Arnold Stanley Macmath Hely served the field of adult and continuing education loyally and diligently from 1937 until his death in 1967. During those 30 years, as well as holding a series of important paid positions in the field, he fulfilled a number of significant voluntary roles, which enhanced the visibility and stature of adult and continuing education not only within Australia and New Zealand but also Internationally.
Hely’s achievements include being: one of the founders of the Australian Association of Adult Education (AAAE); one of two Australian representatives at the Second UNESCO World Conference on Adult Education (Montreal) in 1960: a founding committee member of International Congress of University Adult Education; a member of the UNESCO International Committee for the Advancement of Adult Education; principally responsible for organizing the UNESCO Regional Seminar on Adult Education, held in Sydney, January 1964; and the founder of the Asian South Pacific Bureau Adult Education and its Secretary-General until his death.
Additionally, it was Hely who brought Australian and New Zealand adult education for the first time into the international arena. His writings did much to spread the key concepts of adult education and learning across the field both within Australia and New Zealand and, through his work with UNESCO, internationally.
Hely was born in Birkenhead England, November 17, 1907. His family migrated to New Zealand after WWI. In the early 1920s he left school and became a merchant seaman.
As an unemployed (because of the Great Depression) seaman, he began to take Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) classes in 1931. He was awarded, in 1932, a WEA Scholarship at the Auckland University College, where he completed a Bachelor of Commerce (and later a BA and then a MA)
In 1937, he was appointed as the WEA Organizer with special responsibility for gaining additional trade union affiliations and increasing working class participation in WEA classes. In 1938 he was appointed as a Tutor-Organizer for the WEA, a position he held until 1947 (broken by his military service, 1942-45).
He was appointed in 1947 as the Director of Adult Education at the Victoria University, Wellington. In 1957 he was appointed Director of Tutorial Classes (i.e. Adult Education), University of Adelaide in South Australia. Here, as an “outsider/newcomer”, he played the leading role in overcoming the deep divisions that had prevented the formation of a national inclusive adult education association in Australia (AAAE).
In 1960, Hely represented Australia at the Second UNESCO World Conference on Adult Education in Montreal Canada and later at the founding meeting of the International Congress of University Adult Education (ICUAE) held in Syracuse USA. During the World Conference, Hely convened a meeting of those delegates who lived in Asia and the Pacific. This meeting included representatives of the most and least populous nations in the world.
Hely used his involvement with ICUAE and other international bodies, such as the WCOTP and eventually his membership of the UNESCO International Committee for the Advancement of Adult Education (from 1963), as well as his international contacts to press the claim for an Australian organized regional Asia / Pacific seminar on adult education.
The task was a very difficult one. The region had very many poor nations. However, eventually, Hely was able to gain the necessary approvals and put together a funding package for the seminar, the UNESCO Regional Seminar on Adult Education, which was held in Sydney, January 1964.
The most lasting and important outcome of the seminar was the formation of a regional adult education organization, Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE) – the second oldest such regional organization in the world after the European Bureau of Adult Education. He is regarded as the founder of ASPBAE and was its Secretary-General until his death.
In 1965, Hely returned to New Zealand as Secretary of the National Council of Adult Education. He died December 17, 1967, at 60 years of age, much honored and respected by his many friends and colleagues around the world.
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