Jaffna Holy Family Convent
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Jaffna Girl Power


By: Noeline Simon

There is no question; education gives individuals the knowledge and skills to participate effectively in society. To be effective, education must be widely available, to rich, poor, boys and girls alike. It is incomprehensible then that even today, with great strides in medical advancement, global mobility, technological innovation, etc. girls in many parts of the developing world are fighting for the right to be educated, even risking their lives to that end.

We, the diaspora women of Sri-Lanka were spared from such discrimination and inequality; we have had the benefit of good education, from kindergarten to high school, provided by schools like Jaffna Holy Family Convent (HFC) and then to go above and beyond.

For much of the last 150 years, Jaffna HFC has been the school of choice for the parents of daughters in and around the Jaffna peninsula. It is important then that we reflect and appreciate the education that has empowered and enabled us to partake in many walks of life both within Sri-Lanka and abroad.

If one were to take stock of our success as first generation immigrant women outside of our homeland, the results would surely be remarkable. Most of us arriving here as adults, had to adopt and evolve to the needs of our new environment, laws, workplace expectations, culture, not to mention the illusive "Canadian experience", etc., to first find employment and then move up the ladder. But succeed we did!

Our success, speaks volumes about the quality of education and values that were instilled in us during those formative early years. This is not to say, that we have been standing still in an ever changing world. To the contrary, we have stayed intellectually agile and evolved as individuals, family unit and community to move forward and participate in society. The Jaffna HFC AA Canada members have been a shining example of this phenomenon over the years.  

As we sit back and reflect on our success, we as old girls of Jaffna HFC owe it to ensure the current and future generations of our alma mater have access and resources to an excellent education. While the school has had set backs in its standing recently, it is working hard to gain it back by attracting and educating a good mix of the next generation of girls from the region.

We the lucky ones can provide the necessary support for Jaffna HFC to do just that. In a globalized world, quality human capital, male and female, will always be in demand. Quality education and relevant values will give generations of Jaffna girls the drive and tools to succeed.

Our alma mater can and must again become the school of choice for the parents of daughters in Jaffna and the surrounding region.

Moral Values – A necessary part of Jaffna HFC Curriculum


By: Tania   Rajinthrakumar

Why Teach Moral Values

When most people talk about a school curriculum, they think about mathematics, science, social studies, and sports. Seldom do we hear or read about moral values as being part of the curriculum. If a person has never learned any moral values, how is she or he able to discern the difference between right and wrong? That is basically the essence of moral values education.

In Jaffna Holy Family Convent, we look at education with a different set of eyes.Knowledge gained in school is only one goal of education. We realize that the primary goals of education should be enabling students to gain knowledge and moral values. Students will need both in preparing themselves to be good parents, leaders and citizens in society.

For many of us, it's amazing the amount of mathematics and science knowledge we may have forgotten since our school days. We haven't, however, forgotten moral value lessons learned in our school. As Familians, the moral values imparted in our school days help us to counter bad influence in society.

In my view the following three values, amongst others, learnt especially during our schooldays in Jaffna HFC play a vital role in making us to be competent, committed, compassionate and caring citizens:

Respect for Others - we learnt in HFC that respect for others constantly remind us to respect different religious persuasions, races, sexes, ideas, and life styles.

Compassion - defined as being sensitive to the basic needs of people; if there were more compassion in the world, there would be less poverty, hunger, wars, unhappiness and resentment.

Co-operation - to achieve a common goal, it is necessary for all to work together. If this is not done, a few people may profit, but the end result for everyone will be a failure. We strongly believe in co-operation as one of the lines of our school anthem states - Familians together, supporting each other.


Reflections of a Familian-First Patrician


By: Anton X. Rajinthrakumar

As past pupils, friends and well-wishers of Jaffna Holy Family Convent gather for their annual gala dinner celebration in Toronto, I find it interesting to recollect memories of my formative years at Jaffna Holy Family Convent. Some readers may even be surprised to know that Jaffna HFC had boys studying within the portals of their girls’ school. It is especially significant in the intersecting frames of time and spaces – a Patrician who also happens to be a Familian, sharing nostalgic reflections of a school in Jaffna with more than 150-year old history on the souvenir of the Alumni Association formed nearly 25 years ago in Toronto. We are fortunate to be Canadians with rich cultural and linguistic heritage from Jaffna. Like some of us who are truly privileged to be called Familian-first Patricians, my joy redoubles when I proudly remember my primary school days at HFC and subsequent secondary school education at SPC Jaffna.

Foundation at Jaffna HFC

What does my first Alma Mater – Jaffna Holy Family Convent mean to me? From time to time, I ask this question to myself. With grateful heart, I cherish my formative years at HFC from kindergarten to Grade 2. I got the solid foundation at HFC. During the early 70s, HFC was not a girls-only school from nursery-school to Grade 1. In Grade 2, I was in a boys-only feeder class exclusively preparing boys for Grade 3 at SPC, because then to get admission to St. Patrick’s at Grade 3, all outside students had to sit for an admission examination. At HFC, we were prepared exceptionally well and Teachers like, Sr. Glory Stanislaus Kattar, Ms. Francisca, Mrs. Imelda Jansen and Mrs. Yogamany Thanganayagam stand out for their passion and professionalism. These teachers along with other dedicated teachers and nuns made a lasting impression on the lives of students. Many boys from HFC passed the SPC Grade-3 entrance exams with flying colours and continued to perform well academically in subsequent grades at SPC. Further, many outstanding students at SPC proudly traced their formative years at HFC.

A Catholic educational institution in every respect, Jaffna HFC was also ecumenical in embracing Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist students in providing secular education. It is very important to note that up until the outbreak of ethnic conflict in early 80’s, Jaffna HFC was very diverse and universal. The founding Holy Family Sisters of Bordeaux, France and later several principals, teachers and administrators were from all over the world and gave the school and its students a formative exposure to the diversity of the humankind and the universality of the Catholic Church. The Holy Family sisters, who left their home countries with missionary devotion and lifelong commitment to educating children and especially girls, cannot be forgotten by the Jaffna society nor by the people of Jaffna origin, now settled in various parts of the globe. Many Familians from the postcolonial generation, who left the shores of Ceylon for greener pastures attribute their success in adopted western countries like Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom to the solid and sound formation they received at Jaffna HFC.

Perspectives from Toronto

In celebrating their fellowship and unforgettable memories of HFC school days, the students of Jaffna HFC can be thankful to their Alma Mater for preparing them in precious ways to become compassionate, caring, competent and courageous adults in multicultural Canada.

The Alumni Association in Toronto has been promoting fellowship among Familians living in North America and finding innovative ways to help our old school in Jaffna functioning under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. The key attributes of our noble school – universal Catholicism, importance to the learning of English language, and the ethos of empathy and respect for differences, hard work and disciplined lifestyle have contributed vastly for our socio-economic and spiritual wellbeing in a diverse and multicultural western country like Canada.

In a way, Familians in Toronto are a microcosm of the Jaffna community. It is a well known fact that Toronto has a family from every country and from every nook and corner of the globe. In the same way, Jaffna HFC Alumni Association Canada has a member from every corner and every administrative division of the sprawling Jaffna region. Let us remember that by helping our old school we not only provide an opportunity for the present day students to realize their full potential but also contributing to the rebuilding of our ancestral fatherland.

Jaffna HFC Alumni Association Canada can work in close partnership with the present school administration to make Jaffna HFC a leading institution in providing meaningful education and skills for the students of Jaffna in the globalized competitive job market.

Let us remember that “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. Together we can make Jaffna HFC Alumni Association Canada stronger and vibrant. Let our enduring Familian spirit help us to make a difference in the lives of the present generation of Familians in Jaffna.


Anton X. Rajinthrakumar

Email: rajixa@rogers.com

September 19th, 2016


Music and Sound

When you hear a song you like, a new track on the radio or the soundtrack of a movie - you may appreciate the music for its musicality and how it makes you feel. More often than not you don’t really think about the nitty-gritty that goes into the creation of that song or soundtrack. What most people may not realize is that one song is the product of numerous hours or days spent working on it by a producer, audio engineer and others. The soundtrack and score behind a movie actually takes weeks of someone’s time to perfect. What might be just a song to you is actually the result of a very complicated and creative process called audio production.

While in media, movies, T.V., etc., video is the most visual part, the audio production is actually more fundamental and essential when it comes to storytelling. While people are visual creatures by default, our sense of sound is the most integral when it comes to communication and absorption. Don’t believe me? Try this exercise: Pick your favorite scary movie and watch it on mute… It’s not the same, right? Without its intended audio cues and music, which are designed to build suspense, tension, and terror, no horror movie will ever reach the impact its meant to have.

While yes, video quality is an essential element of any production, it’s been proven that if the audio production is done well, then a poorly done video can be excused by viewers. But in reverse, an excellent video would be easily ruined if coupled with bad audio.

So the next time you enjoy a good movie, a TV show or a music video, consider the importance of audio production, or even know what it is; it plays a huge role in the media we interact with on a daily basis. Music, sound effects, speech, even silence, all play into how audio works to shape our thoughts, feelings, and the stories we consume.

So at the end of a good movie or a T.V. show, don't walk out or change the channel, stay for the credits to appreciate all those who worked behind the scenes to improve your enjoyment!


My Few Days at Holy Family Convent Jaffna

I’m a fourth-year student at University of Western Ontario; in February 2017, I visited the Holy Family Convent Jaffna to volunteer in their primary school library for a few days. It was an enlightening experience that I thought worth sharing. Volunteering at HFC is a wonderfully gratifying experience that can make an impactful difference to the volunteer and the HFC girls’ themselves!

I read beginner English books to girls in each of grades 2, 3, 4, and 5, for about an hour each day. It was without doubt a fun time for me and the girls! They were excited to interact with me, in their mind a foreigner. Students from each grade took turns reading English books aloud, explore new words and phrases. We also played fun games like ‘Simon Says’ to keep up a fun atmosphere. They sang and also recited poetry. They loved it all, and so did I. Importantly, they were gaining exposure to English reading and trying to have a conversation.

Learning English is perhaps one of the most valuable skills the Holy Family Convent school girls can learn at this age. It is a skill that is best mastered while they are young and it will be a crucial component to their future success. Clearly they are bright, capable and enthusiastic bunch of young girls; however, their reading and comprehension level did not reflect their potential. While some girls were more proficient, the others' capabilities consisted of basic nouns and phrases. Moreover, the students in fifth grade essentially exhibited no notably higher fluency than the girls in the second grade. The older girls, understandably, appeared more conscious of making a mistake, as such were unwilling to take a chance.

In my opinion, the girls would greatly benefit from a dedicated librarian and an established and regular volunteer program to help them learn and comprehend. This will open doors for them in the future. The school administration and staff share this view. Sister Antonita Mark, the principal of Holy Family Convent, is an incredibly hard-working person who is determined to ensuring these girls receive the best education they can possibly have. She promotes and welcomes volunteers who are bilingual and share her passion for giving these girls the best!

If you think you are the right person to fill that niche, I encourage you to volunteer. It’s an experience you won’t regret. If given the chance I would like do it again!


Down Memory Lane

The task of a teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people. — K. Patricia Cross

Sweet Memories

I started my teaching career in 1960 at Jaffna Holy Family Convent English School. I just couldn’t imagine in my wildest dreams that I would be an English teacher at my Alma Mater, with the teachers who taught me, plus having the privilege of teaching my teachers’ kids. I started at the primary and ended up at the upper school. Not one day in my life have I regretted going into the teaching profession. I felt it was a blessing— my goal always was to become a teacher and my dream had come true

When I was a student, I used to play “school” with my younger siblings and relatives. My ten years of teaching the babies from grade one until they reached grade five were the most memorable, unforgettable, and indescribable, moments which I still cherish.

After my retirement, so many of my students (not only in Canada, but in other parts of the globe as well), approach me with their children and even their grandchildren. They are able to recognize me, and right away they would say “You haven’t changed a bit, ” and “we cannot forget the good old days at the primary.” They would even call over their husbands and introduce me to them. They also tell them how patiently I tolerated their pranks.

The reason Holy Family English Convent is unique in so many ways is because of the values and morals that were taught to us by the Irish nuns. I owe all the love, respect and praise I get from my dear students to these wonderful nuns who I cherish even today. These Irish Nuns who came from another continent sacrificed their time and energy in a country where Tamil was a foreign tongue for them”. They were the people who founded the Institution. Although they couldn’t speak Tamil, they tried their best to understand it. Even for the kids who came from non-English speaking backgrounds, they left school learning the second language.

Cheers to our Irish Nuns, and showers of blessings onto them and their families.

A teacher affects eternity; he/she can never tell where his/her influence stops. — Henry Brooks Adams



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