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Old 26-08-20, 12:00 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default A Legendary Thomian Teacher - D.N. Pereira

A Legendary Thomian Teacher - D.N. Pereira
18 February 2014 07:53 pm

What prompted me to write about our beloved master Douglas Noel Pereira (popularly known as D N Pereira) is that he was both a student and a teacher of St. Thomas? College Mt. Lavinia which is indeed remarkable. But in addition to this, I believe that among many an old boy who has served the College, D N Pereira is one who had dedicated his entire life to the College.

D.N. Pereira was born on 27th April 1915 to a family of ten siblings. His father was a well known Latin and English scholar who has published text books in Latin. Mr. D N Pereira was born under the star sign Taurus which he was proud of according to his only daughter Corrine. My interpretation of Taureans is that they are service oriented and are very reliable and dedicated individuals and Mr. D N Pereira definitely epitomised that.
Following in his father?s footsteps he was an avid reader of all literature, a talented writer and a scholar in Ancient Greek and Latin. Shakespeare would have been his favourite writer and his knowledge in English was incomparable. A master in grammar, he did not hesitate to correct anyone if he saw any grammatical mistakes.
Mr. D N Pereira was from an affluent family and Sir Oliver Gunatillake was his God Father. However, he never attempted to bring these influential links or play politics in his teaching career, as he was a confident scholar and did not need to flaunt his family ties.

Dress Code
I met Mr. D N Pereira in grade 8 at S. Thomas?s College. His appearance was not only attractive, but had the subtle effect on all young Thomians as to how one should dress to command respect from others. He always wore a well ironed tweed trouser and coat suit with a red tie. His brown leather shoes were so shiny we used to say that one could use it as a mirror to comb the hair. Without his or our knowledge, he was our role model.

Even today I would always wear well- ironed and polished shoes. He never uttered a word about how a Thomian should dress, but by setting an example he has created a tradition which we continue to this day. Sadly, we cannot say much about the attire of the present-day teachers. Except for a handful of headmasters in a few urban schools, the other male teachers do not seem to make an attempt on their dress code.

"Exam question papers which were prepared by teachers and were copied on a Roneo machine, never leaked to the students or anyone else. In fact paper leaking was unheard of. Not forgetting that with such primitive reprographic facilities, the chances were greater of someone taking a copy of the exam paper"

Discipline
Ensuring discipline within the College was different during our time. Apart from the Warden there were a few teachers who were given the authority to cane students. Mr. D N Pereira was one of them. He hardly exercised that authority. His presence and the mere mention of his name was enough to keep the students in order. He was known as ?Bulto?; a very hard and chewy toffee at that time which was so sticky that one could only suck it till the end. He took his role as both a disciplinarian and role model so seriously that he gave up smoking to set the right example for his students. Any punishment meted out was never malicious. He always said; ?Please bear in mind that the good and the bad you do in life, will have a reflection on the College?.



A Pillar of the College

He joined S. Thomas? College at a time when the College was famous for languages such as Greek, Latin and English. Being a scholar of all three languages, he was a much sought after teacher. Prior to joining S. Thomas?, he served at the St Thomas? College Matara as well as at Richmond College, Galle. His career at his own School STC Mt. Lavinia began in 1951. Wearing the dual hats of an old boy and a teacher of the school, he played a pivotal role in the College administrative sphere. He was a service oriented man and thus he chose the teaching profession. He always found the time to give extra support in studies for children, which in this day and age would be called ?tuition?, the difference being he charged no fee.



Commitment to Profession

Punctuality, they say is the politeness of princes. Well, Mr D N Pereira was royalty indeed. Not only was he punctual, he was hardly absent. Sharp on the bell, he would enter the classroom. He always checked the homework which he had given the previous day. He finishes his lesson two minutes before the next bell and places his books into the brown leather case and leaves for the next class, to be there on time. The school session was from 8.15 in the morning till 3.05 in the afternoon with a lunch interval of one hour. Mr Pereira always went home for lunch. I recently found out that he always changed into a fresh suit when he came back for the second session.

"Sadly, we cannot say much about the attire of the present-day teachers. Except for a handful of headmasters in a few urban schools, the other male teachers do not seem to make an attempt on their dress code"


Language and Literature

He taught us English Language and Literature. Unfortunately I could not take Latin and Greek. However, during that time there were many a Greek and Latin scholar in the College including Rev. Lucien Fernando. He used to write comments in our books in Latin and Greek using red ink, in order to encourage us to find the meaning. We always had to go to another Latin scholar such as Mr. D N Pereira to find the meaning.

Most of us selected English Literature. It was a difficult subject and only a few teachers were able to take it. I still remember how Mr. Pereira defined literature. ?Literature is reading and understanding?. He taught us poetry and prose. I always marvelled at the wealth of knowledge he possessed. He had acquired vast knowledge through reading, a habit that the teachers of today lack. We were indeed the fortunate ones to have learnt from him as well as inherited the habit of reading.


Conducting Examinations

The examinations during the time of D N Pereira were to help students excel. He was very keen to mould proper Thomians out of every student. Exam question papers which were prepared by teachers and were copied on a Roneo machine, never leaked to the students or anyone else. In fact paper leaking was unheard of. Not forgetting that with such primitive reprographic facilities, the chances were greater of someone taking a copy of the exam paper.


The Loss
In 1959 he had applied to migrate to Australia and was given the opportunity. He was probably the only one who declined such a great opportunity to stay back in the country because he felt that the College needed his services. However, in 1972 the need to migrate was more evident as he had lost his many hours of teaching in the English syllabus - his hours of teaching greatly reduced by half with the introduction of Sinhalese as the main language of instruction. Late SWRD Bandaranaike?s policy decision for short term political gain resulted in making excellent English scholars like DN Pereira to leave the country. And that is how the country lost a great English scholar. Sri Lanka?s loss was Australia?s gain. He started teaching in Australia from the age of 57 till after 65 years.

To him, serving his College was the ultimate joy. We were fortunate to have been the students of such a true Thomian legend who served his College till his last breath.

Kesarralal Gunasekara
Former Member of Parliament

http://www.dailymirror.lk/43322/a-le...er-dn-pereira-

Last edited by sriyanj; 26-08-20 at 12:31 AM.
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