Al-Azhar Maha Vidyalaya, situated in the town of Hemmathagama in the Mawenella electorate of the Kegalle district in the Sabaragamuwa Province, was a boys’ school started around ninety-two years ago.
Marhoom Yoosuf, a trustee from the village Madulbowa, who was very much interested in the development of the region and the education, initiated the school on the 25th of March, 1917 with the name of ‘Wadiyathanna Boys’ School’ in a thatched cottage with seven students and a teacher in his own land.
The first student of this school was Marhoom Al-Haj Mubarak who later became an assistant teacher and the principal of the school. History proves that the development of this school had been very slow at the beginning; it became rapid after taken over by the government in 1920. The main reason for this was that the first Muslim principal Marhoom Noor Mohammed, who is the grand father of the Muslim Congress leader and minister Hon. Al Haj Rauff Hekeem, had financial resources to build up the school.
In due course the number of students increased in this boys’ school. However educational development could not be achieved due to lack of teachers in proportion to the increasing number of students. The teacher shortage was caused as new schools were established in the neighboring villages as well.
We can see the steps taken by the teachers who came on transfer from Galle, Weligama and Kahatowita regions in 1940s and 1950s to uplift the standard of education in the school.
Many people who were earnest in the enhancement of education in the area have worked hard to commence senior school certificate (SSC) class in this school. Mean while they tried to establish a permanent building for the school. In 1935 Yoosuf building was put up as the first permanent building. The founder of the school late Al- Haj. Yoosuf Trustee’s name was given to this building. During this period, late Abbas Aarachchiyar from Palliporuwa and many others have helped considerably. Further the present Bandaranayake hall is an outcome of the then members of the Parents Teachers Association in 1964 which is the second building of the school. This building was declared open by the then minister of education Hon P.P.G. Kalugalle. In this respect late Saly J.P form Kotegoda, late Al- Haj. Rasheed Cadi of Hijragama, Marhoom Saleem Maththisam of Wahukotuwa, late Abu Saahid Lebbe J.P of Wadiyathanna, Al- Haj Shareefudeen Trustee of Palliporuwa, Marhoom Al- Haj. Meezana Ariff of Hijragama, late M.H.M. Shareef, Al- Haj. Y.M.Saly and Marhoom Haneefa Aarachchiar should also be remembered. During the period of the Marhoom M.H.M.Rasheed principal S.S.C class was started and the Wadiyathanna Boys’ School was upgraded as a Muslim Maha Vidyalaya in 1960s. This could be the first step of development of this school. Next had been a historic era of the school in which an Indian descendant who is at present living in Negambo Al- Haj Haja Ameer was the principal in 1962. This is because in 1962 the first batch sat the G.C.E O/L and in 1963, 1964 and 1965 the best results in Kegalle region were produced and it is note worthy that the participation of national level co-curricular activities were taken place. In this respect specially the school had a pride of place in sports meets, district and national level Meeladunnabi competitions and in literary contests. In this period the name of the school was changed as Al-Azhar and the number of students increased due to the admission of students from the neighboring villages. Although GCE A/L arts stream was started in this time the students could not sit the examination owing to the shortage of graduate teachers.
In 1967 G.C.E A/L arts stream was started again during the time of the late Mr. M.H.M Rasheed principal and in 1969 six students sat the examination. It is noteworthy that three students entered the university at the very first attempt. Two of them completed there degrees in arts and the other in commerce from the university of Peradeniya. They are Hajiyaani M.S.S. Fawsiya, a senior teacher of the school at present, Mrs. M.A. Ummu Naseera, ISA Social Studies in Kurunegala education zone and the former accountant at the insurance co-operation Mrs. Fawzul Naeema.
In order to overcome the accommodation problem caused by the increasing number of students, 110 feet long Siththi Lebbe hall was built in 1967 with the sponsorship of the Parents Teachers Association. In this construction work the contribution of Al- Haj. Ziyad J.P of Hijragama is praiseworthy.
1971 is an unforgettable year in the history of Al-Azhar. Mr.M.S.A Wahid J.P principal’s services rendered for the development of physical and educational upliftment are noteworthy. Science section in 1971, commerce section in 1972 and A/L science section (H.N.C.E) in 1976 were started. Yoosuf building was changed as a temporary science laboratory with the then deputy minister of trade and shipping Hon. P.R.Rathnayake’s fund allocation and the patronage of parents. Akbar Hall was built to solve the accommodation problem. Further the long felt need of a play ground was found with the help of parents, teachers and students through a ‘shramadhana’ campaign. The land was obtained for this purpose from Al-Haj Abdul Wahid, Marhoom Yoosuf and late S.M Jawad Udayar, principal. Further during his period many students were selected to the university. In addition, these graduates later held the positions like Sri Lanka Administrative Service, bank managers, good principals and senior teachers. The first civil servant selected in this time was Hajiyani Bindhi Fahmiya Nisar.
Marhoom Al- Haj. S.M.Riyal principal assumed duties in 1983. Jaya Hall in 1983 and Chandra Hall in 1986 were constructed. During his administration former Member of Parliament for Mawanella electorate Hon.Chandra Ranthunga allocated fund for this building. Further the play ground of the school was extended and the Masthook Building was constructed in memory of the son of Marhoom Al- Haj.Sameem trustee in 1990. Many commerce graduates were produced in this time of administration due to reawakening in education. This school was upgraded as a 1AB school since A/L science class was started again. Marhoom Al- Haj. S.M.Riyal was promoted to Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service in 1990 and left the school.
School Old Boys’ Association was re-established and Mawanalla Pradeshiya Sabah member Mr. M.R.M.I Reeza was elected president.The then principal Mr. A.W.M Hussain in co-operation with the old boys and well-wishers constructed the 100 x 20 Old Boys’ Association building. Today this is called OBA building.
Al- Haj. M.J.M. Naeemudeen assumed duties in 1993 and his period of administration could be called a golden era of the school in which a rapid development in the field of education and physical recourses were brought to the school. Hon. Jayathilaka Podi Nilame the then Chief Minister who came to declare open the OBA building laid the foundation stone for the two story building of this school as well.
Al-Azhar Maha Vidyalaya was selected under the modern educational reform policy of Her Excellency the president Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumarathunga to develop the two selected schools in each divisional secretariat area which is called District School Development (D.S.D). It is noteworthy that 20 million rupees allocated by the government for this purpose. Further the untiring work of Al Haj M.J.M. Naeemudeen principal, the proposal of the former Sri Lanka Freedom Party organizer of Mawanella electorate Attorney at Law Hon. Winsent Peris and the minister Hon. Athawuda Senawirathna’s cooperation were opened the way to bring this school under D.S.D project. In addition to that because of the hard work of teachers, members of SDS, members of OBA and the member of the Pradeshiya Saba of that time Mr.M.M.N Imthiyas this project was ceremonially inaugurated by the then deputy minister of education Hon. John Senawirathne on the 26th September 1996.
More over in 1999 a library building and GCE O/L science laboratory were granted by the Chief Minister of Sabaragamuwa province Hon. Athawuda Senawirathne. Further it is noteworthy that school equipments and many other recourses were received to this school during Peoples Alliance regime under the D.S.D project.
It is during the administrative period of this principal that the students to medical and engineering faculties selected for the first time. Here Miss.M.H.F Nasmiya to medical faculty and Mr.M.M.F Maufer to engineering faculty were selected. Many science students received education during this period and opened the way to produce many science graduates in the area. More over an audio video unit and administrative building were also constructed in this time of administration.
The first stage of two story building was completed under the administration of Mr. A.C.M Azhar principal in order to solve the problem of accommodation, in 2002 due to the request of Sri Lanka freedom party organizer of Mawanwlla electorate Hon. Aananda Millangoda and by the allocation of fund by the Chief Minister of Sabaragamuwa province Hon. Mohan Saliya Ellawela. Further in this period of time band instruments were received under D.S.D program by the then minister of tertiary education Hon.Kabeer Hasheem. In addition to that IT room building work was started and English medium classes from grade six were also commenced under his administration. Kg/Mw/Al Azhar Maha Vidayala was upgraded as a Navodya school since this school was accepted as a D.S.D school due to educational reform of her Excellency the president.
Al-Haj M.I.M.Junaid principal assumed duties in late 2004. Water supply system with a stock tank was established during his tenure of office in accordance with the request of Sri Lanka Freedom Party organizer and the member of Sabaragamuwa provincial council Hon.Ananda Millangoda and with the patronage of the member of Sabaragamuwa provincial council Hon.I.B.M.Thahir science graduate shortage also solved due to the request of the Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Hon.Mahipala Herath.
It is noteworthy that our school which has more than ninety years of history develops step by step in education field. In resent years the school has produced grade five scholarship 25% , GCE O/L 75% and GCE A/L 68% of results. Last year 67% of the students have passed in mathematics and 68% have passed in English. The main reasons for this situation is that the importance given to English language at school and among the people in the area. Further, insituational work of imparting the knowledge of English language has also been another factor.More over English medium classes are conducted from grade 6 – 11 classes in the school.
However our school has produced many graduates in the fields of Arts, Commerce and Science has also been produced the scholars who won presidential and many other awards. In addition the school has produced lecturers, professors, politicians who have completed their master degrees in many countries.
Mr.M.A.M Nisthar has been appointed as the principal of this school with effect from 2nd June 2006. He has also been working as the deputy principal of the school for a long time. His appointment should be considered as the golden age of the decade.
The school has won many awards and developed in many fields being in forefront after his appointment as the principal. Students have been growing their talents in any fields in provincial and national levels.
Many records have been created in grade five scholarships examination, GCE O/L and in GCE A/L where the history of the school is concerned. 13 students have got through in grade five scholarship examination last year. This is a history record of the school. 10A passés in GCE O/L 2006 and the university entrance opportunity to 6 students including one for the faculty of medicine is a significant event which should be praised.
Educational and physical recourse development have been undertaken followed by the principal Mr.M.A.M.Nisthar, staff teachers, school development society, Old Boys Association, union of Hemmathagama region Jummah mosque trustee boards, Hemmathagama regional education development society and the scholars forum and they work hard for the betterment of the school.
As a result of this an auditorium and an advance science laboratory for the school have been received by the untiring effort taken by the member of the Sri Lanka freedom party of Mawanella Pradeshiya Saba Mr.M.R.M Liyauideen. Further he works hard in all matters including getting necessary teachers to the school. In this aspect the services rendered by the chief minister of the province Hon. Mahipal Herath, organizer of Sri Lanka Freedom Party for Mawanella Hon.Ananda Millangoda, member of the provincial council Hon.I.B.M.Thahir Hajiyyar, retired deputy director of education (Mawanella) Tamil division Al- Haj. M.A.Abdul Gayyom are noteworthy.
Further, the retired teacher and secretary of the School Development Society Mr. M.H.M Ruwaisdeen, and the secretary of Old Boys Association and the deputy principal of the school Mr.M.C.A Munaf have also been working hard continuously for the development of the school.
It is a great expectation of the people of Hemmathagama area that the young Mr.M.A.M Nisthar who works hard with long and short term development plans for the development of the school will bring about an upliftment in education in Hemmathagama area.
AL-Azhar Navodya School