It is recorded in books written about the historical facts on the cooperative movement that for the first time in the world, the first consumer cooperative society was established by coal mine workers at Richdale in Lancashire in England in 1844. But there are evidences, before 1795 in Germany there existed credit cooperative societies named Rupoin and Suls. When the meaning of cooperative is taken, it is the result of efforts of people who faced with equal economic and social problems getting together solve them by spending labour , time and money to fulfill these needs. When it is take in that context though it was not named as cooperative society, there are so many evidences that a society with those features existed in Sri Lanka since ancient times. Isn’t it wonderful that constructing Wewas and Dagobas as cooperative efforts of people who were living in ancient Sri Lankan society.
Commencement of lending cooperative societies in Sri Lanka
There are evidences that two mutual providence societies with the features of cooperative society existed in Dumbara valley in Kandy and Weligama in Galle. These were the first lending cooperative societies registered under first Cooperative Ordinance 1911 No.2. There were several reasons for establishment of lending cooperative societies in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan village community faced with problem of poverty and indebtedness owing to the commencement of crop cultivation as states instead of prevailed self-sufficient agriculture system after Sri Lanka became a British colony in 1815. To solve this problem of poverty and indebtedness, a Commission was established under an Englishman named Crowfort. It tried to find solutions to redeem indebtedness by establishing lending societies at village level. As a result of this for the first time lending cooperative ordinance No.12, 1911 came to light.
Inception of Education Cooperative Society
Establishment of this society, named at present as Education Services Employees’ Thrift and lending Cooperative Society Limited goes back to the year 1930. According to the documentary evidences available in the society, establishment of this cooperative society in the Education Department occurred on 15th July 1930. On that day the meeting was organized and chaired by the Director of Education, Lionel McDomel, in the Department of Education which prevailed during that time.
It was recorded that the first general meeting was held at the ministry office in Colombo on September 16, 1930. Commencement contribution was Rs.1.00 and Monthly contribution was According to the salary drawn by Education Department employees as given below.
Monthly salary Rs.100.00 to Rs.199.00 contribution Rs.5.00
Monthly salary Rs.200.00 to Rs.299.00 contribution Rs.10.00
At the beginning this society was named as Education Department Lending Cooperative Society. There were 58 members by 30th November 1930. This society could be named as an active national level cooperative society gaining victories as well as some defeats, many troubles and harassments receiving bouquets and brickbats. As a thrift and savings cooperative society, the member is induced to save money and given 10% interest for the savings.
When examining old balance sheets, it is clear that deposits by savings have been deposited mainly in Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, State Mortgage Bank, Savings Bank of Sri Lanka and Charted Bank. The first chairman was Mr. Sandiman, an Englishman. After him another Englishman named Mr. H.W. House had worked as the chairman.
Expansion of work of the society
The foremost business of the society was to increase the savings of the officers of the work places in the Department of Education. A project was operated to offer insurance policies to the members by several insurance companies.
Until 1952 work of the society was carried out voluntarily by the committee. With the expansion of role and number of members, it was difficult to do all the transactions of the society by the committee. Therefore employing paid employees was started in 1952. The work force approved for the society by Cooperative Development Commissioner was108 in 1976.Theapproved workforce in 1990 was 349 and it was increased up to 469 by the year 1998. By 2010 approved work force is 508 and the number of all the employees of the society is about 570.
Prominent changes in ruling
Until 1950 from the beginning, the office of the chairman was held by an Englishman. It was a significant event that a Sri Lankan was appointed as the chairman in 1950. It went to history that the first Sri Lankan chairman was to be Mr. S.F. De Silva, who was a Director of Education.
An interim ordinance was approved in 1972. Granting loans came into force with this interim ordinance. By this interim ordinance, it was adopted to nullify appointing a chairman by virtue of official and resolved to appoint a management committee consisting the chairman, six vice chairmen and 27 committee members above 21 years of age by the vote of members at the general assembly. In addition to this 3 members to the administrative committee can be appointed by the Cooperative Development Commissioner at his discretion. They can be appointed even as the chairman or for any other office.
As mentioned above by the interim ordinance 1972, the existing name of the society as Education Department Thrift and Savings Society was amended as Education Employees' Thrift and Lending Cooperative Society Limited. Under the Cooperative Reorganizing Bill 1970 passed by the1970 ruling Government, The Commissioner has appointed three member ruling body for the society.
While maintaining this ruling body, under the approved interim ordinance 1972 action was taken to appoint a ruling body by vote. As a result of this by 1975 the chairman, vice chairman and 20 honorary committee members, the secretary and vice secretary were appointed by votes of members.
Honorary President - Mr. L. Ariyawansa
Vice Presidents - Mr. D. K. Palihawadana
Honorary Secretary - Mr. D. G. Y. Kulatunga
Vice Secretary - Mr. B. G. Marasingha
Mr. G. John Fernando
Mr. P. DewasiriPerera
Mr. W. J. Bandupala
Mr. A. D. R. Jayasuriya
Mr. M. C. Gunapala
Again the power vested on the Commissioner, under Cooperative Society (Special Provision) BillNo.12 1978, the society was ruled by chairmen appointed by the commissioner and a committee consisting 9 members appointed by vote in 1979, 1980 and 1981.
01. Mr. D. B. Perera - Chairman
02. Mr. WickramaHennayaka - Secretary
03. Mr. D. B. Perera - Vice Chairman
04. Mr. R. H. Silva - Vice Chairman
05. Mr. T. K. Karunaratna - Vice Secretary
06. Mr. A. Musamil
07. Mr. K. G. Camilas Fernando
08. Mr. M. W. J. Fernando
09. Mr. N. Nadaraja
10. Mr. A.R. M. SarathAmarasooriya
Due to the large amount of money spending on holding general assembly every year, the amended ordinance was revised with the full approval of the Commissioner to hold the general assembly every three years from 1980.
In recent history, Years 1992 and 1993 were the turning point of the administration of the society. During this period the political situation in the country greatly influenced the administration of the society. On 20th July 1992 action was taken by the Cooperative Development Commissioner using the power vested on him to appoint a new Board of Directors by summoning a special general assembly.
The three-member ruling committee appointed by Gazette Notification on 21st July 1992 decided to hold an election and action was taken to hold elections on District basis and appoint representatives for the general assembly. In March 1993, a Director board of 15 members came to power. Mr. J. Jayasinghe worked as the president and Mr. G. D. Dahanayaka worked as the secretary.
During the administration of this board of Directors, legal actions were taken against Director Board members and employees who worked unfavorably to the society and given priority to fund raising activity by curbing waste and corruption. According to the interim ordinance after every two and half years a new Board of Directors should be appointed and therefore arrangements were made to hold an election based on Educational Divisions in the first quarter of 1995 to appoint a new Board of Directors.
Mr. N. G. Dharmasena was elected to the Chairman post in March 1996. Although the members of the Director Board were collecting Fixed Deposits for the future and providing better services to members during their ruling period, the Board of directors elected was suspended by court injunction in year 2000 for not holding an election in due time. On account of this the Commissioner appointed the following interim ruling body to conduct the society.
Honorary Chairman - Mr. R. P. Dharmasena (Deputy Cooperative Development Commissioner)
Honorary Secretary - Mr. Wimal Weerasekara (Lecturer, Polgolla Cooperative College)
Honorary Vice Chairman - Mr. R. M. Wijenayaka Rajapaksa (Director of Education)
Thereafter from time to time, several interim ruling bodies were appointed by the co-operative commissioner. During this period only lending process and continuing projects stated before 2000 were carried out. Two provincial Offices in Badulla and Kandy were established.
However, under Court order an island wide one day election was held organized by the co-operative commissioner on29th March 2008, and at this election 'Our Group' was elected with 2/3 representation and held ruling power of Education Cooperative Society from 3rd January 2009 to 29th April 2011.
The elected Board of Directors
Honorary Chairman - Mr. Mahindawansa Jayasinghe S. P. S.
Honorary Secretary - Mr. M. G. L. Lalkumara
Honorary Vice Chairman - Mr. NimalAriyawansa
Honorary Vice Secretary - Mr.A. B. G. B. Gangoda
Honorary Vice Chairman - Mr. K. M. Abeyratna
Honorary Vice Secretary - Mr. M. G. S. Chandrakumara
Honorary Provincial Director - Mr. Sunil Premathilaka
Honorary Provincial Director - Mr. Y. G. Jayaweera
Honorary Provincial Director - Mr. N. A. Wimalasiri
Honorary Provincial Director - Mr. H. G. Dharmadasa
Honorary Provincial Director - Mr. H. A. K. Karunaratna
Honorary Provincial Director - Mr. P. V. G. Nandana
Honorary Provincial Director - Mr. P. C. Warushamana
Honorary Provincial Director - Mr. PathmaBanduDisanayake
This Board of Directors face with Court Injunction on 29.04.2011 and a new interim ruling body was appointed by the Cooperative Commissioner.
However, under Court order an island wide one day election was held organized by the co-operative commissioner on 14th May 2016, and at this election again 'Our Group' was elected with 92% representation and held ruling power of Education Cooperative Society from 11thJune 2016.