Mazanah Muhamad is one of Malaysia’s most distinguished scholars, researchers and practitioners in adult and continuing education. She is highly recognized not only in Malaysia but throughout Asia, Southeast Asia in particular, the United States and Europe for her work in developing, adapting and revalidating adult learning theory and practice to Malaysian, Islamic and Southeast Asian social and cultural contexts.
Currently, Mazanah is professor of adult education, chair of Cancer Education and Services, and chair of Center on Research in Adult and Lifelong Learning, at Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in plant pathology at Universiti Pertanian Malaysia - now Universiti Putra Malaysia - in 1978, her master’s degree in 1984 and her doctorate in adult and continuing education at North Carolina State University in 1987. In addition, Mazanah completed a postgraduate, four-month certificate program in agricultural science at the International Agricultural Center in Wageningen, Netherlands in 1979, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Georgia in 2003.
Following the completion of her doctorate, she returned to Malaysia’s Department of Agriculture and was given the responsibility for leading its staff training and career development program for the country’s extension specialists and field-based agents. Mazanah’s leadership and demonstrated track record of success in championing adult education as a field of practice and scholarship in Malaysia quickly caught the attention of the Universiti Pertanian Malaysia and she joined the faculty as a lecturer in adult and continuing education. As a professor, Mazanah has become the leader for adult education in both Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Her impact in improving the quality of life for millions in her homeland and neighboring countries through education is evident in the number of her graduates in adult education who are holding adult education leadership positions in these countries.
A widely published author on adult education, learning and programming, Mazanah has written 33 books, book chapters and refereed journal articles, as well as other publications. Significantly, the major theme and content of these published materials focus on the findings of her cultural contexts and the adaptation and integration of Western ideas in the Eastern world. She has brought adult education as a professional field of practice and scholarship to the forefront in Malaysia and its neighboring nations of Southeast Asia.
Perhaps Mazanah’s greatest contribution to adult and continuing education is her leadership and success in persuading higher education, government and significant other stakeholder groups in Malaysia to embrace and support adult education as a professional field of scholarship and practice. Through her systematic inquiry on adult education and how it is practiced in the Malaysian and Islamic social/cultural contexts, combined with the incorporation of these research findings in published works, Mazanah has contributed greatly to the body of knowledge and scholarship that defines the nature and scope of adult education as a discipline, profession and field of practice.
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