Establishment and Development of Fatima College
The Wesleyan Missionaries were the first to establish English-medium education in Kalmunai area. They administered up to 30 schools in the region in the early 20th century. After the period of the Wesleyan Missionaries, schools for English and Tamil education were established by Catholic Missionaries. St. Mary’s College, which was established at the premises of Sacred Heart Church, Kalmunai, was the pioneer of these Catholic schools. In addition to St. Mary’s College, an English-medium school for boys was established by the Catholic Missionaries. Later, in 1938, Reverend Brothers of St. Joseph’s Society took over this school, and they named it “Fatima College” in 1950’s.
In the following years, Fatima College was proved to be one of the top quality schools in the Eastern Province. Fatima College had 15 graduates and 2 trained teachers who were trained in both English and Tamil language. They include two science graduates from South India. Reverend Brothers C.Chrysostom, S.M.Benjamin, M.Emmanuel, S.A.Francis, A.K.Patrick, A.R.Montine, J.M.Martin, and A.T.Alphorns played an important role in the development of Fatima College. Sports activities were developed by Reverend Brothers J.A.Daniel and S.A.Gnanapragasam. Fatima College played in Cricket and Football matches with BT/St. Michael’s College annually during the times of these teachers. Rev.Bro.A.T.Alphorns beautified the school by maintaining a Botanical Garden and a Zoological Garden at small scale inside the school premises.
Establishment and Development of Carmel High School
In 1922, Apostolic Carmelites Nuns came to Sri Lanka to provide their services. In 18 July 1928, they established “Carmel Convent” in Kalmunai. By the end of 1958, Carmel High School was formed by amalgamating all their English and Tamil medium schools. Reverend Sisters M.Flentine, M.Algock, M.Lorinda, M.Dorothea, M.Dominica, M.Elaine, M.Frideswide, M.Judith, M.Odilia, M.Alphina, M.Lydoona, and M.Mabel worked hard for the development of Carmel High School. Rev.Sr.M.Dorothea played a major role in the development of the school as the principal for 17 years.
Amalgamation of Fatima College and Carmel High School
During the early 1960’s, when the government took over the schools, importance was given to the student population of the schools. Schools were upgraded to “High School” and “Central High School” levels according to the student population. They were provided with GCE (A/L) and Laboratory facilities with the upgrade.
Fatima College and Carmel High School were not able to gain these facilities from the government due to the lack of student population in both schools. To overcome the issue, Principals, School Development Society members, Well-wishers and Old Students of both schools proposed for the amalgamation of these two schools. With the hard work of the above mentioned people, Fatima College and Carmel High School were amalgamated, and named as “Carmel Fatima College”. Rev.Bro.S.A.Francis was placed as the first principal of Carmel Fatima College. From September 1976, Rev.Sr.M.Mabel became the principal and Rev.Bro.J.M.Martin became the deputy principal. When Rev.Sr.Mabel retired, Rev.Bro.S.A.I.Mathew has become the principal of Carmel Fatima College. Rev.Sr.M.Lorinda worked along with Rev.Bro.Mathew as the deputy principal for 3 years from 1978.
At the time Rev.Bro.Mathew accepted to be the principal of Carmel Fatima College, there were 1200 students and 45 teachers including 13 principal grade teachers in the school. In 1978, a laboratory building for GCE (O/L) students was built in the school, and was opened by the Hon. Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, R. Premadasa on 27 October 1978. Rev.Bro.S.A.I. Mathew worked very hard to prepare for the ceremony to welcome the prime minister. His efforts made the prime minister to extend his stay at the school from 5 minutes to 1 hour.
The Eye of the Cyclone and Recovery
A disastrous cyclone attacked the eastern coastal area of Sri Lanka on 23 November 1978. Carmel Fatima College almost lost all of its buildings in the disaster. Carmel Convent building also brought down by the cyclone; 3 students resided in the hostel died and many other students suffered injuries.
With a remarkable 22 years of service, Rev.Bro.S.A.I.Mathew retired from his duty as the principal of Carmel Fatima College on 24 November 1999, his birthday. He bears the honor of upgrading the level of the school to a “National School” in 1993, and by the time he retired, almost 95 percent of the buildings remained in the school were either built or rebuilt by his effort. It has to be mentioned that the school showed very good results in both curricular and extracurricular activities during the period of Rev.Bro.S.A.I.Mathew.
In 1999, Rev.Bro.M.Stephen Mathew accepted the duty as the principal of Carmel Fatima College. He continues to develop the school from where Rev.Bro.S.A.I.Mathew left. The school is now facilitated with more new buildings and two Information Technology Units, uninterrupted water supply, and many more.
Now the school educates about 3000 to 3500 students every year, in which 400 of them are GCE (A/L) students. About 150 staffs are employed in the school, including more than 120 teachers and 30 non-academic staffs.