History & Background
It began, in 1958, at the humble home of its founder.
The early images of MWTI were that of a kampong house that bustles with life mostly in the night. Local children in throngs were seeking religious knowledge from Al-Marhum Ustaz Mohd Noor at his house, at Kampong Wak Tanjong in PayaLebar.
MWTI was then formerly known as Madrasah Ad-Diniyyah Al-Islamiah. Its students came from nearby areas, including Lorong Engku Aman, in Geylang Serai. When the school was in its early years, the enrollment was less than 100, and this group was taught by only four teachers.
As the original intention of the school was to equip children with basic Islamic knowledge (or fardhu ‘ain), only three subjects were offered: Religion, Arabic and Quran. Lessons were usually taught about two hours long and only began after Maghrib prayers.
As the school’s popularity grew, so did its number of students. Six months after the school was established, two new school sessions were added to meet the growing needs of the local residents for a more rigorous curriculum.
Plans to institutionalise Madrasah Ad-Dini¬yyah into a stand-alone school soon came up. Ustaz Mohd Noor then sought permission from his family to use a plot of land in the village that it owned for the possible extension of school premises.
To raise funds for a new building, the school collaborated with Allahyarham Kiyai Fathullah Harun, a well-known preacher of his time, by selling religious pamphlets edited by the Kiyai. Half of the sale proceeds went to the school fund that was even¬tually used for the construction of a new school.
The construction was completed at the end of 1959. Without much delay, classes began at the new location, which was at 589 Sims Avenue. The site which the “kampong school” (the nickname which it is known by today) sat on then, was on the grounds the present MWTI stood today.
The school building was essentially a big rectangular room measuring 60 feet by 25 feet, which was divided into five classrooms using wooden screens. The wooden screens were basic and they did not do much in ‘creating separate rooms’ con-ducive for learning. One could peek into the next classroom, and in fact one could hear everything coming from it. Confusion and interruptions frequently abounds. “The teachers could see each other while they were teaching,” commented former student and current Malay teacher, Cikgu Masnia Nassim.
There were further changes to the Ad-Dini¬yyah system. One of these included the introduction of academic subjects such as the English Language and Bahasa Melayu into the curriculum. The intake of new students was increased to about 200. Two extra school sessions (the morning and afternoon sessions) were being introduced to accommodate the students from government schools. Due to that, the students from the government schools would be able to conveniently attend religious class¬es outside the usual curriculum time for Ad-Diniyyah.
Madrasah Ad-Diniyyah, in the eyes of many, seemed to have institutionalised itself well, apart from just offering a complementary religious education for the local children. Even then, the school maintained its relaxed atmosphere, with the students less likely to be competitive and stressed over their exams.
With students tightly packed together with the teachers in the small space, it is no surprise that the bond between students and teachers, especially the principal (who was also a teaching staff) was very strong. This bond was transpired especially when a big event was organised, like the Maulidur Rasul celebration. The spirit of collective cooperation, or gotong-royong, would be evident. Students would spend a night or two preparing the school for the occasion. Students would conduct a thorough spring-cleaning for the building, and then they would all cook together.
In 1968, the name “Madrasah Ad-Diniyyah” was changed to “Madrasah Wak Tanjong”. The move was so, as to avoid confusion, as a few other madrasahs in Singapore were also named “Madrasah Ad-Diniyyah”. There were two factors that had influenced the choice of name. The obvious one was the location of the school. The other was the name of Ustaz Mohd Noor’s paternal great-grandfather.
Twelve years after MWTI was first established, the school sent its first batch of Secondary 4 graduates overseas to further their education. To begin, some went into institutions in Malaysia or Indonesia to obtain pre-university qualifications. From these institutions, many graduates furthered their studies either at the Al-Azhar University in Egypt, or in Saudi Arabia. Among those who were sent was Ustazah Orfiyah Jaafar, currently MWTI’s head of department for religious studies and Arabic language, who went to Kolej Nilampuri, in Kelantan.
Efforts to modernise and to streamline the Madrasah education started in 1975, when MWTI registered itself with the Ministry of Education. In 1981, the first batch of MWTI students sat for their GCE‘O’ Level examinations in Malay, English, Arabic, Islamic Religious Knowledge, History and Malay Literature.
With the Master Plan that guides the land authorities to urbanize Singa¬pore in the late 80s, the “kampong school” building was to be demol¬ished along with the villages in the area. Coincidentally, upon realising that the school could not maintain its operation in the small building with the ever increasing enrolment, plans were being made for the next step.
In 1993, MWTI faced a major stumbling block. The school’s building fund was depleting fast, and due to this, construction works had to be halted for several months. As the yet-completed building stood alone untouched at the work site, MWTI went on a fundraising frenzy, appealing again to the public for help. Further efforts to raise funds included selling Iranian dates and calendars. Most of these efforts were by the students’ own sweat. Appeals were also made to the public through advertising in newspapers. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. The principal even went into lengths to get students appealing with donations boxes at the various mosques in Singapore.
Alhamdullilah, with Allah’s grace, and the public’s magnanimity, all of these slogging paid off. With the resumption of the long dormant construction work, the vision of a new MWTI soon came back to life.
Former Principal of MWTI
Our first and former principal, Almarhum Ustaz Mohd. Noor Bin Taib with his beloved wife, Ustazah Hamiyah binte Husein.
Our current Principal, Ustaz Mohd. Abdul Halim Bin Mohd. Noor.
1950s-80s Kampong School
- 1958: Madrasah Wak Tanjong Al-Islamiah (MWTI) was established as Madrasah Ad-Diniyyah Al-Islamiah.
- 1959: Fundraising for the construction of a school building. School then moved to the completed new building. Academic subjects added to the syllabus.
- 1966: MWTI’s yearly tradition of MaulidurRasul (the Prophet’s Birthday) celebration was started.
- 1968: The name “Madrasah Ad-Diniyyah” was changed to the present “Madrasah Wak Tanjong”.
- 1970: The first batch of Secondary 4 graduates sent overseas to further their education.
- 1975: MWTI was included in the Ministry of Education’s Education Act.
- 1982: The first batch of Secondary 4 students sat for their GCE‘O’ Levels.
- 1987: Major fundraising efforts to purchase land for the new building Eventual purchase of plot of land for MWTI.
1989-1993 Broderick School
- 1989-93: MWTI moved temporarily to the old premises of Broadrick Secondary School for five years, as the new building was constructed.
- Jan 1994: Students returned to a redeveloped 589 Sims Avenue on the first day of school.
- Aug 1994: The new building was officially opened by Almarhum Syeikh Umar Abdullah Alkhatib.
- 1998: The Pre-University level was introduced in the MWTI System.
- 1999: The MWTI Pre-U Certificate are now recognised by several Middle Eastern universities.
- 2000: The first batch of Pre-U students sat for their GCE‘A’ Level examinations.
- 2001: An additional fifth storey was constructed.
- 2002: A classroom on the first floor was turned into an IT Lab.
- 2003: The Compulsory Education Act was implemented.
- 2005: Works to make the school more comfortable kicked in.
- 2008: 50th anniversary of the school.
The first batch of Primary 6 students would be sitting for the PSLE on a national level.