Ilma International Girls’ School

history-01Ilma International Girls’ School is the leading private Muslim girls’ school in the country. Situated along Thalakotuwa Gardens in Colombo 05, it boasts of a massive infrastructure consisting of a Primary, Middle and Senior School along with a Montessori School. The school possesses all the facilities capable of providing a substantial holistic education to Muslim girls in Sri Lanka whilst preserving the values and virtues of Islam.

Ilma was founded by Madam Rasheedha Mohideen, a leading lady in the sphere of education who was the Chief Education Officer of the Sri Lankan Education Service and also the Chief Educationist in one of the leading Islamic schools in Abu Dhabi (UAE). Ilma was her mission. Her vision depicted Muslim girls educated just like every other girl in this nation and taking the world by storm. Her aim was “To provide an effective and meaningful education for girls for higher intellectual attainments conforming strictly to the tenets of Islam.”

In order to make her dreams come alive, in the year 1987, Mrs. Mohideen spearheaded this tedious task of going with her ideas. Finally on the 18th of January 1988, the foundation of her legacy was laid down on the soil of Wijerama Mawatha in Colombo 07.

The motto of Ilma International Girls’ School was established: “Qul, Rabbi ZidniIlma” – “Say! O My Lord, Advance me in knowledge” (Surah 20: Verse 114). The words of this Quranic aayah, with unbelievable depth, resonate within the walls of Ilma and will continue to do so, for as long as the school endures to stand, Insha Allah.

Initially the Board of Management of Ilma consisted of three efficient individuals who helped raise the institution to what it is today. They were:

  •  Chairman – (late) A.H.L.A. Saleem
  •  Working Director – (late) Mr. Mohideen
  •  Working Director and Principal – Madam RasheedhaMohideen

In January 1989 The Ilma Educational Trust was created with, these three eminent persons as Trustees, having as one of its objects “to take over the ownership with the assets and liabilities and manage and control the ILMA INTERNATIONAL GIRLS’ SCHOOL ..” which was then situated at No. 33, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7. In May of that year this charitable trust was incorporated as Ilma Educational Foundation (IEF), a Company limited by guarantee, under the Companies Act No.17 of 1982, with 9 members. The 9 founder members of IEF were (late) Mr. A. H. L. A. Saleem, (late) Mr. M. S. Alif, (late) Justice A. M. M. Jameel, (late) Mr. M. A. S. M. Mohideen, (late) Mr. M. S. Moujood, (late) Dr. M. M. Uwise, Dr. M. A. M. Shukri, and Mr. Osman Kassim.

In just 2 years, Ilma grew in leaps and bounds. In the year 1990, the land that the school is currently standing on, was purchased. By the following year the the 130 perches of land  held a 3-storey infrastructure (approximately 2600 square meters of built space) that then stood as the new and improved Ilma International Girls’ School, Colombo 05. 1991 was also the year that Ilma unveiled its first batch of Ordinary Level students. There were 7 students in all, under the Edexcel Board of Examinations.


Although advancement was taking place at full speed, Ilma was still a sapling. The year 1992 consisted of hard work and dedication put in by our founder, to properly establish her institution and another plot of land, nearly 12 perches in extent, adjoining the School was purchased. This was the year of Ilma’s first prize giving. An inaugural year to remember indeed!

Word of Ilma spread through the Muslim community of Sri Lanka like wildfire. Help came in all forms thanks to the grace of the Almighty. The year 1993 saw a new wing for the school being constructed and opened for the Primary School (Grade Two). This new wing was opened by Madam Azwer, wife of the then Minister of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs. The following year, 1994, revealed Ilma’s First Advanced Level batch, Alhamdulillah. Ilma had achieved maturity.

Weathering many a storm, Ilma reached its 10th birthday in the year 1998. What was a mere 140 students was now a booming 1500. What was 16 teachers with 11 classrooms was now 112 and 63 respectively! This was also the year that the students of Ilma decided to give back; the Ilma International Old Girls’ Association (IIOGA) was formed. Further advancements led to the publishing of the inaugural school magazine of ’97/98.

The dawn of the new millennium brought in the first batch of students to have completed their entire education at Ilma International Girls’ School. Brave and courageous would not do justice in describing these students, who took their chances to seek their academic guidance at a place as new as what Ilma was in Wijerama Mawatha. Those who joined at Pre Grade Level sat for their Advanced Level examinations in this year.

2001, a year later, saw the introduction of the new air conditioned main hall, curtsey of the IIOGA, which was soon certified as a London Examinations Centre. This was also the time when Ilma first introduced Local A/L’s. Students could now choose their own paths. The provision of options and choices within the school coloured its poster of popularity among the public.

The growth spurt continued. It was time that the Primary School was separated from the Senior School. And so 2002 called for a fourth block, which initiated this separation.

The main hall certified for London Examinations was integral for the school. But yet, that wasn’t entirely enough. London Examinations (the science stream) required laboratories in order to conduct practical examinations. Basically, without the labs, the school was incomplete. Realizing this, Ilma opened up 3 laboratories: a Biology lab, a Physics lab and a Chemistry lab. In the year 2003, the London Advanced Level examination practicals were held in June and were conducted in the new Physics and Chemistry labs.

This was also the year Ilma had arrived at a point where one Awards Day clearly wasn’t enough to award its students within the time limits of 1 day. Talents of students could not be ignored and Ilma seemed to be brimming with just that. Therefore, 2003 inaugurated the hosting of 2 Awards Days: 1 for the Primary School and 1 for the Senior School.

Demand for attention in the literary department grew. A part of the school that wasn’t really heeded to thus far, but yet was a vital unit for the academic growth, was now given attention. In 2006 the senior library of Ilma International Girls’ School now expanded to 3 huge rooms filled with books, from books of fiction to books of reference. Magazines, newspapers, books of Islamic guidance and everything within the wants of a reader’s mind was available in the Senior library of Ilma.


The year of 2010 called for a big change. The students of Ilma who had been sitting for public examinations under the Examining Board of Edexcel from the very inception of the School changed to a new examination body; the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). 2010 saw the first batch of Ordinary Level students sitting for their examinations under CIE.

This transition called for the renewal of the instruments and apparatus in the Physics, Chemistry and Biology labs. Unlike Edexcel, which required students of only Physics and Chemistry to face practical examination, CIE required students of Biology as well to face practical examinations for the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) level. . Therefore, for the first time in Ilma, microscopes were introduced into the Biology lab equipping it to perfection for the conducting of the first Biology practical examination. This was held in June 2011. In June 2012, the following year, CIE conducted its first Advanced Levels Examinations within the halls of Ilma International Girls’ School.


Adding to obtaining a holistic education, the students of Ilma decided to show case their talents on the netball court. Beginning officially in the year 2009, Ilma decided to go ‘Inter-School’ at a Netball tournament organized by Hejaaz International School. Stealing the title “CHAMPIONS OF THE TOURNAMENT,” Ilma’s very own, Shamra Murshid, brought home the title “NETBALL QUEEN,” gracefully bringing utmost pride to Ilma. Alhamdulillah!

Dwelling on the matter of the court, in 2011 Ilma International Girls’ School now decided to host a netball tournament of their own. Up against some of the very prestigious schools of Colombo, held at the Sugathadasa Stadium, Ilma girls once again rose as the “CHAMPIONS” of the day!

The following year 2012, the annual Netball tournament was hosted yet again. This time it was held at St. Josephs’ College, Colombo 10. A display of extreme talent in this game brought Ilma to the Finals, where they unfortunately lost to Gateway College, Colombo and ended up first runners up instead.

In 2013 the venue of the annual Inter-International Schools Netball Tournament was moved back to Sugathadasa National Sports Complex (Indoor Stadium). At this, the third edition of this tournament Ilma once again emerged runners-up losing Gateway College, Colombo in a closely contested final.

This tournament, which has been successfully organised annually by the school since 2011, is now firmly established as the main Netball Tournament for international schools having been placed on the sports calendar of The International Schools of Sri Lanka (TISSL).In January 2013, Ilma celebrated its Silver Jubilee with a grand event at the BMICH Canopy Hall, hosted jointly by the School and the Old Girls’ Association, showcasing Ilma’s achievements of over the past twenty five years. Students past and present, parents, teachers, as well as special invitees attended this momentous occasion, which was graced by the founder Madam Rasheedha Mohideen. The 25th Anniversary Magazine was released and the new website of the School was launched at this event.

This event was proceeded by a series of concerts by the students of the Primary (Splash of Lights) and the Post Primary (Spectrum) which were held at the Bishop’s College Auditorium over a period of three days. The celebrations culminated with a Fun Fiesta, organised by the Ilma International Old Girls’ Association (IIOGA) at the Mahamatya Vidyalaya Grounds, Colombo 5.

More than two-and-a-half decades of academic success and growth! Since its inception, it is evident that Ilma has been favoured with nothing but success throughout its years. It has watered many minds with wisdom and knowledge, and will continue to do so for as long as the Almighty wills.

Alhamdulillah Ilma was born!