Dr. Harris Sam Sahayam Lawrence was an Indian educationalist born in Tamil Nadu. Being appointed as the special officer for restructuring Educational pattern in Tamil Nadu and as Director Of School Education, Lawrence implemented the 10+2+3 pattern of education in 1978. During 1993-94, he was appointed as the Chairman of a High Level Committee on Vocational education solved the problem of salaries of vocational teachers and established a sound structure for vocational education in Tamil Nadu. He was honored with the title of “Father of Vocational Education in Tamil Nadu”. His autobiography The Hand of God My Life and Times was published in 2004.
Lawrence obtained a B.A. Honors in History and Economics from College of Fine Arts in Trivandrum. He was selected for an overseas scholarship scheme which was sponsored by the Government of India and secured a place at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. He completed his M.A. and Doctor of Education (Ed.D) degrees in 1950.
Lawrence was appointed as a Lecturer in a Government Training College in Calicut from 1951-53. He gave lectures on Educational Psychology and Educational Sociology. Also, he was a Lecturer in a Government Training College in Vellore from 1955-56. Later he promoted to the post of principal. He served as the principal of the college in Vellore from 1960-63. The State Institute of Education was founded by Dr. Lawrence in 1965. He served as the Director of State Institute of Education from 1965-69. This institute later developed into State Council of Education, Research and Training (SCERT) and now, as the Directorate of Teacher Education, Research and Training (DTERT) with all the teacher training institutes under it.
Appointed as the District Educational officer of three districts namely, Madurai (1953-54) , South Malabar (1954-55) and Nilgiris (1956-60) and also as Divisional Inspector of Schools Madras Division 1963-65, Lawrence undertook tremendous work to ensure the improvement of infrastructure, increasing mid-day meal centers and progress of literacy programs. Serving as the Director of Education of Tamil Nadu (1976-78), Lawrence brought a few matriculation schools affiliated to Madras and Madurai Universities under a separate board of Matriculation with him as the chairman, thus regarded as the Founder Chairman of Board of Matriculation Studies. Government of Afghanistan and Director General of UNESCO appointed Dr. Lawrence as a UNESCO Expert on Teacher Education to Government of Afghanistan, Kabul from 1969-1975. He contributed to the upgrading of the curriculum of teacher training, organisation of student teaching, conducting post graduate courses, selection of teacher candidates through examinations and teacher educators for post graduate fellowships abroad and introduction of Educational television at the Academy.
His special contributions include: Panel Inspection of Higher Secondary schools by College Professors, Voluntary supply of radios to school, Survey of Unrecognized Schools, Introduction of book banks, Medals for toppers in public examination, Good Conduct Prizes.