Allandale Primary says farewell to its longest-serving principal

2016-01-28 10:48
Allandale Primary School principal Vasie Rajah commemorated his retirement by walking with retired principals, teachers and former pupils from the first school he taught at, Baijoo and Maharaj School, to Allandale Primary.

Allandale Primary School principal Vasie Rajah commemorated his retirement by walking with retired principals, teachers and former pupils from the first school he taught at, Baijoo and Maharaj School, to Allandale Primary. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - One of the longest-serving principals in the northern suburbs and well-known city sportsman Vasie Rajah bid a bittersweet farewell to his school and teaching career on Wednesday.

Rajah commemorated his retirement by walking with retired principals, teachers and former pupils from the spot the Baijoo and Maharaj School was situated to the school he is retiring from, Allandale Primary.

He said the Baijoo and Maharaj School held significance for him as the first school he taught at in 1978.

Rajah is the longest-serving principal at Allandale Primary, having spent 13 years of his 38 years of teaching there.

“Teaching is the most satisfying and fulfilling profession. Being in the classroom is the best feeling and nothing has ever made me happier,” said Rajah.

Rajah said he initially registered to study mechanical engineering but changed his mind and signed up for teaching.

Rajah said he remembers the names and surnames of all 36 pupils he taught in his first class at the Baijoo and Maharaj School.

“In fact, a few weeks ago I started looking through all the class registers to see how many current pupils’ parents I have taught. I counted about 120 pupils,” he laughed.

Rajah said retiring at the age of 60 after 38 years of teaching, he finally feels like he has completed his duty to the children.

“Teaching is not a job, it is a vocation. I hope I was able to fulfil my obligation to the pupils and parents,” said Rajah.

He said even serious illness had not driven him from the teaching profession. Despite his lung collapsing more than 10 years ago and now being diagnosed with lung cancer, “medical boarding was never an option”.

“There were days when I could not get out of bed but thinking of the children I knew I had to be at school. I persevered for them,” he said.

Rajah, who specialised in physical education, said sport and sport development in youngsters has always been one of his many passions.

He served on the Pietermaritzburg Schools Sports Association, Primary Schools Sports Association, Maritzburg Volleyball Association and the United Sports Social Club.

“Teaching and coaching took me around South Africa and watching my pupils excel was the best achievement,” he said.

Rajah said he is dedicating his retired years to his family who have always supported him and allowed him the freedom to do what he needed to do for his schools and pupils.

“I would never have survived all that I did without my wife Shamla and my family. If there is anyone with more strength than me, it is my wife,” he laughed, saying that he usually would not say that out loud.

Rajah plans on visiting Cuba after his retirement, saying that Che Guevara always inspired him and it has been a dream to visit the island.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  school

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