Bulletin 119 – 1982.05.22 – Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara

Stamp Bulletin No. 119

Ministry of Posts and


Lotus Road,

Colombo 1,

Sri Lanka.

May 22, 1982.

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications will issue today a commemorative stamp in the denomination of 50 cents in honour of the late Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara.

Christopher William Wijekoon Kannangara, popularly known as the Father of Free Education, was born on 13th October, 1884. After a brilliant career at Richmond College, he took to teaching, first in his ‘alma mater’ and later at Wesley College. He gave up teaching for law, setting up his practice in Galle in 1910. His involvement in the defence of martial law victims drew into the vortex of national politics.

Political opportunity came his way in 1923 when he won the by-election for the Southern Province seat in the Legislative Council, followed by victories at the General Elections of 1924 and 1928.

In the State Council he served as Minister of Education during a period of seventeen years, initiating extensive reforms among which were the abolition of the two-tiered school system with English for the privileged urban classes and vernacular for the rural masses. Introduction of the mother tongue as medium of instruction, reform of curriculum with a vocational and cultural bias, up-grading of Pirivena Education and inaugration of the University. Further he established a series of Central Schools modelled on Royal College, which took secondary education literally to the door-step of the rural child.

His crowning achievement was Free Education from Kindergarten to University which he described with pardonable pride as “The Pearl of Great Price” introduced in the teeth of bitter opposition from the socially and economically privileged groups.

Ironically, he suffered his first electoral defeat at the Parliamentary Elections of 1947 while at the pinnacle of his career. Undeterred he served as Sri Lanka’s first Envoy to Indonesia and returned to the political arena, entering the second Parliament in 1952. He was chosen to the portfolio of Local Government and Housing.

He retired from active politics in 1956 and passed away on 23rd September 1969, at the age of 85.

Philatelic Details

Date of Issue1982.05.22
Value50 cts
ColoursDark green
DesignerM. Katugampola
PrintersMezhdunarodnaia Kniga, Moscow, U.S.S.R.
Size30 x 42 mm
Printing ProcessOffset
Sheet Composition100 Stamps per sheet
Paper105 GM 2 Special Art Paper
GumTropical Gum
Quantity Printed1,000,000 Stamps

Official First Day Covers

The Philatelic Bureau will provide a specially designed First Day Cover and a First Day of Issue Postmark.


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