Go Well Sir!

2014-12-20 04:55

(Omar Cassim Mohideen)

After a 44-year career in education, the Principal of Nizamia Islamic School, Omar Cassim Mohideen, will be retiring at the end of the year, 2014. His legacy will continue to be remembered by the staff, the students and the parent community of the School.

Whether it is an educator, parent, student or the cleaning staff, most, in fact all, are unanimous in their praise of one who served the school for 19 years. If ever there was a person, let alone a teacher, who took his career seriously as an educationist, Mr Mohideen meets the criteria.

It will be very challenging next year for the entire school community, knowing that a man who sacrificed his life, time, health and family and made an enormous contribution to the life of the students and school will not be there. However, the School is relieved to hear that the Board of Governors will continue to use his services on a consultative basis.

Mr Mohideen was born in Wasbank (Northern Natal) where he obtained his Primary School Education (PSC). He proceeded to Durban with his parents and attended Lorum High School (Somseu Road) where the well-known Dr AD Lazarus was Principal.

After graduating as a teacher at the Transvaal College of Education (Fordsburg) in December 1970 specialising in the teaching of English and Mathematics, Mr Mohideen started teaching at the Roodeport Secondary School. He was fortunate to be appointed at a school which he regularly attended during practice teaching sessions. He spent three years at the school teaching English in the Secondary School.

It was interesting to learn from Mr Mohideen about his association with Mr Ahmed Timol (anti-apartheid activist and political leader) who died in detention in October 1971. The two gentlemen taught English at the same school (Roodepoort Secondary) in parallel classes, visited each other regularly, studied through UNISA and often walked to the local Mosque for their regular prayers. Mr Mohideen was a member of and served the Roodeport community from 1968 to 1973.

From 1974 to 1983 Mr Mohideen taught at the following schools:

Westcliff Secondary in Chatsworth, Durban Girls’ High, Dannhauser Primary, St Oswalds Secondary (Newcastle), Glencoe Secondary and Dundee Secondary. In 1984 he was appointed HOD (English) at the Greytown Secondary where he served 2 years. In 1986 Mr Mohideen took up appointment at The Esther Payne Smith (EPS) Secondary School in Northdale, Pietermaritzburg, where he spent 10 memorable years. He resigned from EPS in December 1995 to take up an appointment in January 1996 as Principal of Nizamia Islamic School which was in its third year as in independent school.

Having completed the BA Degree with majors in English and History through UNISA, the desire to venture into post-graduate studies materialised when Mr Mohideen enrolled at UKZN (Pietermaritzburg Campus) as a part-time student for the Bachelor of Educator Degree specialising in Teaching English to Second Language Learners and School Administration and Organisation. Through the Centre for Community Training and Development (UNISA) Mr Mohideen obtained a certificate in Parent Involvement (with distinction). With the Department of Education placing emphasis on Assessor Training for Educators Mr Mohideen completed the Assessor Course through Skills Dynamic Africa.

Mr Mohideen says that since the school is in good shape it’s time he hands the baton over to his successor. Yes, the school is ready for the final stage – on site evaluation for full accreditation by Umalusi on a date to be mutually confirmed in 2015.

Omar wrote in the Nizamia Chronicle (a quarterly school publication): “Time flies,” they say, “and I can bear testimony to this reality. The 19 years that I spent at Nizamia will be remembered with fondness. Yes, there were several challenges. These challenges were significant paces to direct and redirect our steps through the maze of life. The approach to resolve issues around the challenges, with the help and support of colleagues, added to the joys of the experience.”

Leading the acknowledgements at the awards function, Mr Mohideen’s successor, Sheikh Irshaadh Amod said: “His priority was always the students, and there are not many Principals around who are still able to teach and run a school. More remarkable is the handing over of the leadership. These days it’s very rare that voluntarily a principal will step aside”.

Former student Yusuf Peer wrote: I was fortunate to have had Mr Mohideen as my high school principal and English teacher, who ironically thought my mother English decades earlier in Gauteng. My real interaction with him was between 2006 and 2007 when I served as a member of the Learners’ Representative Council and then Deputy Head Boy of Nizamia. He was always ready to engage on student issues, to find solutions to our problems and to improve our experiences as students. He was also a fantastic English teacher and went out of his way to see us excel in our matric examinations. He will be remembered for playing a pivotal role in taking Nizamia from a primary school to a successful high school, producing many matriculants, some of whom were top achievers. While Mr Mohideen’s retirement comes on the verge of me completing my articles at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, and being admitted as an attorney, I can only look back and thank him for the life lessons and guidance he gave me, even after my time at Nizamia, which has allowed me to reach this stage. We wish him well in his retirement and thank his family for allowing him to dedicate so much of his life to Nizamia. While he had his flaws, as all of us do, He has done his part and his contribution and legacy will remain. Go well Sir!

Razia Peer, Yusuf’s mother and a local physiotherapist says “thank you Mr Mohideen for steering the staff to maintain stability and provide an environment that was not only conducive to academic learning but also provided the emotional support that is required by learners during their teenage years. My three sons derived maximum benefit from the staff of Nizamia under your superb leadership. Thank you also for your excellent teaching of English from which not only my sons, but I also benefitted as a learner in your class many years ago at Roodepoort Indian School. May Almighty Reward you and Grant you the Best of Both Worlds. Ameen.”

Mrs Fathima Karrim who has taught with him at Nizamia School for 19 years said: Mr Mohideen is a dedicated somebody who even when ill comes to school. He has been very compassionate towards his fellow staff members ….. a brother, friend and colleague.

Mr Mohideen is an executive member of the Association of Muslim Schools (AMS) which is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools of South Africa (NAISA).

He also serves on the committee of the local Raisethorpe Muslim Society.

Mr Mohidden is blessed with 5 daughters and 14 grandchildren. One of his daughters lives in Riyaadh (Saudi Arabia) and she has 4 children. He travels often to the Kingdom to visit his daughter and grandchildren.

Mr Mohideen’s retirement plan includes a pilgrimage to Makkah with his family.

*The author wishes to thank the parents, staff and students for their inputs during the preparation of this article.

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