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NAAL: Netherlands Alumni Association of Lanka




Keeping in touch with alumni

Netherlands Alumni Associations in Asia

Especially in the post-1945 period, many overseas students have studied at universities in Western countries. The Netherlands faced the problem that the Dutch language formed a serious obstacle. In order to solve the language problem institutes which concentrated on post-graduate training were set up. An additional advantage has been that the brain drain phenomenon, linked to full-fledged training abroad, could be avoided. Participants must have a job to which they can return after finishing their one to two years' study in the Netherlands..

Some 600 courses are currently offered each year. More information on  these courses can  be found on  the following websites:







In an increasingly globalized world good networks are of prime importance. For this reason NUFFIC (The Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education) has been promoting the creation of Netherlands Alumni Associations (NAAs) most of them in Asia (Indonesia, Korea, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nepal, the Philippines, and Singapore). The most successful NAA operates in Sri Lanka and has 500 members. Its secretariat is accommodated in the Dutch Period Museum in Colombo, a former orphanage which was set up by the VOC (United Dutch East India Company) during the period that this company dominated the coastal provinces of Ceylon (1656-1796).

Alumni from Sri Lanka
With the assistance of the Netherlands Alumni Association of Lanka [NAAL], the orphanage was restored as a Dutch Period Museum and opened by President Jayewardena in 1982. Especially for a small country like the Netherlands which cannot (or does not want to) afford to appoint cultural attaches at smaller embassies, a Netherlands Alumni Association can function as a surrogate. In Sri Lanka the association has been active in organizing lectures, filmshows, exhibitions, and providing information on international programmes in the Netherlands. It has also been closely involved in the twinning arrangement between the Srilankan city of Galle and the Dutch municipality of Velsen. Velsen has assisted Galle with various projects such as the building of 50 houses for fishermen and two community centres. Galle is a city with many remains of the Dutch period in Sri Lanka. Inside the Dutch fort, which has been well maintained, there are still 400 houses dating back to VOC times. These buildings are of dual parentage, as their architecture betrays both European and Ceylonese influences. In 1987 the Galle fort was placed on the World Heritage list of the UNESCO.
In February 1995 an international seminar on European architecture was held in Colombo. As a follow-up eight Sri Lankan architects attended a three-month course on integrated urban revitalization and heritage in Sri Lanka at the Institute for Housing Studies in Rotterdam. Every year some 50 Sri Lankans attend an international programme in the Netherlands. The Stichting Nederland-Sri Lanka which was instrumental in raising funds for the restoration of the Dutch Period Museum keeps in touch with these participants and stimulates their join the NAAL on their return home.
In February 1996 the NAAL celebrated its 25th anniversary. Fostering alumni activities has proved to be a useful contribution to permanent links between academics all over the world.

The tsunami disaster of 2004 resulted in much extra work for the NAAL, since Velsen started a large fundraising campaign for her twin-city Galle which suffered a lot from the floods.

In addition to advising and supervising the distribution of funds, raised in Velsen, a special Tsunami Facility for Dutch Private Initiatives was set up in Colombo at the residence and under the guidance of Mr. S.P.C. Kumarasinghe, the President of NAAL.

In May 2006 the activities of this Facility came to a successful end.


Netherlands Alumni Association of Lanka (NAAL)
(open Monday to Friday: 09.00 - 15.00)      
C/o Dutch Period Museum       
95, Prince Street
Colombo 11
Tel./fax (0094) - (0)11 - 2 447 002









2008 Stichting Nederland-Sri Lanka