Sri Palee College in Horana is one of the main mixed schools in Sri Lanka. The number of students are over 5,000. There are classes from grade 1 to 13.
Inspired by Guru Dev Rabindranath Tagore a great writer, artist and an educationist of India, and his university at Shanthi Niketan later called Visva Bharathi University, Mr. Wilmot A. Perera, a revolutionary educationist and a politician of Sri Lanka, decided to establish a similar institution in Ceylon, and invited Gurudev Tagore to lay the foundation stone for the institution, which Tagore named Sri Palee (place where the goddess of fine arts lives). This was laid on 20 May 1934, in Horana.
At present, the principal, 140 academic staff and 20 non-academic staff operate at the college. The education medium is Sinhala and English medium is being introduced. English is taught as secondary language in all classes. Sri Palee is like any other government school in the island and subjects are taught according to the government curriculum. Science, mathematics and commerce streams are available at secondary educational level.
The founder of Sri Palee College was a proprietor planter – Mr. Wilmot A. Perera. His father was Abraham Perera who was known as the King of Rubber in Raigam and Pasdun Counties and was the richest person in the area as he got a massive income through rubber due to an agreement between a British company and him. Wilmot A. Perera was born on 12 June 1905. He was educated at Cyril Jansze College at Panadura and later at Royal College Colombo. He thought of studying archaeology, but after his father’s demise he was compelled to look after his properties and became a planter. He became a successful planter and married Esme Perera Abeywardena, a lady from a wealthy family in Galle, and a grand daughter of the late Sir Charles Henry de Soysa, philanthropist.
As a planter he had to mingle with labourers in estates and the people of the area. He could see the grievances of poor people and their struggle to live. He truly felt sorry for these people and made surveys to discover the reasons for their hardships. As a result of this effort he wrote the book Problems of Rural Ceylon. To find solutions for those problems he established for the first time a rural development society in Raigam Korale. He also believed in free education for the sons and daughters of the poor. To make all his ideas a reality he established Sri Palee College at Horana in Sri Lanka, based on the model of Shanthi Niketan in West Bengal, India. He was the first to start giving a midday meal to the pupils.
As a Leftist, Wilmot Perera was involved in the “Suriyamal” movement during the World War II period and later became a Member of Parliament for the Matugama electorate in the 1st general election in 1947. He won the same electorate in 1952 as well. In 1957 he became the first Sri Lankan ambassador to China. He was the chairman of the Wilmot A. Perera Salaries commission. He died in 1973.