The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning has recognised seven distinguished adult educators from different continents who have made signiificant contributions to the field of adult and lifelong learning as Honorary Fellows of the Insitute at a special function held on May 16,2017 at YU Garden, Hamburg.The function was organised coinciding the Consultative Group Meeting on CONFINTEA VI Mid-Term Review held during May 16-17,2017 at UIL in Hamburg,Germany. Professor S.Y.Shah ,Director of the Internationa Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education was invited to participate as an expert to discuss the key elements of the Mid Term Review.

Group Photograph of the Honorary Fellows

From left to right: Professor Arne Carlsen ,Director,UIL; Professor Veronica Mckay,Executive Dean,University of South Africa; Professor Kararina Popovic,Secretary General,ICAE; Professor Catherine Odora Hoppers,Chair,Department of Development Education,University of South Africa;Professor Ekkehard Nuissl, Kaiserslautern University of Technology,Germany ; Professor S.Y.Shah, Director,International Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education.New Delhi; Mr.Le Huy Lam,Director,SAMEO Regional C enter for Lifelong Learning,Ho Chi Minh City.Vietnam; Ms.Sylvia Schmelkes,Director,National Institute for Educationl Evaluation,Mexico.


UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning (UIL) Hamburg conferred Honorary Fellowships on seven distinguished personalities from different continents in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to international lifelong learning. All seven have, over long careers, made a substantial impact in relation to UIL’s mandate in research, capacity building, networking and publication in lifelong learning, with a focus on adult and continuing education, literacy and non-formal basic education. The fellowships were conferred at an award ceremony held on 16 May 2017.

The following is the excerpts from the interview with Professor Shah conducted by Ms.Lisa Christopher-a freelance journalist.

Welcome to the class of 2017 of Honorary Fellows of the UIL and congratulations Professor Shah.How do you feel after joining the illustrious group of distinguished Honorary Fellows of UIL?

I feel honoured and humbled. In my wildest dream, I never expected to be honoured by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning.In fact I consider the recognition by the UIL very important because it is the given by theUN organization specialising in lifelong learning. Iam extremelygrateful to UIL and Dr. Arne Carlsen, Director for this honour.

Please tell us something about your association with UIL and its programmes.

I have been associated with different programmes of UIL for over a decade. I had a chance to work with the Head of Documentation -Ms. Lisa Krolak, on ALADIN-India project and later on the development of a learning package on Participatory Adult Learning, Documentation and Information Network.Later I worked with the Senior Programme Specialist- Dr. Madhu Singh ona distance learning projectand thenwith another Senior Specialist - Dr. Ulrike Hanemann on a Bangaladesh Literacy Project and Recognition,Validation and Accreditation of Prior Learning. I have known Dr. Arne Carlsen much before he joined UIL, when he was the head of the EU Masters Programme in Lifelong Learning at Danish School of Education in Copenhagen where I was a Visiting Scholar.My interactions with him increased after I joined the ASEM Network on Professionalization of Adult Education. Apart from working on different projects and interacting with UIL specialists, I have lectured onUIL and its role in the promotion of lifelong learning as a part of a Masters course on International Networks and Organizations in Lifelong Learning which I had taught at JuliusMaximillian’s University,Germany in 2014 and 2016. As a part of the course, I escorted a group of students on a field visit to UIL which provided a rare chance to them to meet and listen to the presentations by UIL specialists and visit the library and documentation centre.I participated in several seminars, workshops and expert committee meetings organised by the UIL during the last decade. I have served as a review editor of the UIL journal - the International Review of Education. I have also published in the Journal. I continue to be the Member of the ALADIN Advisory Committee of the UIL.

What benefits did you or your country derive from the association with UIL?

Apart from deriving immense personalbenefits in terms of enriching professional knowledge and networking with experts from different parts of the globe, I could work towards strengthening adult education as a professional field. UIL supported my initiative in developing a learning package for the professional development of adult educators which was adopted and expanded by the Indira Gandhi National Open University into a Post graduate Diploma programme.I could succeed in getting five UIL scholarships to Indian students with a view to promoting the Diploma programme. UIL being the only UN institution focussing on lifelong learning, its publications and researches have been a great help in my teaching and research work. UIL also gave me free access to the journal.

What is the role of your International Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education (IIALE) in the promotion of adult and lifelong learning?

IIALE has the potential to play a key role in the field of adult education not only in India but also in the entire South Asia since there is no such institution in the region. Although more than half of the illiterates belong to this region; and India and other countries have been implementing several literacy programmes, the problem of illiteracy has been continuing. As several researches and evaluation studies have traced the ineffectiveness of the literacy programme to the poor quality of programme staff, we have to focuson improving their professional qualification and competence. This implies the need to focus on the professionalization of adult education. Hence,the main thrust of IIALE has been in this area and with the support of UIL, we have developed a learning package for the professional development of adult educators which is hosted on the UIL website. This learning package has led to the development of Certificate, Diploma and Masters Programme by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Our Institute functions as the studycentre of IGNOU. Over the last decade, IIALEhas succeeded in getting the cooperation of a large number of distinguished scholars from India and abroad. Since we have MoUs with the universities of Wurzburg and British Columbia, the students and teachers from these institutions have been visiting IIALE and participating in several activities.


A Rare Honour to Indian Adult Education: Professor S.Y. Shah inducted to
the International Hall of Fame

[From L-R] K.C.Choudhary, Chancellor, IIALE, Thomas A.Sork, Associate Dean, University of British Columbia, S.Y.Shah, Director, IIALE, Lawrence TSUI, Founder Director of Continuing Education, University of Macau
International Hall of Fame (HOF) in Adult Continuing Education has been honoring adult educators from different parts of the globe in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the field of Adult continuing Education at national and international levels.

Professor S.Y. Shah, currently the Director of International Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education and a former Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University received a gold medal and inducted to the International Hall of Fame in Adult Continuing Education at an impressive ceremony organized during the Annual Conference of the American Association of Adult Continuing Education held at Oklahoma on November 18, 2015.

The impressive ceremony was attended by Dr.K.C.Choudhary, Chancellor of International Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education. On the side-lines of ceremony, Prof. Shah and Choudhary met a renowned adult educator – Professor Alexander Charters who is 99 years and exchanged views on various issues. Afterwards, Professor Shah and Choudhary visited the International HOF located at the Department of Continuing Education of University of Oklahoma. Prof. Shah is the second Indian to receive the honour.

Prof. Shah has been recognized for his researches and publications in the area of history of adult education, professionalization, international cooperation and institutional building specially setting-up the International Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education and Indian Reading Association and editing the Indian Journal of Adult Education and International Journal of Adult and Lifelong Education for a couple of years besides taking leadership role in organizing several short-term courses, workshops, seminars and conferences; designing and teaching innovative courses in India and abroad and serving as Chairman/Member of several Expert Committees of National Literacy Mission, University Grants Commission, Planning Commission, World Literacy of Canada, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Indian Adult Education Association and Directorate of Adult Education.

Professor Shah has been a recipient of Nehru Literacy Award (2007).

Following interview on Skype by Professor Richard Patterson of Chicago University throws light on Prof. Shah’s work in the field of adult education.

Professor Richard Patterson: Hello Shah. Congratulations on being inducted into the International Hall of Fame (HOF) in Adult Continuing Education. How do you feel? How did it happen?
Thank you Patterson. I am delighted to join the HOF. I knew about the HOF and was quite familiar with the work of several members of the HOF as I used to give an assignment to my Masters students to select two eminent adult educators (one from India and one from overseas) and discuss their work in the class.
They invariably visited the website of HOF and selected one international adult educator from the members I had no idea how the persons were selected by the HOF. Then, one day I got an e-mail from Prof.Tom Sork, Senior Associate Dean of the University of British Columbia and a member of HOF that he wants to recommend my name to the HOF and if interested I should send him a copy of my CV. Needless to say that I complied with his request. Based on my CV, he undertook the tedious task of preparing my nomination papers. He informed me that he would request Professor Budd Hall to second my name. The nominator has to personally attend the function and introduce the nominee and hand over the plaque and medal which he did with pleasure.

What is your educational background and how did your professional career begin and when did you enter the field of adult education?

I did two Masters Degrees viz., History and Education and M.Phil and Ph.D in History of Education from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. My professional career began as a Lecturer in Education at the National Council of Educational Research and Training, New Delhi where I got the chance of working in India’s first non-formal education project at Bhumiadhar in Nainital District and later at Baruali in Aligarh district for about eight years. Subsequently when JNU launched adult education programme, I was appointed as an Assistant Director of Adult Continuing Education programme. With my long experience in training and material development in the area of non-formal education, I had no difficulty in initiating adult education programmes in the university.
What were your significant work in the field of adult education?
Apart from the mandatory work of planning and managing adult continuing education programmes in and around the campus of JNU, I devoted lot of time to do research in history of adult education. The credit should go to my teachers late Professor Tapas Majumdar and Sarvepalli Gopal who told me to focus on research and publications as it would justify my position in the university as an academic and earn respectability. Since I had the background of history, I started research in the area of history of adult education.

Broadly I worked in three areas viz., history of adult education, international cooperation and professionalization.
Professor Shah and Dr.Choudhary met Professor Alexander Charters who is 99 years old during the induction ceremony of the Hall of Fame at Oklahoma. Professor Charters has been a Professor of Adult Education at Syracuse University where he built-up an International Depository of Adult Education. He was also the founding President of International Society of Comparative Adult Education. He has several publications in the area of comparative adult education. He has also published his paper in the Indian Journal of Adult Education and visited India.
Also seen in the photo is Professor Margret Charters, wife of Professor Alexander Charters.
I observed that though there were several documents in adult education, they were scattered and not easily accessible to researchers or policy makers. Hence I began by collecting and editing all the important documents related to Indian adult education and brought out a Source Book and an Encyclopedia of Adult Education in India which were readily published by the National Literacy Mission of Government of India. Then I started identifying eminent adult educators and examining their ideas and work. Since during those days, the university was implementing Each One Teach One programme originally developed by Dr.Frank Laubach - an American PresbyterianMissionary, I began studying his ideas and work. As he had donated all his papers to Syracuse University, I travelled to Syracuse with a Kellogg Visiting Scholar Award and studied his collection which was kept in 56 boxes and edited a volume on his work in India which was published by Indian Adult Education Association. During late 1980s, when India had launched literacy campaigns, I was curious to know the origins of the campaign approach. Since my readings showed that Bihar had launched a successful literacy campaign as early as 1930s, I researched and wrote a book on Adult Education in Bihar which was again published by IAEA on the occasion of Golden Jubilee. Then I was invited to write a piece on history of adult education in India for the Encyclopedia of Education published by NCERT.

Since one of my task in JNU was developing the discipline of adult education and introduce teaching programme, I started reading about the development of university adult education. I came to know that as early as 1960’s, the University of Rajasthan had set-up the first department of adult education in India. My colleague Dr. Anita Dighe suggested that I study the Rajasthan experience to gain some insights into the development of university adult education. At that time, I had a chance of meeting late Professor James Draper -one of the persons closely associated with the setting-up of the department of adult education at Rajasthan University. From my interactions with him I came to know the role of several Canadians in the promotion of university adult education in India. This led me to focus on international cooperation and examine overseas influences on Indian adult education and I brought out two publications on the role and influence of Canada and Britain on Indian adult education.

I understand that you are the Co-coordinator of the Asia Europe network on Professionalization of Adult Education. When and how did your work in the area of professionalization of adult education begin? Did you face any challenge?

My work on professionalization of adult education began in JNU. One of my mandate in JNU was on developing the discipline of adult education and designing professional courses in adult education. It was not easy as I had thought. When I discussed the idea with the then Dean of School of Social Sciences late Professor Ashok Mathur, he was not sure whether the students in JNU would be interested in such a course and he suggested that I should offer anon-credit course on adult education to ascertain the interest of students. Following his advice, I designed anon-credit course and advertised and some of the students responded. I taught the course once in a week for a semester and initially 24 students registered for the course and I gave them a certificate of participation. In the subsequent three semesters, the number of students increased to 34 and 42. The last batch of students felt that the course should be offered as a regular credit course and they submitted a memorandum to the Vice Chancellor which was forwarded to the Dean and I was asked to design a credit course. Thus an adult education course was introduced in JNU mainly due to the demand from the students.

During my interactions with several literacy workers, I came to know that a number of them were keen to take-up a professional course in adult education to improve their knowledge. But they were not interested in joining a full time course. They felt that if there is a short course through Open Distance Learning mode, they could pursue it along with their job. I took-up the challenge and with the support of UGC and UNESCO Institute for Education and National Literacy Mission and active cooperation of several academics, a short course on Participatory Adult Learning and Documentation and Networking (PALDIN) consisting of two learning packages were developed and it was hosted on the UNESCO website so that interested adult education functionaries could benefit. Since most of the learners were keen to have a certificate from a recognized university, I approached the then Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University- Professor Rajasekharan Pillai with a request to explore the possibilities of expanding the learning package into a diploma programme. The university reviewed the materials and in due course, expanded it to a Post Graduate Diploma Programme in Adult Education. A global survey undertaken by the Slovenian Institute of Adult Education identified PALDIN as one of three innovative professional development programmes for adult educators.

My interest in professionalization did not confine to developing professional courses, but I felt that a professional institute would be a great help in furthering professionalization. Hence I was exploring the possibilities of setting-up an Institute.

How did you pursue the idea of setting-up an Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education?

Since I was working as a Senior Fellow at the erstwhile National Institute of Adult Education in New Delhi, where I was engaged in designing professional development programmes and other activities, I had an idea and understood the importance of such an Institute in furthering professionalization of adult education. Subsequent to the closure of the Institute, there was a demand for such an Institute in different forums of adult education. As I was the Vice President of IAEA and actively involved in several activities of IAEA, viz; designing and directing short courses on research methodology and recent developments in adult continuing education, organizing seminars, workshops and editing the Indian Journal Adult Education, I felt that if such professional activities are undertaken under the aegis of an Institute, it would command better recognition. I discussed the idea with Dr.K.C.Choudhary, President of IAEA during an informal luncheon meeting. He not only welcomed the idea but asked me to prepare the blue print of such an institute. All the members of the Executive Committee endorsed the idea and the Institute was registered as a non-profit organization in 2002. I am happy to say that, the institute has succeeded in getting the cooperation of a large number of national and international scholars and it is functioning well over a decade.

What is your current research interest ?

Since Iam the co-coordinatorof the ASEM Network on Professionalization of Adult Education,Iam keenly interested in research in this area. Being a historian, Iam currently researching and writing the history of the Indian Adult Education Association which has completed 75 years. Besides I am also interested in policy studies.

What are the major achievements of the Institute?

The institute started functioning with an International Seminar on Urban Literacy supported by the British Council and National Literacy Mission. Although the institute launched an International Journal of Adult and Lifelong Education which I edited for over three years, it could not be continued due to the lack of quality articles. With the support of the UNESCO Institute for Education, a study of adult learning organizations in India was undertaken which led to the development of a professional development programme (PALDIN). We have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of British Columbia (Canada), J.M. University, Wurzburg (Germany) for undertaking collaborative programmes and exchange of faculty and students. We have been organizing annual James Draper Lectures by eminent scholars. We have an active publication plans.

As the Director of the institute did you face any challenge?

Because of the strong support of the Chancellor and other members of the Institute, I did not face any problem in managing the Institute. However lack of interest among the faculty in taking-up research programmes and bringing out publications has been an important issue. Besides attracting young scholars to take active interest in adult and lifelong learning has been a big challenge. Hence we are planning to grant a number of Visiting Scholar Awards to young scholars and Scholar in Residence Awards to senior academics to visit the Institute and carry out their researches.

I understand that you were very closely associated with NGOs specially IAEA. What were your experiences of working with NGOs?

I have had a rewarding experience of working with NGOs specially- IAEA for over two decades. For about a decade when I was the Vice President of IAEA,I took active interest in organizing short courses on research methodology and recent developments in adult education in collaboration with JNU. During my tenure as a member of India Advisory Board of World Literacy of Canada for over a decade, I designed an innovative curriculum for their adult education programme in eastern U.P.I observed that NGO’s invariably welcomed the academic guidance provided by academicians.

I have seen from your CV that you worked as a Joint Advisor in Planning Commission and served as a Chairman of the Twelfth Five Year Plan Sub Group on Adult Education and member of several Committees of the government. What has been your experience of working with Government?

Working in Government was a great learning experience for me. In fact I joined Planning Commission mainly to understand how the five year plans are made and funds are allocated. I got an opportunity to learn the art of drafting the chapter on Education of the Eight Five Year Plan and understand the intricacies of policy formulation. Based on my experience in Planning Commission, I wrote a paper on funding of adult education. In fact, I enjoyed working in Government and during my interactions with some of the senior civil servants specially late Mr. Anil Bordia, Dr. L. Mishra, Mr. M. R. Kolhatkar and Mr. Bhaskar Chatterjee, I found them to be very competent and committed to adult education. Though serving as bureaucrats, some of them were better than university professors in terms of their scholarship, analytical skills and command over language. I have had the privilege of observing and working with all the Director Generals of National Literacy Mission and I observed that the success of literacy programme depended primarily on the quality of their leadership.

I have noticed that you had travelled to over thirty countries in connection with conferences, meetings, research and teaching. What were some of the highlights?

I got an opportunity to teach and do research in several overseas universities viz; Syracuse, Toronto, Nottingham, Warwick, Duisburg Essen, Wurzburg and Aarhus. The academic atmosphere in those universities was very stimulating and helped me carry out good researches. The time I spent aboard, broadened my vision. The students took active interest in discussions. In all my lectures, sometime was given to group discussions among students on various aspects of the lecture. Some of the contacts, I had developed led to collaborative projects and lasting friendship.

What are your current interests and activities?

Currently my interest is in writing the history of Indian Adult Education Association which has completed 75 years. Since UNESCO has nominated me as one of the fifteen members of the international THINK TANK in Recognition, Validation and Accreditation of Prior Learning, I will be carrying out research in this area during the next year. I would also like to work towards developing our Institute as an excellent academic institution and function as a THINK TANK in adult and lifelong learning. I would also like to develop an adult education archive at the institute which includes interviews with eminent adult educators and all the relevant documents.

In your acceptance speech, you said that your profession has been your pastime. What did you mean?

I meant that I really enjoyed my work in the field of adult education both as a teacher and researcher. Since I did research only on those topics which really interested me, I enjoyed the process and it was never a burden. Besides, I made friendship with some of the eminent adult educators from all over the world. I was fortunate that because of my work in adult education I got several invitations to attend conferences and workshops from the national and international agencies and universities which were rewarding professionally and personally.

Frankly speaking, Professor Shah, I am really impressed by your achievements and I hope you will continue your work in the field of adult education like a true lifelong learner. Thank you for the interview.

It was a pleasure talking to you, Professor Patterson. Thank you very much.


Teaching Experience at Julius Maximilian University

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