The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

A regional pillar of all-round education


In 2004, Zahira College, Hambantota suffered a massive loss of life during the catastrophic tsunami that struck the region. It took several years, but today it has emerged from the darkness of this tragedy and stands as one of the most magnificent schools in the island.

After the disastrous tsunami, all hopes of prosperity for Zahira seemed eternally lost given the complete destruction of the primary section. International aid was a rarity in the town of Hambantota, yet the timely assistance readily rendered by UNICEF, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education, offered renewed hope.

The Present Principal Mr. A.K.T.Adhahan

Zahira College, located in the heart of Hambantota town, was founded in 1911 by the late Mr. Leonard Woolf, who was an Assistant Government Agent cum Magistrate in Hambantota. Had Mr. Leonard not had the magnanimity to put up a school for the Tamil-speaking people in the area, several bright minds would never have had the opportunity of studying at Zahira.

The first principal was Mr. V. Rathnasabapathy and there were only 50 students and one teacher. In 1914 the school was taken over by the Ministry of Education and upgraded. 1956 was the most striking year for the school. Considering the high percentage of Muslim students enrolled at the school, the authorities decided to name this multiethnic school a Muslim school. As a result, in 1969 the school was named Darmahabir Muslim Maha Vidyalaya. Later on, in 1984, it was renamed Zahira College and afterwards, in 1994, it earned National School Status.

Zahira College was selected as a Secondary School under the 1000 schools project. The primary section of the school has been separated into the Iqra Primary School as the first step of the project and Zahira College is functioning as a grade 6 to 13 school from June 2012 onwards.

The present principal of the college is Mr. A. K. T. Adhahan and they have only 25 teachers which is a huge drawback for a secondary school.
Ever since its establishment, Zahira has grown from strength to strength and produced thousands of valuable citizens. This school has produced eminent lawyers, engineers, teachers, surveyors, administrators, sportsman and technicians who are all doing well in their chosen spheres.

At Zahira, education is the ultimate intention of the administration. The grade five scholarship examination results always bring honour to the school, with the highest number of passes among the Educational Zone. F.N.M. Nusran brought credit to Zahira by scoring 172 which is the highest score by a Zahirian and he is also the first child to be admitted to Royal College, Colombo. Since 2001, the G.C.E. (O/L) section has been an asset to the school, constantly producing extraordinary achievements.

Additionally, Zahira College also produces excellent results at the G.C.E. A/L exam with the help of capable graduate tutors. In 2008, two students, Zihama Zakeem and M.N.F. Nadeera obtained 3 As for the first time in the college’s history. Since then they have enjoyed many achievements every year producing quite a few university entrants.

However, the Zahira administrators give prominence not merely to curricular activities but also to extracurricular activities. Fathima Nasrin, an old girl of Zahira, established an all-time record by winning first place in the World’s Best Entrepreneur Final Contest under the Youth Business International Project of His Royal Highness Prince Charles of the United Kingdom. She was fielded by the Hambantota Youth Business Trust of the Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce.

Through this achievement, Nasrin brought credit to her country and school. Another student who has made her school proud is M.N.F. Jesmin, who was placed third at the CIMA Spell Master competition in 2008.

Sport is another area where Zahirians shine. M.S.M. Shiyam established a national record by obtaining a match bag of 16 wickets against Ambalangoda Devananda Madya Maha Vidyalaya in 1994. S. M. Risham established a national and international record by scoring three consecutive centuries in thre consecutive Big Matches against Deberawewa National School in 1994, 1995 and 1996. M.M.M. Rishad established a national record by obtaining 9 wickets against S. Thomas College, Matara in 1995. L.S.M. Ihlan of Zahira captained the under 15 Hambantota District Cricket Team and represented the Provincial Team, too. M.R.M. Safwan entered the record books of Zahira by taking part in the national High Jump and Triple Jump contests and being placed seventh.

With a vision to “produce healthy citizens with a balanced personality, equipped with sufficient intellectual and moral wherewithal and armed with rich competencies to face any challenge in the modern world efficiently,” Zahira College, Hambantota is moving towards glory.

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