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About Sharjah: The school of memories

Lily B. Libo-on
Filed on April 7, 2012
About Sharjah: The school of memories

SHARJAH - Just a stone’s throw away from Sharjah’s old popular Souk Al Arsah, a two-storeyed coral blocks and sea- stones’ structure stands, reminding the visitors of the long distance the education in the UAE travelled in more than 75 years.

Just a stone’s throw away from Sharjah’s old popular Souk Al Arsah, a two-storeyed coral blocks and sea- stones’ structure stands, reminding the visitors of the long distance the education in the UAE travelled in more than 75 years.

Al Eslah School Museum, started in the first half of 20th century as Al Taimiyyah Al Mahmoudia has the honour of the first formal educational institute in the emirate.

From years without any formal schools in the region, Al Taimiyyah Al Mahmoudia was started as an informal school. This school replaced the common sight of small groups of children meeting in the home of a ‘Motawa’ or ‘Ulama’, a religious scholar, who used to give them informal lessons based on traditional Islamic teaching.

Established by Shaikh Ali Al Mahmood, the school had offered the prototype of a classroom from where instructions were given on the Holy Quran. Later, it blossomed into the first formal educational institute in Sharjah in 1953, offering a broader curriculum to the boys and girls, which included various science subjects, Arabic calligraphy, mathematics, grammar, history, literature and astronomy.

Known later as “Al Eslah School”, meaning a school of reformation, it was initially set up in a small village overlooking the sea in Al Heera district in 1935 until it was transferred to its current site in the Heritage Area.

Al Eslah School, which is now converted into a museum, still shows the semblance of that old Al Taimiyyah Al Mahmoudia with two separate classrooms for boys and girls, library, literature room, office, store, well, kitchen, toilet and a courtyard on the ground floor. On the second floor are the living quarters of the school’s overseas teachers, who lived on site during their terms, a long stretch of balcony and a living room.

Reminiscence of those good old days, the antique decors, the chests and other belongings used by the then ‘Ulamas’, the wooden desks used by the students, photos of the religious teachers on the wall, the small library, the room in the layout of an early Qur’an School etc are still there. The school was renamed in the 1940s to Al Eslah Al Qasimia, in recognition of Shaikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi, who funded the institute entirely.

Many of Sharjah’s great men and women are part of Al Eslah’s history and success as the first formal educational institute. The most prominent among Al Eslah’s students is His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. Images of the Ruler as a young student with his classmates are on Room 9 of the museum. From the outside, it just appears to be an ordinary structure of coral blocks and sea stones. Yet, inside is full of memories and treasures of that first formal school of the Emirati students, who created history by joining the group of the learned and professionals of the world.

· lily@khaleejtimes.com





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