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Mary's Church, Grand Street in Negombo by his grand uncle Rev. Fernando started his education at Gonsalves Maha Vidyalaya in the hamlet of Bolawatte before moving on to St.Mary's College, Negombo where he became the head prefect, games captain, 1st XI cricket captain and athletics captain.
Having entered the Sri Lanka Navy, Fernando successfully completed his basic professional training at Naval and Maritime Academy in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.He is a recipient of diplomas in Diplomacy, International Relations and Computer Science.He is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a life member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka and the Institute of Supply and Materials Management of Sri Lanka.He joined the Sri Lanka Navy as an Officer Cadet on 1 October 1979 straight from college, becoming the first to do so from the Puttlam District.He is a graduate (Class 45) of the Naval War College of the United States where he was the first Sri Lankan military officer to be elected Student President.He obtained a Masters in Management from the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University in 2003. He won an Olympic Scholarship Grant from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and became the first Sri Lankan Sports Administrator to receive a fully pledged Masters in Sports Management.
He is a graduate of the Class XVI of IOC's renowned MEMOS Programme.
Fernando also obtained a Diploma on Conflict Resolution from the University of Peace in 2006.
Rear Admiral Shemal Fernando, RSP, USP, MSc, psc, FCMI, was a Sri Lankan naval officer in the Supply branch, athlete, sports administrator and journalist.
He retired as the Director General Administration at Naval Headquarters.
Previously, he served as the Director General Logistics, Director General Budget & Finance and as the Naval Secretary.
Joseph Conrad Shemal Fernando was born on 16 December 1959 in Negombo and was christened on Christmas Day of the same year at St. Born to Camillus Fernando a notable sportsman and Freeeda Dabrera, he is the eldest in a family of four children.