Hundred years and more have passed since the founding of the Jaffna Hindu College and today as ever the college stands aloft as the premier Hindu Educational Institution in the Island.
Generations of students who have passed through its portals are spread all over the world distinguishing themselves in whatever vocation they are engaged in. Wherever they are that reflects the discipline, dedication and character that have been inculcated in them apart from the academic knowledge acquired by them. They also carry with them Shakespeare's admonition, "To Thine Ownself be True" - the school motto.
The college has had a proud record of service in the history of our country. Many of its distinguished alumni have held and are holding high positions of responsibility in Sri Lanka. They have contributed to the national and cultural life of the people of this country.
The college has also been the citadel of Tamil and Hindu culture. Such achievements of the college are due to the very strong foundation laid by the founding fathers.
In the wake of a religious reawakening brought about by the valiant efforts of a dynamic reformer Srila Siri Arumuga Navalar, an association called the Saiva Samaya Paripalana Sabhai was founded in 1898 and one of the avowed aims of the association was to establish an English medium school with a Hindu environment in Jaffna.The same year Mr. Nevins Selvadurai, a Christian himself started a school called the native town school at Main Street, Jaffna. Mr. S. Nagalingam, the patron of the school shifted the school to Vannarponnai. The school then came to be known as Nagalingam Town High School. It is this school that evolved into the present Jaffna Hindu College. Once the school was set up, they felt the necessity for permanent buildings.The management committee launched a collection campaign. They appealed for public funds. There was feverish activity on the part of all well wishers and funds came pouring in. New buildings were constructed and sufficient accommodation was provided for the increasing number of students enrolled.
The founders also introduced a scheme of education in conformity with the times and were of long lasting benefit to the students. The core-curriculum was of course designed on the public school model. As stated by Mr. Nevins Selvadurai the then principal, in his prize day report of 1897, "it was Mr. Nagalingam who conceived the idea of a national college developing a system of education adapted to the requirements and needs of the Tamil community of Jaffna".
A long line of distinguished principals who included B. Sanjiva Rao, W. A. Troupe, V.R.Venkataraman, A. Cumaraswamy, N. Sabaratnam, E. Sabalingam and P.S.Cumaraswamy guided the destiny of this proud institution over the years.
It was the high schools which provided the stepping-stone for admission to the University of Ceylon, the only one for the country till its recent proliferation. Year after year high schools called colleges like Jaffna Hindu College, Hartley College and St. Johns College produced a record number of admission to the University. Jaffna Hindu and Hartley vied with each other in getting the students admitted to the Engineering faculty of the University.So many of them achieved great distinction in their academic fields and obtained high rankings. Likewise the medical faculty also had its annual quota from the Jaffna Hindu College. In spite of the obstacles placed in the way of Tamil students seeking higher education, Jaffna Hindu still continues to play a mighty role in preparing the students in their pursuit of higher education. Even this year in spite of the curfews and bombings, power failures and denial of facilities the students are still holding the Blue and White flags high in academic excellence. Last year one student became Island first in the Advanced Level examination.
In the past, soon after students finished their secondary education and without waiting to enter the University, many of them left for the Federated Malay States and Singapore, also ruled by the British, where they were recruited for the administrative and self-services. A good number of them qualified as medical practitioners and on return practiced as medical doctors.
Today and for a long time past old scholars of Jaffna Hindu College have been working in top professional positions all over the world. Medical doctors in particular have distinguished themselves in the U.K and have embellished their names with such titles as MRCS, MRCP, FRCS and FRCP. They are today working in several States in the USA, so much so that there is hardly a city in the U.S which is not served by a Tamil doctor and that too an old boy of Jaffna Hindu College. One of the greatest blessings of a long British rule in our country is the sound education we possess. English will continue to hold its position as the medium of instruction. It is the knowledge of the English language which today is the lingua franca of the world, which opened the portals of the Orient and the Western countries to us. It is what will continue to keep us in good shape in the years to come.
The JHC has provided excellence in education to hundreds of thousands of students from all parts of this country for more than a century. The JHC is considered to be one of the best educational institutions in Sri Lanka for the quality of educational services and sports activities. We have played our part in all extra curricular activities. Achievements in the field of sports are etched in the memories of our old boys. Our several Old Boys Associations have taken an abiding interest in the development of education and sports. They have bought lands for extending the playgrounds. Basketball is played with the same vigor, as is soccer. Our old boys realize that the JHC plays an important role in the development of educational excellence in North Sri Lanka and that it has a social responsibility toward the community. Our old boys raise funds for the development of the school and they need all the encouragement from our well-wishers and the public.