The International Indian School in Dammam (IISD) might be listed as a Guinness World Record as the largest educational institution with 16,000 students, 800 teachers and 600 nonteaching staff.
As of yet, there is no official confirmation that the IISD is indeed the biggest school. Among the 13,500 schools affiliated with India’s Central Board of Secondary Education — both within the country and abroad — the IISD has the highest number of students.
“We are the biggest among all CBSE-affiliated schools, there is no doubt about that,” said Principal E.K. Mohammad Shaffe. “Besides India, CBSE schools are located in 21 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE.”
There are other schools in India that are bigger than the IISD but they are neither under one principal nor under one administration. For instance, City Montessori School in Lucknow, India, is said to have 33,000 students on its rolls. However, the school is divided into 20 different sections, each headed by an independent principal.
The IISD, founded in 1982 by members of the Indian community in Dammam, is located in two different buildings in the city’s Al-Raka district. One is for boys and another for girls. However, in Principal Shaffe, the school has only one head of institution.
Al-Jabreen Trading and Contracting Co. owns the two buildings and the school pays SR6.5 million each year in rent. The school collects around SR3 million a month in fees, which totals up to SR36 million every year. This should be a record in itself.
For Principal Shaffe, getting into the record book is secondary. “Of course it would come as a pleasant surprise, but that is not our primary concern,” he told Arab news. “First and foremost, our quest is to excel on the educational front, and that is exactly what we have been doing for the last 30 years of our existence.”
The school has continuously produced top-rankers, and many of its alumni have gone on to occupy top positions in multinational companies.
“We have always achieved 100 percent results and we are proud of our achievements,” said Shaffe. “The credit must go to our hard-working teachers, highly supportive parents, excellent students and our very understanding management committees.”
The Dammam school has become a role model for other schools in the Kingdom. “The Ministry of Education is always very appreciative of our efforts and results. The ministry officials pay regular visits to the school to study its various aspects and good administration,” said Shaffe.
The school has come a long way from its less than impressive beginnings in 1982. Then it had only 250 students and 15 teachers in a few portacabins. The Indian community fondly remembers the services of two of its founding members, Rasheed-uz-Zafar from Aligarh and M.K. Abdullappa from Kerala.
These two leading lights of the Indian community dedicated a major part of their lives to the development of the Dammam school in the 1980s. Both worked for the prestigious King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dammam.