Having finished the record of my travels while at Oxford, I start a new series today to alternate with my travels within Sri Lanka while I worked at the Council. I am still dealing with what I did in the eighties in those posts, but I move now to the nineties, and a new dimension to the work I was doing when, in 1993, I was asked to undertake a great deal more.

What made this all very easy was my great joy in travel, enjoying again and again the sheer beauty of this country. And this was enhanced by the best of travelling companions whom I found by chance in the latter part of 1993.

The pictures are of those who initiated and contributed massively to the programmes I worked on, Arjuna Aluwihare, Mahinda Palihawadana and Oranee Jansz.

New responsibilities nationwide.

The peripatetic existence I had begun to lead in the nineties had become more intense when I left the British Council in 1992, with the most important aspect of my new job at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura being to look after the English Diploma course at the Affiliated University Colleges which the University Grants Commission had set up.

The concept, the brainchild of the UGC Chairman Arjuna Aluwihare, was taken up most actively by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura under a dynamic Vice-Chancellor Prof S B Hettiarachchi. And Aluwihare’s vision of this experiment transforming English at tertiary level, rejected with contumely by the universities that had traditional English Departments, Peradeniya and Kelaniya and Colombo, was avidly taken up by the USJP Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Prof Mahinda Palihawadana.

He and Aluwihare roped me in, for they had had previously to work with a junior if committed lecturer, Geetha Premaratne, and when she went to Australia I had no option, to make sure the programme continued successful, but to leave the Council and join USJP. Obviously the university expected much to be done there too, and I did transform the degree programme there, and try to reform the university’s English Language Teaching Unit.

Meanwhile the English Diploma commences in three more Colleges in addition to the three with which USJP had begun, Belihuloya and Rahangala and Anuradhapura. The new courses were at Buttala, run by USJP, and at Vavuniya and Trincomalee which belonged to the Jaffna and Eastern Universities respectively.

But then in the middle of 1993 I was also asked, perhaps because the UGC saw how well students were doing under the new system I had started, to also take on coordinating General English at all the AUCs, except for at the one in Kuliyapitiya supervised by Kelaniya University. So now I had to also visit the two Ruhuna AUCs at Kamburupitiya and Niyagama, the Colombo one at the former plywood factory on the High Level Road, the Peradeniya one at Polgolla, and the South-Eastern one at Sammanthurai which I believe was in those days under the Eastern University.

That made eleven Affiliated University Colleges altogether that I had to visit, to check on programmes. And then in July I was also appointed to coordinate the pre-University General English Language Training programme, together with Oranee Jansz of the USJP ELTU.