Embedded in the highbrow fabric of academics, Dr. Nirodha Bandara, the Academic Director of Royal Institute International School (RI) and Royal Institute of Colombo (RIC – the higher education arm of RI), paints her life’s
progress alongside the burgeoning tale of her alma mater.
Rooted in a family of five comprising her parents, younger brother and husband, Dr. Nirodha studied at Royal Institute, Nugegoda, from the age of 2 to 17. During her journey through nursery until Cambridge ALs, alongside academics, she constantly engaged herself in extracurricular activities to sharpen her non-academic skills. Having found a healthy balance between
academics and extracurricular activities, Dr. Nirodha states, “I was a little friend, a girl guide, a prefect; I played, sang, danced, painted, and entered competitions too”. Balancing a great deal of knowledge and play, she succeeded in her education without any help from private tutors. Instead, she learned everything at school and enjoyed the process
Pursuing her higher education in the genre of Economics, Dr. Nirodha entered the University of Sheffield (UK) for a BA (Hons) Degree in Economics and Management. “I was awarded a scholarship based on my academic and extracurricular track records, thanks to my school,” she adds. The young graduate obtained her MSc in Economics from the University of Warwick (UK), and her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Nottingham (UK). “My research focused on Sri Lankan education policies, collating Sri Lankan data whilst focusing on the differences between urban
and rural sector education,” she states, demonstrating her interest in the education sector, and its links to economic development.
A recipient of holistic education, Dr. Nirodha enthusiastically performed her duties as the Treasurer of the Sri Lankan Community, and also taught undergraduates while reading for her Ph.D., proving her passion for education. After an extensive period of study, she returned to Sri Lanka, with the hope of giving back to her country, and being with her family. She continued to work in the field of economic policing while contributing to
Royal Institute at a minimal level when it occurred to her that RI needed more of her attention. Knowing that the simultaneous balancing of two tasks will divide her attention and subsequently, the quality of performance, Nirodha chose to shift her attention to RI completely. She was determined to amplify the energy, life, and enthusiasm that RI has always contained. “I was eager to see the same life and atmosphere I had experienced during my childhood,” she adds, reflecting her strong intention to provide further support to teachers and students. Nirodha also believes
that as a past student with an international academic background, she can certainly, add value to the arena of international education in Sri Lanka. Dr. Nirodha also serves as the treasurer for The International Schools of Sri Lanka (TISSL).
Branching her focus out to develop values and educational skills in individuals to serve their society right, she reflects on the success stories of those who had left RI and RIC with impeccable aspirations. “During the 50 years of our journey as Royal Institute, we’ve produced medical doctors, professionals in the field of research, educators, etc.,” she claims, and continues to enunciate, “Economic crisis or not, a nation needs prudent professionals and strong individuals. This tough period on the other hand has opened up new avenues for our learners to explore: research for sustainable fuel, advise policy makers, discover global opportunities via
technology, etc. As education providers, RI and RIC take the initiative to implement such opportunities within the respective structure. As educators, it is important to inform students of the opportunities available and
help them find their passion.” She believes that RI and RIC accelerate towards a greater purpose, encouraging students to question themselves, “why do you learn and why is it important”.
Having a strong team of creative and well-educated staff, Dr. Nirodha states, “Talents of our students at RI are showcased through international competitions, debates, seminars, etc., where they are being exposed to the global community”. Further, affiliating with world-renowned universities, undergraduates at RIC are privileged to interact with and experience international level exposure. Nirodha affirms that “to unleash a different level of creativity in students, interactive and experience-based learning methods are given special focus.”
“Despite all the current issues, our students have endured and overcome difficulties while attending and sitting for the international Cambridge and Edexcel Exams amidst the prevailing circumstances, and RI was able to provide every facility to ensure that they continue their journey smoothly and uninterrupted,” Nirodha states. “It’s not about postponing, it’s about adapting to changes. We are resilient. If we continue to persevere this way, then we are teaching our children the importance of perseverance rather than taking a backseat and complaining about the situations which are beyond our control.” She firmly believes that it is all about the next step and the next challenge, rather than lingering on the past.
As an educational institution standing in the dominating times of technology, Nirodha believes that technology has to be incorporated into every step of education. “Those two go hand in hand. With that in mind, we have continuously trained our academic staff so that they can embrace the changes and advancements in technology, and continue providing a holistic education even at tough times like this.”
Standing in the industry for an extensive period of over 50 years, RI has witnessed multiple facets of learning and growth emerge. The mistakes, the challenges, and the experiences gained along the way have shaped RI and RIC into what they are today. The individuals who have teamed up and passed through RI across the past 50 years have brought in and left behind tacit knowledge and skills across diverse genres, in turn testifying the success of the staff members, the school and RIC as a whole. Nirodha believes, “We have gathered wisdom from the good and the bad that we conquered, making us confident in the face of adversity,” and affirms the notion that RI is an education provider which competes with itself on its path to progress.
Royal Institute stands out in the education industry with quality being placed at the forefront, and is proud of the education bodies they are affiliated with. “At RI schools, we offer examinations from both awarding bodies, Cambridge Assessment International Education and Pearson Edexcel while the RIC is affiliated with renowned, topranked universities providing world-recognized degrees including the University of London and Deakin University, Australia. Highlyranked universities such as London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London and King’s College London, follow under the banner of the University of London, and are wellplaced globally in various fields of study.”
Students are approached holistically as the academic staff at RI and RIC cater to the development of the whole individual, with focus directed at both education and extracurricular activities. “At Royal Institute, teachers
are the facilitators who capture the child’s capabilities and ignite passion within the child,” adds Dr. Nirodha.
Observing education at 360° and expanding their teaching approaches towards the betterment of their learners, both RI and RIC have generated a rewarding increment on the loyalty demonstrated by their learners. “Some of our alumni come back to serve the organization, while some return as guest speakers to share their experiences with the upcoming generation”,
adds Dr. Nirodha. She continues, “At Royal Institute, we cater to the education needs of students from nursery to tertiary level.” Royal Institute takes pride in being there for any student at any phase of their educational journey.
As one of the youngest Ph.D. holders in Sri Lanka, Dr. Nirodha shares valuable advice with the upcoming generation. She is a strong-minded individual who went for her Ph.D. taking no break in between the different
phases of her education. She believes that it helped her stay focused and committed during study, and the good mix of her current level of maturity, knowledge and experience, is applied very effectively in her profession.
She is determinedly looking forward to every next challenge with a conviction to succeed, and firmly believes in giving one’s 100% honesty and hard work to whichever career that is chosen. She also believes that giving back to the nation and society one thrives in is greater in scale than fulfilling one’s own needs and goals. “Whatever you do in life, you have to be 100% honest and genuine; serving the nation goes well beyond accomplishing your own needs and your own goals. Then success will follow you instead of you chasing behind success. If you have that attitude, you can get through to anything that you want in life.