Our Journey

North Parramatta Sinhala School is celebrating its’ 25th anniversary this year with a large number of highly satisfied students, teachers volunteers and parents. Over the last 25 years, the Sinhala School has catered for over 3000 students. It is a great pleasure to see some of the students in the early days are now proud parents of young children, who are attending as enthusiastic students in Sinhala School.

1990 ඔක්තෝබර් මස 27 වැනි දින දරුවන් 38 දෙනෙකුගෙන් සමන්විතව උතුරු පැරමැටා සිංහල පාසැල අරම්භ විය.

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In this very important moment, it is appropriate to look back at the history of the Sinhala School to appreciate the contributions of the pioneers who took initial steps to form this wonderful institute.

The history goes back to year 1990, it was the 27th of October; the day the very first class was held at the Parramatta North Public School. There were 38 students in total and they were assessed and grouped into four classes under the auspice of the Sinhalese Cultural Forum of NSW. Our first group of teachers were Mr. Don Wickrama, Mrs. Chithra Sandanayake, Mr.G.MAriyapala, and Mrs.BhadraWickrama.

The history of North Parramatta Sinhala School very closely linked with the initiation of Sinhalese Cultural Forum which was established in the same year, under the leadership of Mr. SomarathnaDissnayake. Teaching Sinhala language was one of the main objectives of the Cultural Forum and it was well supported all throughout the years. In the early days, the Cultural Forum took a greater part of organising the fortnightly classes and handled all administrative matters. Within a span of two years, two other Sinhala Language Schools were established in Sydney, one in Eastlakes and the other in Campsie.

Having identified the need for better autonomy and a self managing model for Sinhala Schools, in 1993 the Forum appointed a committee to review operations of Sinhala School in an autonomous and self supported manner. As a result of the recommendations of this committee, a Parent Teacher Management Committee was established to manage each Sinhala Language School.

While the management front is getting organised under SCF, teaching program in Sinhala schools was improving as well. Teachers and parents identified the need for active learning techniques to enrich the Sinhala language teaching program. As a result, the fist school concert was organised in 1993 by North Parramatta Sinhala School. This was held in Parramatta Public School and students in North Parramatta Sinhala School performed in the concert.

The School concert was one of the major achievements and soon the first combined School concert was held in Auburn Town Centre in the following year. The concert was a great success, with the participation of students from three Sinhala schools it was a major step not only for the Sinhala Language Teaching program, but also for the inception of many other cultural events such as Bak Maha Rangana. The concert proved the strength of our community and the ability to organise events in a multicultural environment. Items presented in this concert were subsequently performed in Sydney festival etc. Today we are in 2015, celebrating the 25th anniversary, and we have number of well organised dancing groups, where our children actively learn Sri Lankan dancing. There is no doubt that the very first step towards creating this much of an interest was the Sinhala School Concert. It didn’t take much longer to reach the next step for the school concert, in 1994 the combined school concert was held in the Hills Centre in Castel Hill. As the community grew up with children becoming young adults, it was a natural progression to develop this concept to a major cultural event like Bak Maha Rangana in 2002.

In the Sinhalese Cultural Landscape in Sydney, Sinhala schools have played a major role in participation and promoting Sinhalese culture among Sri Lankans as well as the wider Australian community.

To fulfil the needs of expanding activities of Sinhala Schools, the need for formal review process was identified by the organisers. As a result of that, the first language teaching workshop was organised by the Sinhalese Cultural Forum in 1993. This workshop was held in Thornleigh Community Centre and number of areas was identified to be addressed. Among those areas were the need for formally developed syllabus, text books, and proper assessment criteria for students.

 1993 දී විෂයමාලාවක් සකස් කොට එය ගුරුවරුන්ට හඳුන්වාදීම සඳහා ප්‍රථම වැඩමුලූව Sydny නුවර Thornleigh හීදී පැවැත්වින.

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It was the year 1993 where the Sinhalese Cultural Forum was incorporated under the Association Incorporation Act, and the Sinhalese Language Teaching Program was duly recognised as a subcommittee of the Forum.

In the year 1994 Sinhala Language Teaching Program marked a significant milestone. The Ethnic Schools Board of New South Wales government recognised the program as community language teaching program and received the first grant of $7000 to promote its activities. In addition to teaching Sinhala Language, music, dancing and communication skills were included in the teaching curriculum and they became part of key learning areas in Sinhala Schools. From this year Sinhala schools received the grant from the government to make the program more sustainable.

1994 දී ජනවාර්ගික පාසැල් මණ්ඩලයේ අනුමැතිය ලැබීම.

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During the period 1994 to 2000, all Sinhalese Schools became more organised and managed by appointed management committees. Each School maintained proper records of accounts, attendance, assessments and extracurricular activities to improve the quality of Sinhala Language teaching. All accounts were formally audited and submitted to Sinhalese Cultural Forum.

Being the leading Sinhala School, North Parramatta Sinhala School (NPSS) made a significant contribution by assisting to prepare systematic procedures and guidelines for the selection of students for the ”Minster’s Awards For Excellence in Student Achievements” and Sinhala School Concert. These procedures and guidelines greatly improved transparency and assisted smooth functioning of the school.

Student numbers were steady and classes were well attended. Support and recognition from wider community was encouraging. Another important achievement in this period was receiving the Ministers Award for achievements of our students in an impressive manner. Every year our students received the full minister’s award and many highly commended recognition consistently. The selection criteria for nominating students for the minister’s award were duly followed by all Sinhala Schools.

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Although the daily activities of Sinhala schools were steadily progressing, in year 2001, a major concern was raised by the management committee of Sinhalese Cultural Forum in relation to the operating structure of all schools. The concern was about the fact that all school management committees were operating as independent bodies and they were not duly recognised under SCF pr any incorporated institution. As a result, all the members in management committees were not duly covered for insurance for their activities as volunteers. Numerous discussions and differences in opinions were there about the matter and finally the issue was resolved by formally recognising each school management committee as part of Sinhalese cultural forum. The presidents of each management committee were appointed as a member of the management committee of Sinhalese Cultural from in 2003.

In 2004 NSW Community Language School Program (NSWCLSP) of Department of Education introduced revised K-10 curriculum framework for all Community Language Schools. Use of new syllabus was made compulsory for school funding by the government. NPSS took the leadership for preparing new textbooks based on new curriculum and held a workshop with teachers in 2006. A complete series of text books were developed.

මේ අතර ඔස්ට්‍රේලියාවේ පලකරන ලද මුල්ම සිංහල ළමා සගරාව ලෙස 'මල්කැකුළු' සඟරාව ප්‍රකාශයට පත්කිරීම උතුරු පැරමැටා සිංහල පාසල මෙම වකවානුවේ ලැබූ අද්විතීය ජයග්‍රහනයකි.

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Publication of First Sinhala Children’s Magazine “MALKEKULU” in Australia was another important achievement of the students of North Parramatta Sinhala School in this period.

Initiation of School alumni in 2015 was another significant milestone in the history of North Parramatta Sinhala School.
In subsequent years North Parramatta Sinhala Scholl continued the language teaching program with improved standards. The management committees continued to adhere to well established process and teaching staff offered their cooperation to deliver teaching program according to well developed curriculum. Reprinting text books, following guidelines of Ethnic Language Teaching board of NSW, Organising Biennial combined School Concert, conducting Annual General Meeting and formally appointing management committees were continued with guidance of the Education Subcommittee of Sinhalese Cultural Forum.

It must be appreciated the immense support given by the Education Subcommittee of the Sinhalese Cultural Forum, all throughout the years to bring the school to the current state.

In addition to formal teaching, the management committee took necessary steps to provide opportunities for students to participate in various multicultural events organised by the Sinhalese Cultural Forum and various multicultural organisations in New South Wales.

Also the enthusiasm and contributions from parents were commendable. As a result of many fundraising activities organised by the management committee, and with the tremendous support from parents, the School fund has been gained a significant increase during the recent past.
The most important achievement out of all the above efforts is, continuously improving student numbers and enthusiastic participation of students in North Parramatta Sinhala School. That would be the best indicator for our success.

After a long journey of 25 years, North Parramatta Sinhala School has developed in to a well established institute and its operations are managed at a very high professional standard. Participation from parents and members of the wider community is consistently maintained, and it has been in the centre of attention in all cultural activities in Siri Lankan community.

North Parramatta Sinhala School is not only a language teaching institute, but also a centre where newly arrived Sri Lankans find the opportunity to integrate with the Sinhalese Community in Sydney. It provides opportunities to participate and contribute to the society in many different ways, such as organising school events, voluntary work and various cultural activities. Also the members of our community find this as an excellent opportunity to develop and showcase their leadership skills and in other culturally relevant areas such as music, dancing and voluntary work.

Therefore the North Parramatta Sinhala Schools together with the other sister schools have contributed to Sri Lankan community in New South Wales to prosper and to be recognised as a one of the most successful ethnic groups in Australia as a well recognised group of responsible citizens.

We wish all the very best for a bright future for Sinhala School and believe the highly valuable community service delivered by this noble institute will be continued and further enhanced in time to come.

Written By: DayanthaJayrathna
Supported By: Mahinda Karunaratne, Prof. Athula Ginige

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