A spiritual foundation of an educational institute often promotes strong moral and ethical values. These values can guide the behavior of students, teachers, and staff, fostering a sense of honesty, integrity, compassion, and respect within the educational community. This, in turn, contributes to the development of responsible and empathetic individuals.
The resounding success attained by the Trinidad Muslim League (TML) Primary School San Fernando is largely due to its strong spiritual foundation and the culture of cohesive collaboration and shared responsibility, which exists among its stakeholders: MOE – Victoria Education District Supervision, Trinidad Muslim League Inc, parents, and teachers.
TML San Fernando has continued to excel, topping the country’s Secondary Entrance Assessment Examinations six times between 1973 and 2020, 11 times in the top 3 places, consistently placing in the Top National Placement List with the highest number of students nationally.
More importantly, TML San Fernando continues to be a safe haven for its students and staff at a time when Trinidad and Tobago experiences turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a reflection of a wider society, TML San Fernando is not exempt from the challenges which arise from this socio-economic instability, similar to what exists in many other schools. However, it has managed to overcome challenges because of the cohesive school structure it has built.
Voyage to a Prime Educational Institute
On January 19th, 1953, the Trinidad Muslim League opened its doors to accommodate 37 students and four teachers at the Masjid Hall at Prince Albert Street. Mr. Roy Joseph, the late President Dr. Noor Hassanali, and the then-school manager Mr. Mohammed Yakoob Khan formally opened the school.
The first principal, Mr. Murtaza Baksh, set the pace for success, and the school population grew. In 1984, the then Prime Minister, Mr. George Chambers, became aware of the cramped conditions at the school, and so it was Mr. Sheraze Muradali, the longest-serving school manager (1976 to 2021) found a new site between Roodal and Farah Street to build the school.
On 6th November 1991, the school moved to its current location under the then principal, Mr. Harry Narine. By then, the school population was over 500 pupils. Today, 32 years later, it has a proud legacy of success. With a student population of 447 and 19 teachers, it has continued to excel, even in the face of the Covid pandemic.
Seven Decades as a Frontrunner
Over the past 70 years, TML San Fernando has topped the country’s Secondary Entrance Assessment Examinations six times between 1973 to 2020, 11 times in the top 3 places, consistently placing in the Top National Placement List with the highest number of students nationally and the Highest National Averages in the subject areas.
It has also attained first place in the National Chess championships; National Sanfest Winners/Best Primary School 2022; Largest Cub Pack Nationally; President’s Awards; Largest Arabic Class Nationally, Readers of Al Quran; National Swimming Champion; National Spelling, OWTU, Red Cross, Diabetes; Religious Knowledge and Essay Writing Competitions.
In a bid to provide holistic development for its students, TML San Fernando School offers a host of co-curricular activities, which include cricket and football sports teams, the TML Chess Stars, the First San Fernando TML Cub Pack, and the Arabic class. A group and the committee head supervise each activity and are responsible for charting progress. These include:
- Red Cross (Ms. Ameena Ali, Ms. Naila Shah & Ms. Rehana Ali-Nagee)
- Environmental/Club (Hameed Shah)
- Religious Group (Sakeena Ali-Mohammed)
- After school sports Nawaz Gaffar/Salma Elahie -Ali & Ms. Salima Khan-Sirjue
- ICT (Imtiaz Hoseln & Safiyya Ali
- Finance – Farissa Ali – Bajnath (Treasurer/ Internal auditor)
- Numeracy Lead (Mr. Imshaz Hosein)
- Literacy Lead (Rabia Mohammed)
Fostering an Innovative Environment
Currently, the Arabic class has a student population of over 100 students and is recognized as the largest class nationally. Students are taught in the area of Arabic Reading, Fiqh, and Adaab. Its Chess Stars under Mr. Shawn Amirali and the Cub Pack Executive have continued to shine, winning the 2022 National Chess Championships. TML San Fernando also participation in the Scout Movement.
These co-curricular activities at TML San Fernando are in sync with the goals of the Ministry of Education to encourage healthy lifestyles; build self-awareness; encourage national pride and a sense of belonging; develop communication and self-expression; promote literacy, numeracy, and technological literacy; inculcate a love for learning as well as develop in children an intrinsic sense of right from wrong.
Its children have flourished in an environment where it stimulates creative thought and hone social skills, which were impeded during the pandemic. From an early age, it encourages students to explore hobbies. They are encouraged to explore art and craft, short story writing, poetry, drama, singing, musical instruments, and other talents. Once promising students are identified, it exposes them to opportunities that could assist in building their talents. Currently, TML San Fernando is in the process of setting up an area where students can set up easels and paint during their leisure time. This exposure to extra-curricular activities has allowed it to cop several awards nationally in recent times.
Emblem of Superiority
TML San Fernando has received numerous awards for its impeccable display over the years. Some of the recent awards include:
- NGC Children Bocas Lit Fest 2020 ‘Dragonzilla’s Short Story Writing Challenge’ ‘My COVID’
- ‘Experience in T&T’ placed in the top 10 nationally
- International Virtual Gallery ‘We Love Reading’ presentation on ‘The Stars Do Shine’ 1st place Nationally
- Oratory Foundation (World Leaders Module) Poem ‘Queen Elizabeth’ placed 2nd in the Poetry and 1st place for the Best Costume
- CARICOM Energy Video Competition by Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries ‘A RE-silent’
- ‘Community: Energy at the Centre’ – 1st place nationally
- Art by Design selected your artists in the T&T to feature in the Virtual EVOLVE Student Art Exhibition 2020 (one student was selected)
Ensuring Smooth Execution
The resounding success TML San Fernando has enjoyed over the past 70 years is largely due to the school’s management structure which allows smooth execution of Academics, Leadership and Management, Spirituality, and Maintenance of School Assets and Infrastructure. These include the following:
- Tracking students’ records (sea, termly tests)
- Tracking teachers’ records (performance)
- SSSD referrals and concessions
- Guidance Officer (in-house)
- Special Education Officer (in-house)
- Student aide/teacher’s aide
- Students’ attendance (tracking late, absent, early departure)
- Teachers’ attendance (tracking late, absent, time off)
- Parents meeting (conference/pocket meeting/PTA)
- Technology (multi-media projector/computer lab) shared
- Mentoring teachers
- Individual class libraries
- Class projects (in-class displays and presentations) in keeping with the integrated curriculum.
TML San Fernando leadership and management structure includes:
- Shared leadership, instructional leader
- Lateral leadership
- Committees (SBT, literacy, numeracy, discipline, maintenance, social events)
- Professional learning communities
- Clinical supervision/class checks
- Competition (zonal/regional/international)
- Ethos/culture of the school
- Mentoring teachers
- Financial Team (committee/ proper records/ treasurer/auditor…proper sign-off with proper records)
Three aspects of TML San Fernando Management structure – Digitization, School-based Management Team, and Clinical Supervision/Peer Reviews will be outlined in greater detail to show how they contribute to its overall success.
Utilizing Technological Advancement
The digitization of every aspect of TML San Fernando’s operations is largely responsible for its success. Data tracking helps the school to effectively analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Its data systems are updated weekly and are accessible by all committee heads. This fosters team collaboration and removes TML San Fernando from the laborious chores of physical filling and archiving. TML San Fernando’s digital support systems, controlled by Mrs Saffiya and Sir Imtiaz, track student absenteeism, early departures, and the learning challenges of every student. Each child had a data chart that allowed them to monitor development utilizing attendance sheets, exam report cards, and academic transcripts.
But digitized data system goes beyond student services and management. It also includes a digitized system for academic rollout, inclusive of the class syllabus, guidelines for the School-Based Management Team (SBT), digitized stock listing for physical infrastructure, and supervisory support systems for staff. The data systems are centered on triangular success, development of knowledge, skills, and attitude. TML San Fernando has also utilized its digital systems to facilitate the professional development of teachers.