Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed as the new British education secretary after winning plaudits for his efficient and fuss-free COVID vaccine program.
“Education is a crucial part of our levelling up agenda so it’s an honor to be back at the Department for Education as secretary of state,” said Zahawi, BBC reported.
“Children and young people have had a tough time during this pandemic and I’ll be listening to them and their families as we accelerate our work to build back better and fairer.”
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Becoming a first non-white education secretary in history, Zahawi took office after Gavin Williamson’s gaffe-prone tenure came to an end.
The departing education secretary had faced much criticism over his handling of schools during the pandemic.
“We can’t pretend we are sorry that Gavin Williamson has gone,” said teachers’ union leader Kevin Courtney.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “One of the most pressing tasks facing Zahawi will be to ensure that the government now fulfils its promise to deliver a properly funded recovery package so that every pupil in the country receives the support they need and deserve.
“With the comprehensive spending review only weeks away, there really is no time to waste.”
“The Department for Education may now be under new management but the same challenges remain,” said Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union.
Born in Baghdad to Kurdish parents, Zahawi is one of the Commons’ richest MPs, as a co-founder of pollsters YouGov and with interests in other areas such as petroleum before he became a minister.
Zahawi’s BSc degree in chemical engineering from University College London marks him out as a break from the Oxbridge and humanities graduates who more regularly populate the DfE’s top post. But unlike Williamson, who attended a state comprehensive, Zahawi attended King’s College School in Wimbledon, where fees are more than £20,000 a year.
Zahawi is the sixth education secretary since 2014, following Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening, Damian Hinds and Williamson in the role since Michael Gove’s reign, suggesting the post is not a direct route to higher political office.