Zahira College, Mawanella

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Zahira College Mawanella
  • சாஹிரா கல்லூரி மாவனெல்ல
MottoDiscipline, Dynamism, Dexterity
PrincipalM. M. Jawad
ColoursMaron White & Blue    

Zahira College, Mawanella (also referred to as Mawanella Zahira) is a Muslim selective entry co - educational school in Mawanella, Sri Lanka. College started as a result of the educational reform that was brought along with the 1920 political reforms. The school was started as a religious school in a cadjan shed which belonged to the Hinguloya Masjidul Huda. It is currently the one of the largest Muslim educational institution in Sri Lanka with more than 4000 students studying there.[1] The college is situated at the heart of Mawanella situated next to Masjidul Huda . Zahira means Excellence in Arabic.


The birth of the college was a result of the educational reform that was brought along with the 1920 political reforms. The school was started as a religious school in a cadjan shed which belonged to the Hinguloya Masjidul Huda. Mr. V. Samuel from Mannar was appointed as the first teacher. On 23 March 1921, the school which was named Hinguloya Tamil Mixed School was registered as a Government School and the first student registered was late Dr. A. T. M. A. Azeez. Late A. M. Abdul Rahman Marikkar and A. M. Majeed Marikkar constructed the building for the school. But until 1943, there was no notable progress to be seen and the classes were only up to Grade Five. In 1943 Grade Six class was started and since then many incidents worthy of mentioning commenced in the history of the school. In 1928, the late Mr. D. L. M. Haniffa was appointed as a Monitor Teacher to the school. Being young and enthusiastic, in the field of education and social consciousness, he played an important role in the development of the school. As a result of his untiring efforts, the S.S. C. Class was started in 1946. There were only four students in the class. Pandithar S. Sangarapillai of Chawakachcheri taught all the subjects to these students and made two of them get through the examination. One of them was former Principal of Zahira late Mr. M. C. M. Riyal and the other, late Mr. Rafeek who served as a Vice Principal of the school for some time. The result of these students brought enthusiasm in education and an awakening feeling in the school.

Factors influencing establishment[edit]

A historic public speech made by M. C. Siddhi Lebbe in 1891 at the Maradana Mosque Hall (which later became to be the college mosque) and his appeal to the Muslim community to unite and promote the educational advancement of the community led to the formation of the Colombo Muslim Educational Society. The first Secretary was I. L. M. Abdul Aziz and Arasi Marikar Wapchie Marikar was the first Treasurer and Head Master. With the help of Ahamed Orabi Pasha, an Egyptian exile in Ceylon and freedom fighter, the long cherished dream of Al-Madrasathul Zahira was established. In 1894 the school was registered as a grant-in-aid school Maradana Mohammedan Boys School. After establishing the Zahira College, Colombo the school was established here for the development of the Muslim community in the region as Zahira College, Mawanella.

Progress from 1952 to 1990[edit]

The period between 1952 and 1957 was also an important period in the history of Zahira College. The Head Master from Maruthamunai Mr. K. M. Samsudeen worked hard not only in the evening but also during the holidays for the improvement of the school. It is noteworthy to state that it was during his period that girls were given admission to the school which was denied to them earlier. This enabled many young girls to get teaching appointments. The next Principal was Marhoom A. A. M. Samsudeen Hajiar from Beruwela. It was during his tenure of office the school was upgraded as a Maha Vidyalaya. With this Mr. H. M. Haniffa assumed duties as the new Principal. Many devoted teachers joined the staff. Buildings came up and the number of students on roll too increased. The school started the Science Stream after obtaining the Science Laboratory through the help of the then Minister of Education late Mr. AL Haj. Badiudeen Mahmood. The services rendered by late Dr. AL Haj. A. D. M. A. Azeez, AL Haj Marhoom M. K. M. Buhary, AL Haj Mr. A. M. S. Marikkar, late Mr. Al Haj M. C. M. Machkeen and many others who worked immensely for this purpose should be praised. During this period the school was named as Mawanella Zahira Maha Vidyalaya and with the appointment of the first graduate teacher, Mr. M. I. Haja Ameer, the G. C. E A/L classes were started around 1963. One of the students of this batch Al Haj Mr. Y. L. M. Razik, a former Principal of the school was the first to enter the University and became a graduate. The services rendered by teacher Karainahar Poet Sundarempillai (B. A London), Mr. Sellaiyah of Pungududeewu are worthy of praise and appreciation.

After Mr. H. M. Haniffa left the school to take up the appointment of School Inspector, late Mr. D. L. M. Haniffa who was affectionately called as ‘Aashiriyar Thanthai’ (Father of Teachers) assumed duties as the Principal during his last years of service. The enthusiasm with which he worked to serve this school even in his last years of service should be appreciated. Many building blocks were constructed during his period. Mr. D. L. M. Haniffa was succeeded by Mr. H. M. Thaiyoob. He reorganized the G. C. E. A/L classes and has the credit of sending a student to the University. The Principal who assumed duties in 1967, Mr. M. I. Haja Ameer was a former teacher of this school and was responsible for starting the G. C. E A/L classes. He showed the right path – the path that was beneficial. He was strict and a good administrator during his tenure of office.

Another important stage of the school dawned with Mr. M. S. A Wahid assuming duties as the Principal of the school in 1968. He had a vigorous personality and was able to win the hearts of his students, his staff of teachers, parents, and well-wishers and soon became "Wahid Master" for all. Almost everything he did became a success. He made Zahira prominent and popular in the country. It is not wrong to say that the educational achievements of Zahira reached its peak during his tenure as the Principal. Quite a number of students gained admission to the Arts Faculties of the universities. We mention with gratitude that most of the graduates serving in various parts are the products of his period at Zahira. We are also duty bound to mention the names of efficient teachers of the caliber like Mr. A. V.V. Gomes, the writer, and Pandithar Murugesu who served the school. During the last stages of his tenure, in addition to obtaining electricity supply, Science, Maths and Commerce A/L classes were started.

AL Haj Mr. A. C. M. Zehirdeen from Matale, who succeeded him, was a strict and a good administrator. Therefore, the various sections of the school functioned in an orderly manner. Though many services had been done during the period of this efficient Principal, they are not available in the record to mention here. Mr. I. L.M. Shihabdeen who succeeded him in 1974 did many services until he left in 1979. Sir Markan Markar Hall constructed at that time is the first two-storeyed building block of this school. Further, he brought graduate teachers from outstations to conduct special classes for G.C.E.A/L students. The first School Band was formed and he obtained the necessary instruments for it. Grades 10, 11 were made a special section under a Sectional Head and this enabled to obtain good results in the G. C. E. O/L Examination beginning from 1979. A student was selected to the medical faculty for the first time during his tenure. After the transfer of Mr. Shihabdeen Mr. M. C. M. Riyal succeeded him for some time and it was then the primary section building was constructed.

The next stage is the assumption of duty by Mr. M. S. A. Wahid again as the Principal. The services rendered to the school by him until 08.12.1985 shall never fade away from our memories. A concrete wall was built around the school compound, the road within the school was improved and with a gate constructed, a security service to the school was started. The slacking administration of the school at that time gained vigour with his arrival. He reorganized G. C. E. A/L classes to obtain better results. He also made a playground for the school with the co-operation of the public and Inter-House sports meets were conducted for several years in order to develop sports in the school. After Mr. Wahid retired Mr. Y. L. M. Razik assumed duties as Principal temporarily, which was later made permanent. With the co-operation of the S. D. S, O. B. A and well-wishers he followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Mr. Wahid. He organized the administration and thereby paved the way for the development of this school in all its spheres. The results of the Grade 5 Scholarship Examination, G. C. E O/L and A/L results became records in his time. The school was second only to leading schools like Ananda, Nalanda, and Royal. The school was upgraded to the status of Central College. The service done by Dr. Hameed A. Azeez and the former Minister for Building Construction Mr. Chandra Ranatunge to obtain this status should be mentioned here.

This essay would not be enough to describe the significance of this period. Therefore, Mr.Y.L.M. Razik and the SDS of that time are worthy of praise. During his time, Mohamed Naleer Mohamed Arafath, a grade 8 student represented Sri Lanka Under 19 soccer team at Colombo SAF Games and was the only goal scorer to lead Sri Lanka to taste the victory against India.

After 1990 to present[edit]

Mr M. I. Ismail who took charge of the school next moved sociably with his staff, parents and students and did many services to the school that was within his capacity. The period from 14 October 1996 to 4 May 1997 when M. R. M. Zackariya was the Principal of the school is also an unforgettable period in the history of the school. Being active and young he took many steps to remedy the shortcomings that prevailed at that time. An additional fifth class was given to the primary classes where there were only four earlier. Thereby the number of students increased in the Primary section. During his tenure, the school was upgraded as a National School. Amplifier facilities were provided and the new playground was made with the sacrifice and tireless services of M.S.M.Kamil, an old boy and a well-wisher, with the support of the Labour Minister Hon. Athauda Senavirathne and the Pavilion was named after the minister. When twenty-two teachers retired from service at the same time, he was able to fill the gap without creating problems to the educational activities or the administration of the school. Further, he made the canteen function in two sections in order to avoid congestion.

When Mr. A.K.M.Fouz who functioned as the Principal from 5 May 1997 to 18 January 1999 assumed duties; there was a tense situation in the school. But, he was able to face all the challenge with his calm disposition. He invited the Honourable Minister of Health Nimal Siripala De Silva to declare open the Dental Clinic.

Further, he organized an Educational exhibition on a grand scale successfully. Moreover, to improve G.C.E. O/L Maths results, he successfully organized special evening group classes for the students who were weak in Mathematics. These are worthy of mentioning here. Further with the aid obtained from the Saudi Arabian Islamic Development Bank, he was able to obtain instruments and machinery for Construction Technology. And many more services that could be understood by many have been done during his time.

It was during the tenure of his successor Mr. M.H.M.Nizar, that the O.B.A. and the O.G.A. of the school were formed. These associations have done much service and continue to do so. Mr. M.C.Nizardeen assumed duties on 5 July 2000. Though many great services have been done during his time and even though he works tirelessly, it is sad that those services are invisible for many. Computer Learning Centre, Special Education Unit, the Sports Pavilion, the land purchased for the school, the introduction of Hockey, Rugger, Cricket, Carrom to the school sports which enabled our students to participate at national levels, Audio Visual Unit, the wire net fence along the side of the mosque, two classrooms, the photocopier, the Geographer (Digital Printing Machine), the organization of the office room, the G.C.E. A/L Science laboratory, the best A/L results recorded in the history of the school, Rs. 800,000 worth curtain for the auditorium, water supply service and electricity connection to the unconnected areas, the Cultural Hall that has been erected with the help of I.I.R.O., the primary section building block with 30 modern classrooms obtained by inviting the Korean Ambassador with the support and sacrifices of Mr.M.S.M.Kamil, are some of the services of his time. Another after him his successor Marhoom I Abdul Hakeem, brought a vast change to the school, education, school environment and the logo of the school which prevailed for the long period was changed. The school was traveling towards a rapid development in curricular and extracurricular activities. He was a remarkable and courageous gentleman, never bowing down to any external forces or so-called Islamic movements. Unfortunately, the school lost this great personality in an accident.

His successor Mr Naeem Marrikkar, too, followed the footprints of the previous principal. After him, MR I.A Usana overtook his duties as the principal but due to some unavoidable reasons, the school had give up the principal. Again Mr. Nizardeen who once served as the principal took the responsibility too serves the school.


Most of the teachers who serve the school are the ones who were once the student of Mother Zahira. The school is filled with pride due to the dedication and hard work of the teachers who mold the students for a better future.


Year Award Place Principal Details
2018 National Productivity Award Third Place M M Jawad Naleemi School Sector

Societies and clubs[edit]

  • Students' Media Forum
  • Cadets
  • Prefect Guild
  • ICT Society
  • Interact Club

Passtout students forums[edit]

  • Old Zahirians Media Association - OZMA
  • Old Cadet Association - OCA
  • Zahirians Rugby Union - ZRU
  • Zahira Old Basketball Association - ZOBBA
  • Old Zahirians Alumni- xZahirians


  • Football - The college is proud to have one of the best teams in land of Mother Lanka
  • Rugby - Rugby have awarded as a Best Rugby team in Subragamuwa province
  • Basketball - 2009, 2010 Province Runner-up's and the Champions of Kegalle District
  • Karate - Recently started Extra curricular Program for Students
  • Volleyball
  • Athletic - College has made lot of island champions in athletic such as short distance runners, jawline throwers, high jumpers etc.


External links[edit]