Maria Lourdes Almazan Khan has contributed years of service to adult and continuing education in Asia. She has an extensive record of working in the field of adult and continuing education in different capacities for a variety of Asian non-governmental organizations (NGOs). As Secretary General, she has fostered the Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE) to become the most important adult education and civil society network in the Asia Pacific region – recognized regionally and internationally for its promotion of education work in general, and adult and continuing education work in particular. ASPBAE itself follows a clear policy on gender mainstreaming and provides special support to women everywhere.
Since 1995, Maria Khan has led ASPBAE as a regional, membership-based association promoting adult and continuing education. It works with and through more than 200 member organizations, active in the field of adult education in around 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific. Ever since she assumed leadership of ASPBAE it has grown in membership, staff and funding, and extended its cooperation to regional and international community of adult education and development organizations in a unique way. She has effectively led, sustained and guided the only regional civil society adult education organization in the Asia-Pacific to date. ASPBAE’s ability to survive in a climate of diminishing support to adult education, and the fragile resource base of most NGOs and CSOs in the Asia-Pacific region is testimony to the collective work of the organization’s membership, international partners, leadership and staff – but certainly due also to the foresight, organizational acumen and networking abilities of its Secretary General.
Under Khan’s leadership, ASPBAE has expanded its membership and programs; nurtured a transparent mechanism of governance and accountability with a leadership tradition that is visionary and pro-active. ASPBAE has developed into an institutionally robust, well-respected organization that is powerfully articulating and demonstrating the contribution of adult education in fighting poverty.
While stressing the important role of Civil Society Organization’s (CSOs) in adult education, Maria Khan has been a strong advocate for state responsibility in adult and continuing education provisioning. Deeply committed to advancing the right to education of all citizens, she has led efforts to pursue evidence-based advocacy work to convince governments and donors to depart from narrow interpretations of education rights (only universal primary education); to provide the full financial commitment and framework to address all Education for ALL (EFA) goals – including adult literacy and life skills which fall within the domain of lifelong learning; and to scale up learning opportunities of good quality, especially for the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups.Khan has inspired, trained and cultivated a deep pool of ASPBAE members, affiliates and supporters who unstintingly volunteer time and energy towards advancing adult education policy and practice in the region. This rich human resource base enriches and sustains ASPBAE’s adult education practice and strengthens the work of its members.
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