Private University, A second chance in life

Nilesh Jayanandana
5 min readFeb 25, 2018

In Sri Lanka, the common misconception is, if you fail Advanced Level or just pass it without flying colors, your future is doomed. You will then be stuck in a dead end job without ever achieving the success you dreamt of having when you were 10 years old. There are ways to avoid this of course, like becoming a minister. But the most viable solution I see is private universities in Sri Lanka which provides you a second chance. There are some parties in Sri Lanka still opposing private universities and all what it stands for saying the degrees are sold for money instead of earned through hard work and skill. Therefore, I thought I’d write this article up to share my story of private education in Sri Lanka and how it gave me a second chance in life.

Let’s start from the beginning. I went to a very small local school till grade 5 scholarship examination and with me being one of the 150 top scorers in the country for that examination , opened the gates of Royal College in year 2004. The feeling was tremendous. I was in one of the top schools in Sri Lanka.

But as tremendous as the feeling was, there was a downside. That was the extreme competition. As I remember in grade 6, my term average was 96.04 out of 11 subjects. And guess my position in the class? It was 8th! In my previous school I was always the first and this was something new to me. And I did not take this well as my average slumped as years went by. Making the shift from Sinhala (local language) medium to English didn’t do much help either as at that time, my english wasn’t very good.

But come O/L’s in 2009, I started finding my groove again and started scoring high eighties and low nineties in my mid terms. With it, I scored 8As and a B in my O/L’s which i think was pretty good. Ironically the B was for IT. You will realize why it was ironical later in this post.

Okay, Now comes A/L’s, the most active couple of years in my student life. The stream I chose was biology, given my family has a history of a lot of people following biology in A/Ls. I simply chose that stream cause, that was the stream I felt I would be good at. (or so I thought!). Soon I realized Biology wasn’t for me as I thought it would be and by the time it was too late and I had to endure the difficulties and move forward with it.

But you know, those were the days. The prime of our youth. Final years of school life. There were many distractions. Many firsts. I was exposed to a new world in this era with new friends. Getting involved in extra curricular activities at school, organizing events, skipping classes and playing cricket or rugby in the school ground etc. were some of those. With all of these, I lost focus on studies and reality itself. But I enjoyed every single moment of it, and those were the things that made me who I am as a person today.

And I never foresaw the disaster coming ahead. I was a bright person, I have a good IQ and I know if i focused and studied well for A/L’s I would have gotten through. But I didn’t and I got only 3 simple passes as my final result. I remember the face of my mother when I told her my results and it really broke my heart. Lot of people in my family pinned up their hopes on me, had high expectations for me and I blew all of them up in the end. But I thought, okay I can face the examination again and this time I will do it properly. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. One of the reasons that I could outline for that was the fact that I hated those subjects, I was never interested in them. Anyway, I took the exam again and the result was the same. Then only the reality hit me. I was done. There are no more chances. I wasn’t a kid anymore. My future was uncertain. Lot of people started looking down on me. Once a bright light with so many expectations was now diminished by a single examination result.

I was suicidal to be honest. It was my fault for not studying and focusing properly, my mistake for all of this. But people make mistakes. It’s what makes us human. Then came my second chance in life. Private education. I was lost and finally my life and future had hope thanks to private education.

I chose the stream I love this time, which is software engineering and I have never looked back since. I got enrolled in a private university called Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology or SLIIT as some may call it and I started redeeming myself from day 1. The road was tough, given it was private, it meant that I had to pay a somewhat considerable amount of money per semester. I didn’t come from a rich family and I only had my mother. She supported me throughout and I too had to do a job on the weekdays and go for lectures on weekends and weekday evenings. Life was rough. It was a nightmare balancing studies and work. But I somehow did it. I did it really well in fact that I topped my batch at SLIIT twice and got 2 scholarships for it.

So come 2018, I completed my undergraduate degree specializing in software engineering in end of 2017 after 4 years of hardship and career wise, since I have been working from year 1, I have 4 years of on field experience and currently I’m a senior software engineer working for an interesting Australian based company called Platformer Cloud. Furthermore I am a part time trainer and a consultant on a couple of IT related technologies I excel at.

Life is good now. Everyone who looked down on me once, wants to be my friend. My mother’s happiness is back. I have taken the full use of the second chance provided for me in the guise of private education. This is my story. This is how I redeemed myself. Can you imagine what my life would have been if private education was abolished in Sri Lanka? Probably stuck in some dead end job working for lesser wage.

I hope this story would inspire someone who thought it’s the end of the road after not getting selected for a local university in Sri Lanka to move forward and achieve greatness. I hope this story would somewhat change the perspective some people have on abolishing private education in Sri Lanka. My life wasn’t perfect, I have made many mistakes that you haven’t. But I learned from them, and I turned it around the best way I could and moved forward.

Thank you for reading. Clap if you liked this.