Cooperative Movement in Jaffna District 1911 – 1970

by Kanthappoo Paraiiothayan, 1990

Cooperative Movement in the Jaffna District 1911 to 1970


Using the problem analysis method advanced by Professor Brian Holmes,the study looks into the politico—economic and socio-cultural factors that gave special significance to the Cooperative Movement in the Jaffna District of Sri Lanka when it was introduced nation—wide at the beginning of this century.

With an intellectual tradition going back to at least five centuries and intensive educational activity by Christian
missionaries since Portuguese times (1590), Jaffna enjoyed a lead over the rest of the country in the matter of educational provision and overall attainment.

English education serving as a catalyst to raise the aspirations of the people, they naturally looked to new opportunities to better their economic prospects. The expanding public service, both in Ceylon as well as in Malaya and Singapore, opened new avenues of employment.

The increasing demand for English education was met by a system of grant—aid to mission schools, which was exploited adequately by the people of Jaffna who were aware of the value of education, English education in particular, and were also amenable, by virtue of their socio—cultural orientation, to the new mores of English culture.

The introduction of the Cooperative Credit Movement in 1911 came as a boon to the subsistence farmers of Jaffna who had been exploited for generations under traditional institutions.

The cooperative credit societies, in addition to their contribution to the economic life of the community, also served as schools of democracy, as well as the training ground for leadership at the village level.l


Current day cooperative society in Malaysia

Under the leadership of the English educated, mainly teachers, lawyers and Malayan—returned pensioners, supervisory institutions were established at an early stage to foster the development of the Cooperative Movement, in particular the Jaffna Cooperative Provincial Bank (Secondary) and the Northern Division Cooperative Federation (Tertiary).

While examining the conditions necessary for cooperative development, the study focuses on the policies of the Northern Cooperative Movement, including an evaluation of the educational policies and programmes of the Northern Division Cooperative Federation.

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