It was a practice of the Catholic community and other Christian communities to build various educational institutes, in order to provide Christian education to our students. Sunday schools lay the foundation for this purpose.
Our ancestors were well aware of this fact and thus, with all the difficulties they built a school attached to the church. St. Mary’s College was the result of this effort. It was initially built where the current Urban Council is located.
Mr. E. Joseph Fernando, brother of the sacristan Mr. E. Palis Fernando was the first principal of the school.
Later, the school premises were moved to a land under the church in 1916, as per a request made by Mr. E. Gregoris Fernando. Thereafter, the school was registered under the government of Sri Lanka as a fully-fledged Catholic School. The school received an overwhelming response from the surrounding community and the number of students attending had a rapid growth. This compelled the authorities to build a bigger facility.
Rev. Fr. R. Mahe realized this requirement and made a request to Right Rev. Thomas Benjamin Cooray. As a result, the school received a complete facility and was moved to the current school location. The first principal of the new location was Mr. Moses Perera.
The school saw a rapid development ever-since. In 1963, the government took over the school administration. St. Mary’s College, Ja-Ela has provided education for thousands of students and are continuing to serve our community.