Sri Lanka is one of the countries with the highest literacy rate in the South Asian region. Sri Lanka is also one of the countries which provide free education at primary, secondary, and university levels. Furthermore, education is compulsory for kids between the ages of 5 to 16. Hence, this country has gained the reputation of having an education system of the highest quality. According to the records of the Ministry of Education, there are 10,612 government schools in Sri Lanka. Besides, there are semi-government, international, and private schools in this country as well. Among them, there are a few leading schools in Sri Lanka, mainly around the urban areas of the country.
These schools have earned the reputation of being the best in the country because of the facilities, quality of education and sports, high number of students and teachers, history, etc. Keep reading to know more about the leading schools in Sri Lanka!
What are the Leading Schools in Sri Lanka?
Some of the leading schools in Sri Lanka are as follows.
- Royal College
- Ananda College
- Nalanda College
- D. S. Senanayake College
- Visakha Vidyalaya
- Devi Balika Vidyalaya
- Musaeus College
- Dharmaraja College
- Kingswood College
- Trinity College
- Mahamaya Girls’ School
- Girls’ High School
- Pushpadana Girls’ School
- Richmond College
- Mahinda Galle
- Ferguson High School
- Maliyadeva College
The section below specifies the leading schools in various main cities of the country.
Leading Schools in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Since Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, the highest number of the leading schools in Sri Lanka are located in this city limit. They are as follows.
1. Royal College
Royal College in Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo is one of the most popular boys’ schools in the country. It is also the first public school in Sri Lanka.
It was first established as a private school in 1835 by Rev. Joseph Marsh. Further, it started off as the Colombo Academy and was the first government-run secondary school for boys in Sri Lanka.
Royal College has gained much reputation by producing many distinguished alumni such as presidents of two countries, a sultan, and four prime ministers. There are three sections in the college primary school, middle school, and upper school. Moreover, there are over 9100 students currently studying at the Royal College. However, it is very difficult to get admission to the college as there’s high competition.
The motto of the college is ‘Disce aut Discede’. The students of the Royal College go by the name ‘Royalists’.
2. Ananda College
Ananda College is one of the most prominent boys’ schools in the country. Its history dates back to the 1st of November 1886, and the Buddhist Theosophical society with the guidance of Colonel Henry Steel Olcott took the lead in establishing this school. Moreover, the Sri Lankan Buddhist renaissance which took place in the late 19th century had a huge impact on the establishment of the Ananda College.
This prominent institution stands in its glory as the leading Buddhist Boys’ College in Sri Lanka. Currently, more than 8000 students are receiving their education at Ananda College. Further, the notable alumni of the college include a president, a prime minister, many parliament ministers, and military servicemen.
Ananda Viharaya is the heart of the college. Besides, one of the oldest traditions of the school is the ‘Battle of the Maroons’ which is a cricket contest held with Nalanda College, dating back to 1924.
3. Nalanda College
Nalanda College also ranks top among the Buddhist boys’ schools in Sri Lanka. It came up as a part of Ananda College, and later on 1st November 1925, Ananda College got registered as a separate school. Accordingly, the part that came up later under Ananda College, which got its name as Nalanda College started running as a separate education institution.
At present, this school serves thousands of students covering classes from grades 1 to 13. Besides, the school has produced many great personalities including politicians, scientists, sportsmen, and many other reputed professionals.
The motto of the school is ‘Apadana Sobhini Panna’ meaning ‘wisdom beautifies character’.
4. D.S. Senanayake College
This is another leading boys’ school in Colombo as it is one of the largest multi-ethnic schools in the country. Its history dates back to 1967 and it got its name after the first prime minister of the country, Sir D.S. Senanayake. Besides, the founding principal of the school is R.I.T. Alles. D.S. Senanayake College is in Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo.
The school provides education from grades 1 to 13 for over 6000 students and the teaching staff is about 300. Further, the hostel at the school premises provides accommodation for 200 students. The notable alumni of the college include several parliament ministers, international cricket players, and military servicemen. The motto of the D.S. Senanayake College is ‘country before self’. The multi-ethnic and trilingual national school has shown flying colors in the academic and sports sectors.
5. Visakha Vidyalaya
Visakha Vidyala is one of the reputed Buddhist Girls’ Colleges in Sri Lanka. It was first established at a house called ‘The Firs’ at Turret road, Colombo. That was under the name of ‘Buddhist Girls’ College’. Now the college is at Vajira road, Colombo. It moved to its current premises in 1927.
The founder of the school is Celestina Dias and her objective was to provide education to Sri Lankan girls with Buddhist morals and values. Visakha Vidyalaya is the first national girls’ college in the country. Further, the motto of the school is ‘by wisdom is one cleansed’.
There are over 6000 girls studying at the Visakha Vidyalaya now with a teaching staff of over 300. Besides, the notable alumni of the school include ministers of the parliament, academics, actresses and sportswomen, etc. The trilingual college has grades from 1 to 13.
6. Devi Balika Vidyalaya
This is another famous girls’ college in Colombo. It started as Government Girls’ College in 1953 at Castle street. The founding principal of the school is the educationist, Dr. Wimala Silva.
Students can get admission to the school in grade 6 according to the results of the Grade 5 scholarship examination. Accordingly, there are classes from grades 6 to 13 in Devi Balika Vidyalaya. The motto of the school is ‘Great are those who are serene in mind’.
The notable alumni of the school include a first lady of Sri Lanka, diplomats, other educationists, and many other reputed professionals. And yes, Devi Balika Vidyalaya is famous for its academic excellence along with many other extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. Currently, there are over 3500 girls studying at the school. This national girls’ school is now one of the leading Buddhist Girls’ colleges in Sri Lanka.
7. Musaeus College
Musaeus College is a private Buddhist girls’ college in Colombo. It was established in 1891 and the founding principal of the school is Mrs. Marie Musaeus Higgins. And yes, the school got its name after the founding principal.
Musaeus College is located in the Cinnamon Gardens of Colombo. As a private academic institution, the college is run by a trust board as a non-profit organization. The motto of the school is ‘follow the light’. There are classes from the nursery section to grade 13 providing education in both English and Sinhala medium. As of now, there are over 6700 students and a teaching staff of 300 at the school.
This school is famous for its extensive facilities for academic and extracurricular activities. However, the objective of this school is the intellectual formation of students along with Buddhist values and traditions. Besides, the notable alumni of the college include many dignitaries, educationists, actresses, socialists, and many other reputed professionals.
Leading Schools in Kandy
Kandy is the capital of the central part of Sri Lanka. Hence, it is also one of the main cities in Sri Lanka, and there are quite a number of leading schools in this city.
8. Dharmaraja College
This is a premier Buddhist Boys’ college situated in Kandy. It was established in 1887 as the Kandy Buddhist High School by Sir Henry Steel Olcott. Kandyan nobles such as Dullawe Adhikaram, Wadugodapitiya Punchirala Korale, T.B. Panabokke, and A.D.J. Gunawardena also pioneered the establishment of Dharmaraja College.
At present, there are over 4000 students and about 200 staff members at the school. The motto of the school is ‘Oneself is the refuge for one’. The most notable alumni of the college include many important personalities, especially, Sir William Goappalwa, the first president of Sri Lanka.
Dharmaraja College is situated very close to the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. Sports play a major role in the college and it is also identified as one of the first schools in the country to play cricket. Besides, the college has a unique anthem with only 20 words.
9. Kingswood College
Kingswood College is another famous boys’ school in Kandy, and Louis Edmund Blaze founded it in 1891. The school started with only 11 students at a site on Pavillion street in Kandy. Later, it moved to Randles Hill. Now, as one of the oldest schools in Kandy, it has over 3500 students and 200 staff members.
It was first established as a Methodist missionary school but now there are students from every ethnicity studying at the college. There are classes from grades 1 to 13 at Kingswood College.
Their motto is ‘by faith and valor’. The term ‘gentlemen of Kingswood’ is used to refer to the students of the college. It is one of the first schools in the country to start playing Rugby. Apart from that, the school is also famous for its solid and elegant buildings that show methodist architectural features.
10. Trinity College
Trinity College is a reputed private boys’ school in Kandy. The British Anglican missionaries of the Church Missionary Society founded the college in 1872. It was modeled according to the British public school tradition. The founder of Trinity College is Rev. John Ireland Jones.
The motto of the school is ‘look to the end’. Besides, this elite educational institute in Kandy is famous for its academic and sports excellence. Although it is an independent private school, it has evolved into the level of a national school due to its quality of education. With its Christian roots, Trinity College operates as a multi-religious and multi-ethnic school.
There are many notable personalities who studied at Trinity College including the most popular Sri Lankan cricketer, Kumar Sangakkara. At present, there are over 3500 students studying at the college.
11. Mahamaya Girls’ College
Mahamaya Girls’ College is a prominent Buddhist Girls’ College in Kandy. It is situated in a very picturesque location overlooking Kandy lake.
It was established in 1932. The founders of the college are Lady Sarah Soyza and Chitra Ratwatte of the Sadachara Kulagana Samithiya. Besides, the school was first established in the West Cliffe Bungalow which belonged to Anagarika Dharmapala.
Further, the school was first named the Buddhist Girls’ College. Later it got the name ‘Mahamaya’ commemorating Queen Mahamaya, the mother of Lord Buddha. The motto of the college is ‘Knowledge is supreme’. Moreover, the vision and mission of the school are incorporated with the values of Theravada Buddhism.
The school consists of two main sections namely, primary school and secondary school. There are many important personalities among the alumni of the college. Besides, the students of Mahamaya are well known for their excellence in the academic and extra-curricular fields.
12. Girls’ High School
This is a popular national girls’ school in Kandy. It is one of the oldest girls’ schools in this city, and Wesleyan Methodist missionaries founded it in 1879. To be specific, the founder of the school is Samuel Langdon of the Methodist church of Great Britain.
The motto of the school is ‘Our help cometh from the Lord’. There are classes from grades 1 to 13 at the school and over 6000 girls are currently studying there. Even though it is a Methodist college, the students of the college comprise students from every ethnicity.
Over time, the Girls’ High School has evolved to be one of the most prominent girls’ schools in the country. Girls’ High School is also famous for its excellence in sports, especially in chess, volleyball, and netball. Besides, the school has produced several notable alumni including writers, educationists, dignitaries, sportswomen, and actresses.
13. Pushpadana Girls’ College
This is another leading girls’ school in Kandy. The Sri Pushpadana Samithiya was established in 1942 in a small building in Kandy. Moreover, Mrs. Cholera Dias Wijetilleke was the founding principal of Pushpadana College. The main objective behind the establishment of this school was to provide English education to Buddhist girls. The motto of the school is ‘Wisdom shines through character’.
Students get admission to this school from grade 6 onwards according to the results of the grade 5 scholarship examination. Hence, there are classes from grades 6 to 13 and over 2000 students are studying at Pushpadana College with a teaching staff of 130.
The education system of the school is highly incorporated with the values of Theravada Buddhism. Pushpadana Girls’ College has also produced many notable alumni including academics, actresses, and other dignitaries. Besides, it has now gained the reputation of being one of the best girls’ schools in Kandy.
Leading Schools in Galle Sri Lanka
Most of the leading schools in southern Sri Lanka are located in the Galle area. They are as follows.
14. Richmond College
This is a popular boys’ school in Galle, and its history dates back to 1876. It was first established as the Galle High School in 1876. The founder of the school is the Wesleyan missionary Rev. George Baugh and the founding principal is Rev. Samuel Langdon. Besides, this is the first Wesleyan Methodist school that was established in the Asian region.
The motto of Richmond College is ‘Without the Lord, everything is in vain’. At present, there are classes from grades 1 to 13 in this government public school. Meanwhile, there are over 6000 boys currently studying there.
Besides, it is one of the first schools in Sri Lanka that started to teach agriculture as a subject. Moreover, Richmond College holds one of the longest cricket match series in Sri Lanka with Mahinda College.
This school has also provided education to many notable personalities of the country, especially several international cricket players.
15. Mahinda College
This is another famous Buddhist Boys’ college, and Sir Henry Steel Olcott founded it. This school is in Galle., and its history dates back to 1892. The Buddhist theosophical society took the lead in establishing this school. Hence, it is one of the oldest Buddhist institutions in the country.
The school received its name from Arahat Mahinda, the reverend thero who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka. The motto of Mahinda College is ‘Strive hard and be wise’.
Now, there are classes from grades 1 to 13 in the school and over 5000 boys are studying there. The teaching staff consists of over 150 members. The student body of the school has five main sections namely, primary, junior, secondary, senior secondary, and collegiate.
There is a dynamic list of old Mahindians including politicians, sportsmen, educationists, and Buddhist monks. Besides, Mahinda College engages in the cricket match series, ‘the lovers’ quarrel’ along with Richmond College.
Leading Schools in Other Areas
Even though there are not that many leading schools in other areas of the country, there are quite a few that belong to this category. Among them are Ferguson High School, and Maliyadeva College.
16. Ferguson High School – Ratnapura
This is a popular national girls’ school in the Ratnapura district. This school has affiliations with the Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya. The school started off with just 3 students at the Baptist church in Ratnapura in 1917. Further, it got its name after Mr. John Ferguson who helped the Baptist missionary society in Sri Lanka.
The motto of the Ferguson High School is ‘Live pure, speak true, right wrong’. There are classes from grades 1 to 13 at the college. Even though this is a girls’ school, boys can enter the primary section of this school. Now, there are over 4700 students studying at Ferguson High School.
This college is famous for its excellence in sports such as athletics, chess, table tennis, and taekwondo. Besides, the school has an impressive list of old alumni including the first female prime minister of the country, Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
17. Maliyadeva College – Kurunegala
This is a national boys’ school in Kurunegala. Besides, it is one of the oldest schools in the country.
Colonel Henry Steel Olcott established this school in 1888 with the support of the Buddhist Theosophical society. The motto of the Maliyadeva College is ‘Science is the jewel of man’.
One of the specific features of this college is that a Buddhist temple is there inside the college. Moreover, the school is famous for its wide range of facilities for academic and extra-curricular purposes. There are over 5000 students studying at Maliyadeva College for classes from grades 1 to 13 at present. The students of the college call themselves the ‘Devans’.
The notable alumni of the college include many notable personalities of the country including politicians, artists, sportsmen, etc. There is also a Maliyadeva Girls’ College in this area.
The Bottom Line
These are some of the most famous schools in the major towns of Sri Lanka. There is always a huge competition to get into these schools. Apart from that, there are several other reputed schools throughout this country. However, many take great pride in entering these schools as they are well-known school names in Sri Lanka. It is more like a privilege to get into a leading school in Sri Lanka and not everyone is fortunate to get the opportunity. However, it is important to note that the country’s taking every possible measure to bring all the schools into one level, by providing similar facilities for all the students in the country. Doing so will surely bring back the competition for these leading schools since every school would guarantee the best for the students. So, let’s hope for the best!