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African educators bid farewell to one of their former leaders

Thomas Ango Bediako (87), Education International’s Chief Regional Coordinator from 1993 until 2003, was laid to rest in his birthtown Kotwa, Bakwai District, Ghana, on 10 May. More than two thousand people took part in the ceremonies, which lasted a full day.

Government representatives highlighted contributions made by Mr. Bediako to the development of Ghana throughout his life, which earned him a “state funeral” with military honour. In his remarks EI General Secretary Emeritus Fred van Leeuwen described Tom Bediako as a gifted educator, a dedicated union activist and a passionate fighter for justice, freedom and democracy. “When representing the African education sector in the international community, he tirelessly advocated for education to be placed higher on the political agendas, and reminded national governments, in Africa as well as in Europe and other parts of the world, of their responsibility to expand and strengthen Africa’s public school systems,” he said.


The  decision by the United Nations in 1995 to select Education for All as one of the prime millennium development goals had Bediako’s fingerprints all over it, according to Van Leeuwen. He also spoke of Bediako as the anti-apartheid activist who succeeded in mobilizing the entire African teachers’ movement against the South African apartheid system and in helping the teachers of South Africa resist oppression, fight for freedom and democracy and form their first multi-racial education union, SADTU. 


Among the people paying tribute to Tom Bediako were many hundreds of members of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), other education unions, as well as trade union representatives from South Africa, Gambia, Zimbabwe and the USA.


EI was represented by its Vice President for Africa, John Mugwena Malukeke, Chief Regional Coordinator, Assibi Napoe, and the staff of EI’s regional office in Accra.


Thomas Bediako is survived by his wife, Agnes, four children, twenty four grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren.


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