Through the instrumentality of some prominent Muslims in the community, representation for a T.I.A. , School was made in 1955. The foundation stone was laid by the late Mohammed Abdul Ghany. The people in Lengna worked assiduously in the erection of the building. At the beginning of January in 1956 the Lengua Islamia School was opened.
A grand formal opening of the Lengua Islamia School was held later in the year. The Honourable Roy Joseph, then Minister of Education, formally opened the building.
The building has a floor space of three thousand and eighty square feet and provides accommodation for three hundred and eighty-five pupils. At present there are five hundred and ninety-two pupils.
Our staff comprises nineteen teachers (a principal, a vice-principal, seven teacher 1, nine A.T. 11 and a needle work teacher). The teachers provide an all-round education for the pupils. Our motto: “Love Conquers All”, is practised by all pupils.
Over the years, 2190 pupils have been admitted to this institution; 297 of them have gained free secondary places and 195 have received School Leaving Certificates with two of these children winning free places at Secondary schools.
In 1971, we received six out of nine trophies competed for among schools in the Lengua/Barrackpore area. The year 1973 seemed to climax our achievements. We achieved eighty percent passes overall with seventy-five Common Entrance places including four scholarship winners and twenty-five school leaving awards with one child gaining a free secondary school place.
A Mosque was erected in 1962 in the immediate vicinity to provide a place of worship for all Muslims in the community. For many years teachers have been delivering sermons on Fridays. However, we have now been blessed to have a capable and devout leader, Haji Sahadath Ali of Princess Town.
The achievements of this institution have been due to dedicated teachers, co-operative parents and industrious pupils. Special tribute should be paid to our local manager, Mr. Hakim Mohammed.
Extracted from Tackveeyatul Islamic Association of Trinidad and Tobago Inc – Silver Anniversary souvenir brochure, published in 1974
Built in a rural area in Cunjal, just East of Princes Town the Caledonia E.C. Primary School was the place for many of the children of the village to get their first taste of education. Nestled amongst the sugar cane fields it was the only school for miles around.
Children walked, most of them bare footed, through the tracks and dirt roads to get to school. Some of them with just a copy book rolled up and pushed into one pocket, and their lunch, also rolled up in brown paper and pushed into the other pocket.
Sadly, in 1951, a fire broke out in the school. After the smoke had subsided there was nothing left but cinders. This was a massive blow to the villagers as the notion of rebuilding was far fetched; for their resources and income were very limited. However, for the Muslim community of Realize and Mandingo Roads this was just the sort of opportunity they were waiting for.
It was to be a serious struggle, for at the same time Mr. Lal Mahabir and others were also advocating to have a government school built in the area.
The Muslim Association felt that a denominational school would be able to serve the predominantly Muslim community better. After a series of meetings under the leadership of Mr. Raphic Ali, the president and Mr. Gerald Mohammed, secretary of the Realize and Mandingo Roads Jamaat together with government officials and others involved in the propulsion of education, a mandate was secured by the Muslim community to proceed with plans to erect a school.
The Tackveeyatul Islamic Association (T.I.A.) was approached by the Jamaat to discuss the feasibility of being the denominational school board. Among members of the T.I.A. delegation were Mr. Nur Ghany, Mr. Hashim Mujaffar, Mr. Kamaluddin Mohammed and Mr. Siddique Mustapha. All parties unanimously agreed that the school should be built under the banner of the T.I.A. It would now be the arduous task of locating suitable land and negotiating with the relevant authorities.
A two acre parcel of land was eventually located at the corner of Realize and Mandingo Roads. The land, owned by the Los Larunjos Estate was donated to the T.I.A. Board after some skilful negotiation by Mrs. Andrea Ghany. Building plans were finalized subsequent to several meetings with the relevant government bodies.
A contractor was hired and Mr. Raphic Ali took the onus to oversee the construction. The actual building site was that of an old estate house and barracks. This meant that a considerable amount of old building material, mainly pieces of iron, had to be dug out of the ground. More than twenty of these pieces of iron were dug up, some from a depth of four feet. Those that could not be removed have remained to this day.
Much of the labour was supplied by the villagers both young and old. Those who were fortunate and had transport supplied their vehicles; a truck to supply the boulders, a bull cart to bring dirt to make a level floor as well as to take barrels of water to mix the concrete. Many others gave of their physical strength. There was no heavy machinery to level the ground or mix the concrete so it was all done by hand. They sometimes worked well into the late hours of the day, lighting up flambeaux to assist them at times. It was a labour of love that bore fruit.
Lengua Islamia T.I.A. opened its doors on January 16, 1956. The acting Principal at that time was Mr. Ramjohn Ali. Headmaster as he was called had a staff of five assistant teachers: four males, one female. At the start of classes 238 pupils were enrolled. Some of these first pupils went on to become teachers at the same school and today have retired from the service.
Lengua T.I.A. as it is now called has had a very colourful and rewarding history. Many who have passed through this institution have had fond memories from playing under the almond trees to breaking biche to go and hunt birds or catch fish in a nearby pond. The teachers also have their fair share of fond memories for it has always been a close knit community that extended into the school. To date, many of the teachers still come from the community, there are just a few who come from outside the community.
Academically, Lengua T.I.A. has achieved much, producing persons in all professions. Many competitions have been won, and cultural activities undertaken, the main purpose of erecting a denominational school has not faltered and the Muslim community has continued to grow. More than fifty years after the first building, a new one has been erected not too far from the first location. Many generations have been educated and many more will follow.
Very interested reading on the history of this school. I attended for a few years up until 1966.It seems to have grown a bit. I would love to visit on my next trip back!
My brothers attended the old Caledonia school..before it burned….I recall my mother saying the school had burned and I walked past the charred remains at about aged seven or eight on the way to the rice fields with my parents. The loss of one school sparked a rebirth for new learning and the recognition of Islamic studies as a future aspiration for all children especially those of the Islamic faith. It was timely and has proven by its history the worthiness of the efforts of those who served willingly for a noble cause. Some of my close family members and few other friends attended that school.