Syed Nawazish Bokhari passed away on March 1 at the age of 73.
Bokhari dedicated his life to public service and to the development of Britain’s Muslim community. He worked in education for 37 years, improving education standards for thousands of pupils.
In 1985 he was appointed the first Muslim deputy head of a British secondary school and the first Muslim headmaster. At the time of retiring as Principal of Ernest Bevin College in Tooting, south London, he had taken the school from undersubscribed and underachieving to one of the most improved in the whole country. GCSE candidates’ A-C grades rose from 18% in 1999, to 60% in 2003, while A-level results showed a pass rate of 95%. The OFSTED report paid tribute to his qualities of leadership. He was also an Education Consultant.
He was a founder member of North London Muslim Welfare Association and a member of Wandsworth Policing Committee and Racial Incident Panel.
In recognition of his expertise, he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education as a council member of the General Teaching Council of England. His commitment to improve and encourage teaching excellence nationally led him to be appointed as a UK Judge of the Teaching Awards. His work for Building Understanding through International Links for Development and UK One World Linking Association and the British Council also made an international impact to education.
Bokhari, who was honoured with OBE in 2001 for his service to education, told The Muslim News after receiving the accolade that he felt “very humbled” and said he was “very fortunate to have worked with able and dedicated people in the last 20 years.”
In 2007, he was short listed for The Muslim News Sankore University award for excellence in education.
Many paid tribute to Bokhari for his dedication to the communities.
One of his pupils, Shadow Justice Secretary, Rt Hon Sadiq Khan, said Bokhari
“encouraged many boys, including me, to aspire to go to university but also to put something back into society.” Khan added that his achievements “would be limited were I not instilled with the drive and respect that I learnt first-hand from such an amazing, yet humble gentleman.”
First Minister of Scotland, Rt Hon Alex Salmond, said Bokhari
“served as a wonderful ‘ambassador’ to Scotland, and I have no doubt he will be hugely missed by all who knew him.”
Bokhari’s daughter, Hina, paying tribute to her father said: “My father was my inspiration, however I didn’t realise what an amazing impact he had on others too, young and old, from all cultures and religions.
“His gift was that he could get on with everyone. He worked on many multi faith projects and had believed that everyone had the ability to work with each other despite differences.
“There are very few people as dedicated to so many projects. But he was always first a wonderful husband and father. He was devoted to us and never let us down.”
Syed Bokhari is survived by his wife, Razwana, son, Harif and daughter, Hina.