One of Sri Lanka’s respected international service organisations, which commands a seat at the United Nations General Assembly, has appointed Dr. Bandagiriye Somawansa Thero as the New Governor of Rotary District 3220 which oversees Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Dr Somawansa Thero was instrumental in setting up the Rotary Club of Kolonnawa in 1995 and was the Charter President in 1995/1996 and President in 1997/1998. He had the distinguished achievement of being a Multiple Paul Harris Fellow which happens to be the top accolades one can receive on the donations one makes to the rotary foundation.
Educated at Bandagiriya Maha Vidyalaya and the Sri Lanka Maha Privena, Dr. Somawansa Thero possesses a Bachelor of Arts and a PhD in Child Educational Philosophy. A multi-skilled person, he is the Director General of the National Children’s Educational Foundation (NCEF), founder and Managing Director of the NECF Buddhist College and NECF Model Kindergarten. He also serves as the Director of the NCEF Teacher Training Institute, National Child information Centre and NECF Vocational Training Institute.
Being an All-Island Justice of Peace, Dr. Somawansa Thero has performed as the Presidential Advisor to the President on the Early Child and Primary Educational Sector.
Dr. Somawansa Thero’s love for Rotary is deep-rooted with him being the Chairman of the Rotary Volunteer Committee 2002/03, Vocational Service Committee 2003/05, Community Service Committees 2008/09, Assistant Governor 2009/10 and Chairman of the Children at Risk Committee 2010/11 and Maternity and Child Health Committee 2013/14.
He was also instrumental in extending the Rotary Club of Sri Jayawardenepura and established the Sister-Club link with the Rotary Club of Yokohama North in District 2590 - Japan. One of his noteworthy achievements was initiating a mutual friendship and cultural exchange programs between children of the Eastern, Northern and Western provinces from 2007-2011 and 3,500 children participated in these friendship and cultural programs even during the height of the war.
He also conducted District Rotary Awareness workshops and the leadership program in Sinhala. The scholarship project for tsunami-affected children was initiated under his leadership in collaboration with a Rotary club in Japan and key Rotary clubs in the district. A housing project and electricity supply project in Hambantota and the distribution of 600 wheelchairs to disabled persons were also some of the other projects successfully completed by him.
Apart from the above work portfolio, a key theme of his is his early child and primary education policy where Dr. Somawansa Thero conducted education programs and workshops for parents, pre-school teachers and pregnant mothers, established 32 model kindergartens and provided advisory services to nine provincial councils.
Being a member of the National Committee for Development and Protection for Early Child and Primary Education under the Ministry of Child Development and Women Affairs, nearly 400 pre-schools have been established in remote areas in order to develop preschool education.
Indigenous Guidance for National Education; Philosophy of child education and a yearly work plan of Model Kindergarten, Food for the Developing Mind, Child Education etc. are some of the books authored and published by him on Child Education and Primary Education.
Even with his responsibilities in Sri Lanka, Ven. Dr. Somawansa Thero has taken time off to attend Rotary International conventions in Birmingham, England, Sao Paulo, Brazil Seoul, Korea and Atlanta, USA and zonal institutes and seminars in India.
“I will use my skill set and network to enhance the purpose of Rotary in Sri Lanka and the Maldives,” said Ven. Dr. Somavansa Thero.
The Chairman of the District PR Committee Dr. Rohantha Athukorala said: “With Venerable Somawansa at the helm of Rotary it will give a new image and meaning to the Rotary organisation and thereby attract a new segment of new members. This will also influence a new working style in the engagement of the public.”