Zahira’s first 100 years


In Mr. A. M. A. Azeez who assumed duties on 21st of August, 1948. Zahira indeed found a worthy successor who accepted his new duties with zest and enthusiasm and began a new era under the brightest of auspices. The school had 1400 pupils and 90 teachers to start with. With a highly qualified and competent staff, the school was able to reach high standard in the accamdemic field right from the beginning itself. In successive University Entrance Examination Zahira College maintained a high standard.

The numbers rose from 1400 to 2000. Zahira could not afford to shut out any eligible Muslim boy seeking admission. However admission was open to students of all communities. At one time 40% of the students in the post-primary classes were non-Muslims.

To provide increased accommodation an old shed was converted into a set of classrooms at a cost of Rs. 12,000/- donated by A. E. M. Sulaiman. Extensions were made to the kindergarten block by M/s P. B. Umbichy, Iqbal block to house primary classes was constructed from the proceeds of Crescent Lights Carnival 1953. The Ghaffoor Hall was converted into eight classrooms with the Hall above at a cost of Rs. 43,000/- collected from the Zahira College Building Fund Sweep.

The construction of the ground flow for the New Hostel Building was completed in 1950. A block of 3 classrooms was donated by Mr. Muttuwappa. In 1957 the Practical Education Building construction was started with a loan of Rs. 80,000/- from the Education Department. Construction of the Library (Ceylon Muslim Cultural Centre) was commenced with a donation of Rs. 75,000/- from Asia Foundation and Rs. 25,000/- from Pakistan. A 20 years lease was entered into with the Small Mosque. In the field of sports Zahira continued to shine. In Cricket, Wrestling, Badminton, Table Tennis, Swimming, Zahira did well. Soccer and Rugger re-introduced. These teams toured India and Malaysia. In cadetting Zahira was always on top – Herman Loos Cup won in 1951 and 1955. M. H. Ameen won the Queen’s Cup. The Principal was in constant contact with the former Principal H. E. T. B. Jayah, High Commissioner for Ceylon in Pakistan. An OBA branch in Karachi was formed and donated Rs. 1,000/- for bulletin boards etc. Zahira had several eminent visitors from abroad. The sum up during this period 1948/1960 Zahira reaped the fruits of the labours of its great founders and pioneers and those who had managed and administered this institution in the past.

Examination results were quite good. – Achievements in the field of sports was maintained at a high level. Zahira as a Private Non-fee Levying Unaided School (01.12.1960 21.08.1961):

The country’s educational system was undergoing rapid changes. The Assisted schools and Training Colleges (Special Provisions) Act 5 of 1960 passed on 14th October, 1960 provided for the take-over of all assisted schools other than Grade One schools which elected to be non-fee levying unaided private schools outside the scheme. The Maradana Mosque had to decide whether to run Zahira as a private school without any aid from the government solely dependent on the benefactors of the College for funds or to hand over the school to the state.

On the 23rd of October, 1960 the Executive Committee, with the Principal too being present decide to run the school as an unaided school from 01st December, 1960.

Zahira College, became a private unaided non-fee levying school from 01st December, 1960 and functioned smoothly as such till July, 1961. On 16th of July, 1961 the contributors to the benefactors of Zahira Fund at a meeting convened by the Principal decided to wind up the Fund in view of the financial situation of the country at the time and inview of the promise by the government of the conversion of Zahira College into a Muslim University. The resolution indicated that the running of the school as an unaided school was not going to be smooth anymore.

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