Olli-Pekka Heinonen and the entire International Baccalaureate community express our deepest condolences to the Walker family on former Director General George Walker's passing.
Mr Walker passed away peacefully on March 4, 2022, having spent two months in hospital following ongoing health issues.
"My thoughts are with his family during this difficult time. His dedication and passion for international education influenced the lives of thousands of students worldwide, a legacy we honour and celebrate", said Mr Heinonen.
Mr Walker studied Chemistry at Exeter College, Oxford and Music in Cape Town and gained MA and MSc degrees. His first move into a career in education was teaching science at Watford Boys Grammar School. A brief stint as a lecturer in education at the University of York was followed by an extended return to state education as Deputy Head of Carisbrooke High School on the Isle of Wight and then two successive Headships, first at The Heathcote School, Stevenage, and then The Cavendish School, Hemel Hempstead.
He was a vehement supporter of comprehensive education and helped to found, and later chaired, the steering committee of the Centre for the Study of Comprehensive Schools. He became a member of the UK National Curriculum working party and made an active contribution to the development of the curriculum. Mr Walker was appointed an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1992 for his services to education. In 1991, he took on a new role as Director General of the International School of Geneva, Switzerland. In 1999, he was appointed Director General of the IB, a role that he continued until his retirement.
In 2003, Mr Walker was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Bath. In his remarks that day, he shared his vision of international education:
"Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, once described education as 'peace keeping by another name.' If we accept that, then international education assumes an even more important role. In a shrinking and rather fragile world, the understanding of other cultures, the capacity to work in teams across national frontiers, and the ability to communicate effectively with people who have very different value systems to our own all become essential parts of any system of education."