 when the college celebrated its 175th anniversary. The college closely resembles Jaffna Central College (JCC) in its culture, traditions and excellence. This stems from the fact that various past Principals of MCC also served at JCC. Above

all, both colleges have been administered by the North District or Tamil District Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries.


Historically, both colleges produced exceptionally talented academics, professionals, politicians and religious leaders on the island. Both schools are well known for promoting multicultural pluralism and offering opportunities to all communities, including under- privileged students. We congratulate MCC for achieving the honour of reaching its bicentenary in 2014 and wish wholeheartedly that it will preserve its traditions and culture forever.