Murtuza Baksh - First Principal (1953-1957)*
Murtuza Baksh had much to be proud of! The first Principal of the San Fernando T.M.L. Primary School, Murtuza Baksh began his education at the Preysal Canadian Mission School which later became the Preysal Government School. He then became a Pupil Teacher in 1941 at his alma mater.
His career in the field of education spanned close to 70 years during which time he excelled in every exam and venture that he undertook. He placed first in the Teachers' Certificate Examination in 1947 with distinctions in Arithmetic, Health Science, General Science, Geography and History. He proceeded to Government Training College for a one-year course in 1948 and obtainedACP-LCP Diplomas in 1954.
In the school's 45th Anniversary booklet, this is how Mr. Baksh recalls the events of January 1953: "Senior officials of the then Department of Education coerced me not to leave the Government School where I was employed. They felt it would be an extremely difficult task for me as I would be faced with much opposition...Despite the persuasion not to leave, I took up the challenge as the appointed principal by the Trinidad Muslim League Board of Education."
Mr. Baksh was given a staff of four teachers who never taught in a primary school. They were Mr. Afzal Hydal, Mr. Hamra-ul-Asad Muradali (who returned as Principal in 1975), Ms. Rita Magalhaes and Ms. Pearl Khan. He had the Herculean task of ensuring his staff was trained and fully equipped. This is a trait his daughter, Mrs. Camille Hosein, the current Principal, shares. Her staff is regularly exposed to Professional Development Seminars every term.
Mr. Baksh registered 37 pupils on the first day. Within its first two years, San Fernando T.M.L. Primary School won three scholarships and placed 27th islandwide in the College Exhibition Examination. By 1956, the school's enrollment jumped to more than 200 as it continued to excel in both academics and extra-curricular.
After laying the foundation at San Fernando T.M.L., Mr. Baksh was appointed the first Principal at the St. Joseph T.M.L. in 1957. There he won the Agricultural Garden Shield for many years. Many skits, concertns and plays he organised. Over the years, Mr. Baksh had many honours bestowed on him. He obtained a scholarship to England at the University of Exeter 1964/65 where he received a Diploma of Education. A scholarship to the University of Queensland, Australia, in 1971 earned him a Certificate of Education. At both universities, he was the chosen valedictorian.
He was the Principal of the Year in 1968 chosen by the Trinidad and Tobago Teachers' Union. In 1974, he became a School Supervisor I and later on a School Supervisor II serving in almost every educational district. He hold the honour of being the longest serving Teaching Service Commissioner, having held the position for some 20 years. In 2007, he received a National Award, the Public Medal of Merit (Silver) for meritorious and outstanding service to Trinidad and Tobago.
In sports, Mr. Baksh played a vital role as the first captain of the Preysal Cricket Team and was one of the founding members of the Preysal Sports Club.
Of his six children, five attended St. Joseph T.M.L. Primary School. His legacy of striving for excellence lives on his children. Special mention must be made of three of his daughters who followed his footsteps and became noteworthy Principals. They are Yasmin Baksh (retired Principal), Shereen Baksh (retired Principal) and Mrs. Camille Hosein nee Baksh. His daughters Laila Kayum, once taught at St. Joseph T.M.L., Vanissa Baksh taught at two private institutions and his son Aga is a teacher at the Orange Valley Government Primary School.
He was instrumental in education his brothers, sisers, nieces and nephews; most of whom became teachers or principals. He selflessly gave back to the community where he tutored hundreds of villagers during their formative years. Credit is due to his wife Feroza who was his constant source of strength and support.
Mr. Murtuza Baksh was born on 20th August, 1923. He died on 24th March, 2008.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un
"Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return."
*Excerpt taken from the San Fernando T.M.L. Primary School's Diamond Jubilee magazine.