Durban - The legacy of one of the province’s biggest champions of education will live on for years to come.
This, said those who worked with him, was all that the KZN chairman of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, Reginald Chiliza, 68, would have wanted after his passing.
The education activist was killed in an accident on Saturday when he was travelling from Folweni to his home in uMlazi.
He had served in the role for almost 20 years.
Department of Education Head of Department, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, said tonMonday morning that he had known Chiliza since 1985, when Sishi was principal of a school in uMlazi.
“There were many changes happening at the time, many social upheavals and instabilities … Throughout it all he continued to be a voice of wisdom and guidance.”
“For him, it was about the children. No matter what was happening on the outside, he believed the focus should always be on them,” said Sishi.
“He believed in doing his best for all children.”
He said Chiliza had also always encouraged parents to play a more active role in their children’s education.
“He was one of the most important parent voices in the province, in encouraging (them) to do more.”
According to Sishi, Chiliza had also not been afraid to challenge teacher unions, who often clashed with the Department of Education at the expense of valuable teaching time.
“He will be missed tremendously. He was an important member of the education family.”
Chiliza believed in building a strong educational foundation for children in the schooling system.
“This is why he decided to become part of the organisation,” said Sishi.
He said that Chiliza had been involved in department initiatives such as its admissions policy.
Chiliza would be remembered as a “people’s person” and true democrat, he said.
Matakanye Matakanye, general secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, said Chiliza had always been kind and understanding, but also had a strong resolve to make real changes for children.
“Education was something very serious for him. He was passionate about it, about building (the association) into something more for the betterment of the system as a whole.”
He started as a parent on the school governing body of the Umlazi Comprehensive School, said Matakanye.
KZN Parents’ Association South Durban chairman, Vee Gani, said he had worked closely with Chiliza.
“He was very forthright and challenged the department of the unions if he thought things were not right.”
He added: “He definitely kept them on their toes.”
He said he had last seen him a few weeks ago when they had chatted about the department’s new 2016 admissions policy over a cup of coffee.
“I will miss our conversations and working with him. He was a man who towered above all others.”
He was also a member of National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).