The very first private Muslim school in Sri Lanka Zahira College, founded in 1892, is the largest Muslim educational institution in Sri Lanka today, with more than 4,900 students and 250 teachers. The College, situated in the heart of Colombo was built on the grounds adjoining one of the oldest mosques in Sri Lanka, the Maradana mosque.
Zahira College Colombo which has been in existence for 121 years is a well established and well known school in Sri Lanka. Spread over an 11-acre block of land in Maradana in the heart of Colombo, it has over the years been endowed with a number of buildings to house its infrastructure, a competition size playground, swimming pool, dental clinic, hostel, canteen, bookshop and students counselling room.
Under the stewardship of M. Fouzul Hameed who took over as Chairman of the Board of Governors in 2006, a well co-ordinated program to improve the standards of education, sports and extracurricular activities within the Islamic environment of the College has been carefully implemented with commendable success.
Whilst concentrating on improving the teaching standards of the teachers and teaching methodology (by training), tremendous efforts have been put in to improve the infra-structure of the College by completing four important buildings, namely the new science block building, the Al Makthoum building with eight classrooms, library and auditorium, the Desamanya M.T.A. Furkhan building with 22 classrooms, IT, library and auditorium facilities, and a state of the art swimming pool, all within the last four years.
Zahira College is one of the very few schools in Colombo which conducts classes in all three mediums; Sinhala, Tamil and English. The demand for entry to the school has now reached levels which far exceed the number of grade one students that can be taken each year.
Over the years Zahira College has built up a tremendous reputation for sports, participating regularly at inter school and national levels in cricket, rugby, soccer, athletics, hockey, swimming, table tennis and karate.
In the game of soccer which is now the popular sport at the college, Zahirian’s continue to maintain an unbeaten record winning tournaments and regularly emerging all-island school champions in all three age groups repeatedly for a number of years.
Both in cricket and in rugby, Zahira is one school that has its own nursery to identify and train at an early age talented cricketers and ruggerites.
The Principal of the college A.R.M. Trizvy Marikkar has taken it as a challenge to improve the results further in the grade five scholarship, O/level and A/level examinations each year, and for that purpose he and his team have introduced a series of new steps.
They are confident now that Zahira has an infra-structure that can compare with any one of the best schools in the island and with a teacher cadre to match, the future of the current approximately 4,900 boys who are educated at Zahira will be bright.
Fortunately, unlike in the past, the parents of the Zahira College students in recent times have shown tremendous interest which should help to produce better results. The Board of Governors is also planning to set up a modern hostel with up to date facilities to accommodate eminently capable students from outstations.
Although Zahira College is generally considered a Muslim school, admission has always been open to children of all denominations. Over the years, Zahira has produced a large number of non-Muslim students who have reached the highest echelons in the professional and academic world.
The Board of Governors of the college has consistently adopted an open policy for all communities, and as required by Islam respects all religions and all human beings as equals. With more than 50% of the teaching staff being non-Muslims there is excellent input from all communities in the co-ordinated efforts of Zahira. The college is now relentlessly pursuing a policy ‘in search of excellence’.