Getting an education doesn’t always feel like it is worth it while you’re studying.
There are a lot of processes and systems involved in going to school, most of which you feel rather than think about. From waking up in the morning, to the travelling (which is again often spent stuck in traffic), to being in rigid timetables and having to repeat all of this every day, for five days a week – these weigh more on the mind than the body. As a student, there’s only so much that you can be convinced of as being “good”. There’s even less that you can be convinced of as being “right”.
The right school, at the right moment, with the right people, however, can change the entire course of your life.
I will always be grateful for my own alma mater, for the simple reason that it didn’t just look at me as just another student, or name in a register. I was given my own freedom, to learn as I liked, to become whoever I decided I wanted to be. I still remember the looks of surprise when I requested to do Further Mathematics with Law for my A/Ls. Yet no one talked me down or tried to get me to conform. In time, my results vindicated the faith they placed in me. The first steps down the journey of education were travelled thus: in freedom.
What my school lacked in size, or supposed, so-called prestige, it more than made up for in quality. The teachers I had were the best in their fields. Experience conjoined with creativity, firmness tempered with kindness and understanding, and minds at one with their hearts. They were all, in all honesty, the most supportive in whatever element of learning a student would wish to engage. The next steps of the journey were spent in good company.
Yet for all these great notions and privileges, I will always remember the people. They were my truest strength along the journey of education. All the teachers were, of course, inspirational, but the school always managed to bring forth truly exceptional human beings under its wings, one way or another. One such individual was my Advanced Level Mathematics sir. What I learnt from him changed my entire profession. In every way that matters, I am a lecturer today because of the kind of wisdom and strength he inculcated within me. When I heard of his passing, I don’t think there was much in the way of words to express my grief. Yet even in those moments, and now still, he remains a teacher. He gave me a future. The last steps of the journey don’t end – they are spent in quiet comfort, under a guiding light.
Royal Institute is all these things. It’s not just a school or a place of learning. It’s the entire journey of education. From the first moments, taken in a crawl, to the next chapter, at a running pace, till the end, in a quiet walk, it’s there for you every step of the way. The light of learning never dims. It always finds a new way to shine, a new student to take under its wings, a new candle to guide one’s way.
Nevanka de Silva Jayatilleke
Diploma in the Social Sciences, BSc (Hons) International Relations (UoL)
Masters in Human Rights (UoC)
Lecturer/Academic Coordinator – RIC