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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sanath Lama delivers lecture to Year 11 students at Royal College

On the 25th of January, 2017, Sanath delivered a lecture to the year 11 students at Royal College to motivate them to do biology and proceed to complete a career in medicine. The lecture was organised by the Royal College Doctors Association, as the number of students opting for biology after their "O" levels is dwindling. Many are opting for IT. To quote Sanath himself "I was filled with nostalgia because my first visit to the premises was in January 1948 when I entered the baby class ( Grade 1)".

A synopsis of his presentation is given below.

Good morning everyone. Mr. Abeyratne, Principal of Royal College, members of the tutorial staff, Dr Ajith Tennekoon, the President of the Royal College Doctors Association (RCDA), and other members of the association and dear students.

First of all I should thank the RCDA for inviting me to address the students and motivate them to study biology. I am filled with nostalgia as I recollect the first day I entered these premises in January 1948, when I entered the baby class or Grade 1. I came to school in a rickshaw with an "Ayah". I was asked to sing a song by my teacher Mrs Peiris and I asked her whether to sing in English or Sinhalese. She told me that the choice was mine and I proceeded to sing "Ba Ba Black sheep, have you any wool---". I sang this song for a second time many years later  in 1962 when I was ragged on entering the Colombo Medical Faculty!  Our batch had about 150 students of whom about 100 were boys. There were 33 old Royalists in our batch. This year our batch is celebrating 50 years of graduation in March with a grand re-union.

The most important exam that I passed was the University Entrance examination. If not, I would not be a doctor today and talking to all of you.You may notice that I have a long string of qualifications behind my name. Of these I value the MBBS degree the most, as without it I would not be what I am today. Out of the post -graduate qualifications, I greatly value the PhD,  because this degree helped me to advance in my academic career the most.

All of you young Royalists are a greatly privileged lot because you are studying in the best school in Sri Lanka and you should make the maximum use of the facilities available to you. You should participate in extra-curricular activities. Some of my former students excelled in sports when they were studying at Royal College. In the 70s I taught Maiya Gunasekera and Fred Perera, both of whom had captained the Royal College rugby team. Maiya is a surgeon while Fred is a neurosurgeon. In the 1990s I taught Harindu Wijesinghe and Rukshan Gunathilaka; both of them had captained the school rugby team as well. Harindu is a rheumatologist whilst Rukshan is a paediatrician. Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity are becoming major health problems today. In addition to your studies, each of you should participate in extracurricular activities as well, to maintain good health.

I wish all of you the very best for the future!


  1. Really appreciated your excellent speech Lama.Is the full version available elsewhere ?
    Thank you Lucky for publishing the synopsis

  2. The file wouldn't open for me, but I hope to read it later. Sanath, you have done the right thing by encouraging students at this early stage to take up science subjects. No doubt many there would want to follow in your footsteps. It is as important to get this message across to students of all Sri Lankan schools especially in those which are not that well known. There must be many students who are quite talented but do not get the right advice. So let's spread the message widely. Zita

  3. I have tried hard to publish the powerpoint along with the article. Since I failed to do so, I have done the next best. It can still be viewed if you go to Google and copy and paste the link in the search box. I found that it works. Hope others too would succeed.

  4. If any one wishes to see the power point presentation, I could e-mail it. My e-mail address is

  5. I saw it on the email presentation now and feel I truly understand what a 'pearl' within the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Karapitya faculty and hospital are. The slides speak volumes. Many congrats to all who spearheaded this venture over the years! The legacy will be the hundreds of doctors whose life will be changed so much for the better and the people of Karapitya and areas around who have benefitted so far and thousands whose quality of life will be improved as a result of this facility. Well done to all involved! from Zita