The Institute of Physics (IOP) UK has awarded one of the ‘Teachers of Physics Award 2010’ to Priyankara Gunawardena, a teacher of Sri Lankan origin at Liverpool College. He is the first Asian recipient of the award.
Gunawardena was born in Sri Lanka and studied at Seevali College, Ratnapura and D.S. Senanayake College, Colombo, later graduating from the University of Colombo with an honours degree in Physics. After teaching at the University of Colombo and several international schools, he migrated to the UK in 2001 when he was offered a teaching position by an inner London school. In 2002, he joined the Liverpool College and has been there since, building a successful career for himself. He is married with two children; the entire family obtained British citizenship a few years ago.
Gunawardena praises the quality of UK education system very highly. “When it comes to the university education, the UK has many of the world’s best universities. At the post-graduate level, too, British universities are second to none in the world and a large number of international students enrol for a variety of academic courses,” he said.
His achievement in winning this award demonstrates the UK’s respect for other nationalities and the value of multiculturalism in British institutions.
Talking about UK’s multiculturalism, Gunawardena commented: “The British, in general, are very tolerant and respectful of each others’ cultural rituals and religious beliefs. I believe in the UK there is a lot of religious freedom. There are diverse ethnic, religious and cultural societies and most communities integrate with the English people whom I believe are the most tolerant people in the world.”
Commenting on the education opportunities for Sri Lankans in UK, Acting British High Commissioner, Mark Gooding, said “I congratulate Priyankara on his exceptional achievement, which exemplifies the strong UK-Sri Lanka links in education.”
The Teachers of Physics awards, instituted in 1986, celebrate and reward the success of teachers who, by their outstanding practice in the classroom have raised the state of physics and science in schools, and are given to schoolteachers in secondary education. The IOP selected six persons including Gunawardena for 2010 as the winners of the Teachers of Physics award.