John Henry de Saram
John Henry de Saram (J.H. De Saram) (1889 - 13 June, 1942) is the Founder of 1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group and the first native Chief Commissioner of Ceylon Scout Movement (Sri Lanka Scout Association) from 1930 to 1942.
John Henry de Saram was born in 1889 as the eldest son of Philip Peter de Saram of Uruwela Walauwwa. He was educated at Dharmaraja College and later took to teaching at the same school.
It was John Henry de Saram, who founded the [1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group]] in 1913, just after 6 years of birth of World Scout Movement. It was due to the enthusiasm and drive of the then Principal, Mr. K. F. Billimoria, & Saram becom the first group Scout Leader of the Dharmaraja Scout Group.
In 1930 Dharmaraja Scouting carried a niche in the history, when their founder Mr. J. H. de Saram was appointed as the first Native Chief Commissioner of National Scout Association. He rendered a yeoman service to the scout movement for a successful and continuous 12 years.
After his appointment to the Education Department he served in various parts of the island and realized the need for introducing scouting in rural areas. This led to scout troops being set up in many villages and estates. But it was only after he became Scout Commissioner that he embarked on one of the boldest educational adventures in the scouting world. He persuaded the government to give the association 20 acres of land off Kalutara to set up a school-cum-farm-cum-vocational training centre that would cater to the needs of youth from all walks of life. In no time, boys from every community were applying to join.
A few miles inland from the Kalutara Junction, a large area of jungle land was acquired and partially cleared. Soon roads were built & long log cabin–like dorms were put up for the pioneering community which began to grow in numbers. Boys from all walks of life were enrolled, the majority from less affluent families. Teachers were recruited and normal educational courses were conducted. In addition, what were perhaps the first vocational education training programs were started here – welding, mechanical engineering, carpentry, handicraft, art and so on.
But uniquely, the whole place was run on scout principles and every student was first and foremost a scout. This experiment was highly successful and produced young men able to face their future with optimism. In 1942 with the war getting ever closer to Ceylon it all came to an end. The Colony was taken over as the police training school. The colony was moved to Mirigama but it was never the same.
Saram was married with 4 children.
To honor his memory
Memorial Statue of the J.H.De Seram was unveiled on 18th February 2013, at the RISGO Centennial 2013 by his son J.H.De Saram(Jr).
John Henry De Saram Memorial Scholarship Fund
The John Henry De Saram Memorial Scholarship Fund is to be established in memory of late J. H. de Saram (founder of Dharmaraja Scouting) to assist President Scout Badge winners in completing their education at Dharmaraja College, Kandy.
Scholarship Fund is created in the 2013 and is continue to be sustained through the generosity of John Henricus de Saram’s family.
Eligibility: The applicants must fulfill each of the following requirements to be considered eligible:
- Dharmaraja College Students aged below 20 years.
- Have won a President Scout Badge representing 1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group.
- Have gained highest marks at the GCE Advanced Level examination for university entrance among the President Scout Badge winners in any stream.
Selection Committee: Appointed by the Principal, Dharmaraja College, Kandy.
This inaugural J.H.De Saram Memorial Scholarship was awarded at the 2013 Annual Prize Giving on the 12th of July, 2013.