Sri Lanka School Stamps

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Education in Sri Lanka is a big deal. We have a very high literacy rate, said to be the highest in South Asia and one of the highest when comparing across the whole of Asia. I can’t help wonder though, could this at least partly be a result of, or due to the booming education industry? The government’s free education system is great in theory but there is also a glut of privately run schools, institutes and universities and not all of them deliver. Just to give you some context, our Sunday newspapers often carry TWO multi page educational supplements!

Schools in particular also seem to generate a certain amount of class divide. Of all the things we could have picked up from our British ex-overlords, is the status we seem to confer on those who went to a “good” school. Admittedly, I have not been completely immune to this phenomenon because I still have the occasional fantasy about reading English at Oxford but, that’s a subject for a different post. The number of times I have been asked what school I went to within the first 5 minutes of me meeting someone, well, it’s enough to make my blood boil. And I did attend one of these so called “good” schools – a private convent for girls in fact. Anyone listening to me swear in the vernacular would be hard pressed to imagine that I ever spent any time there.

Allegedly the "best" boys school in Sri Lanka

It all started with this 1985 stamp from Royal College – allegedly the “best” public boys school in Sri Lanka

So my complaint for today is that Sri Lanka appears to issue a hell of a lot of “school” stamps. Usually celebrating a centenary or some sort of anniversary, they are often poorly designed and rarely attractive (they almost always feature the physical school building) and honestly, you can’t imagine anyone except the students and teachers of the school in question actually wanting to buy these useless pieces of paper. How many stamps of mediocre buildings are you willing to collect anyway? Are these meant to encourage school children into philately somehow? Do other countries also issue such a large number of school themed stamps?

“Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors on national taste”
W. B. Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet, playwright

Now that I’m done complaining (for now) here’s a year by year listing of every single school stamp issued todate with links to their pages on colnect (an online stamp catalogue). Note the utterly shocking years of 1994 and 2001 all of which issued FOUR school stamps each. 

1985
The trend setter, Royal College got two stamps in 1985 to mark their 150th anniversary (stamp 1 and stamp 2).

Elephant---Royal-College

To be fair, this one is simple, attractive and serves its purpose.

1986
Not to be outdone, Ananda College issued FOUR stamps to mark their centenary in 1986 (stamp 1, stamp 2stamp 3 and stamp 4).

1992
Six years passed until someone realised the deep, yearning need in the world of philately for more school themed stamps from Sri Lanka. Al-Bahjathul Ibraheemiyyah Arabic College (stamp marking 100 years) and Newstead College (stamp marking 175 years) stepped up to the plate.

newstead

I suppose the effort taken to design this in a weird book format should be applauded?

1993
The very next year Colombo based schools, Zahira and Museaus got into the action with a stamp each (Zahira stamp and Musaeus stamp).

1994
A truly glorious year for school themed stamps – Richmond College (Galle), Trinity CollegeSt Thomas’ College (Matara) and St Joseph’s College (Trincomalee) all got a stamp each to commemorate their various anniversaries. The Richmond and Trinity stamps actually commemorated their Old Boys Associations (OBAs) and not the school specifically but I counted them in my list.

I might be a tad biased because I like crests and duh, Sanga

I might be a tad biased because I like crests and duh, Sanga

1995
This year saw two more schools featured on stamps: St Aloysius College (Galle) and St Joseph’s College (Colombo) were the proud participants in 1995.

1996
Now its been five straight years of regular school stamp issues. 1996 saw three school stamps from Chundikuli Girls College (Jaffna), Jaffna Central College and Vincent Girl’s High School (Batticaloa).

I don't quite know what to make of this one

I don’t quite know what to make of this one

1997
Thankfully, 1997 only saw one school stamp: St Servatius College (Matara).

1998
In 1998, Sri Jayawardenapura Vidyalaya (Kotte) and St John’s College (Jaffna) each celebrated 175 years with stamps.

2000
Why was 1999 skipped when they were on such a roll? All I know is that the year 2000 was when we saw the next set of school stamps with St Patrick’s College (Jaffna), Ladies College and Wesley College coming to the rescue.

wesley

Wesley was obviously trying to do something different with the people holding hands around a globe but I remain unimpressed

2001
And again we have a four school stamp year. The culprits are Prince and Princess of Wales College (Moratuwa), Bishop’s CollegeSt Thomas’ College and St Lawrence School (Wellawatta).

2002
Three schools were featured: Kopay Christian CollegeSt Bridget’s Convent and Holy Cross College (Kalutara).

2003
Keeping the proud Sri Lankan philatelic tradition going, 2003 saw two school themed stamps with Holy Family Convent (Bambalapitiya) and G/Gonapinuwala Saralankara College

I love how they chose the school's iconic stained glass window instead of the usual boring buildings and crests

I appreciate how they chose the school’s iconic stained glass chapel window instead of the usual boring buildings and crests

2004
Two more this year with Chavakachcheri Hindu College and St Anthony’s College (Kandy) joining our merry (not) band of school stamps.

2007
After a three year break, Sri Lanka’s Philatelic Bureau came back strong with three school stamps in 2007. The schools featured were Sri Sangamitta Balika School (Matale), K/Jabbar Central College (Galagedera) and St Henry’s College (Ilavalai).

2008
Only one this year – St Mary’s Convent (Matara).

2009
Sivali Central College (Ratnapura) and Sri Sumangala College (Panadura) marked 100 years and Hameed Al_Husseinie College marked 125 years.

2010
2010 saw three more school stamps with one each for Thurstan CollegeKokuvil Hindu College and that shameless whore, Royal College who already had 2 stamps from 1985 taking their overall total to 3. However, the Ananda College four stamp haul of 1986 still takes the lead with regards to most number of stamps featuring a particular school.

2011
Southlands College (Galle) and Radampala Sri Sumangala Central College got a stamp each in 2011.

2013
We appear to have skipped 2012 and gone straight on to 2013 for two school themed stamps: Dharmasoka College (Ambalangoda) and Christ Church Girls College (Baddegama).

2014
Once more unto the breach with Carey College.

Carey-College

At least use some decent typography?

2015
So far nothing. I live in hope.

Please note that I have excluded general educational themes, seminaries, pirivenas, universities, inter school cricket matches and so forth so this is only a selection of stamps that directly feature a particular school.

Since this topic was so fascinating, it is likely that I swooned in awe and missed a few stamps here and there, so please let me know if you find any omissions or errors in the above list.

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