Among a lifetime of achievements, a significant contribution Un Shil Choi has made as education practitioner and scholar is laying the foundation for lifelong learning in South Korea. She instituted lifelong learning at the Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI), the research arm for educational policies under the Ministry of Education. In her capacity as head of a lifelong education unit, she coordinated a national survey on literacy, engaged in more than 100 research works and policy forums on adult learning, and mentored hundreds of graduate students. As president of the Korean Society of Lifelong Education and as chair of the Korean Federation for Lifelong Education, she played a pivotal role in revising the Lifelong Learning Act and institutionalizing the National Institute for Lifelong Learning (NILE), the national clearing house of lifelong education. Over the past three decades, she has been highly regarded as a leader in lifelong learning and a visionary in the field.
Choi earned her PhD (1986) in adult education, her MA (1981) in sociology of education, and her BA (1978) in education, all from Ewha Woman’s University.
The founder and director of the Education Research Institute at Ajou University, Choi created a Mecca for nontraditional adult students by advocating adult alternative education. She organized the international conference and symposium and hosted regional policy dialogues among practitioners in China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Macau. Before joining the university, she worked for the Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI), where she conducted numerous research studies.
Her contributions to lifelong learning have been recognized, both home and abroad. She received the Order of Civil Merit by the South Korean government and was invited to join the UNESCO International Jury for Literacy Prize in 2003. As a leading scholar, she also served on the advisory committee of UNESCO-UIL-CONFINTIA VI and was Korean coordinator of ASEM Education and Research Hub for Lifelong Learning. She played a significant role in designing and disseminating the best practices of policy interventions such as Lifelong Learning City, Academic Credit Bank System, Lifelong Learning Account, and Lifelong Learning University.
Choi has led the development of hundreds of policy papers related to lifelong education and has written more than 53 articles for academic journals. In addition, she has written ten books, including Theories and Practices of Management of Lifelong Education and Exploring Foundations of Lifelong Program Development. She is a member of the editorial boards for Journal of Lifelong Learning Society and Journal of Education Research.
Committed to better serving marginalized citizens, Choi worked with local governments to establish such entities as the Citizen’s Community College and the Coaching Academy. She organized the Joyful Learning Village, a learning project for the residents of a Hansen’s disease community who had been isolated for many decades. She initiated learning events for multicultural immigrant families in Gyounggi Province. Currently, she serves as president and chair of the Korea Federation of Lifelong Education (KFLE), a nonprofit organization advocating, on behalf of girls and women, education, literacy, and peace; monitoring and evaluating lifelong learning practices; and empowering grassroots practitioners of adult learning across the country. She has launched the Round-The-Clock Project to support voluntary self-sustaining learning events targeted to adult women, the disabled, and retired senior citizens. She advocates lifelong education by mobilizing networks of experts, mid-level managers, and grassroots workers of voluntary organizations of lifelong education.As president of the Korean Society of Lifelong Education, she worked with members to organize a series of learning provisions that played a pivotal role in institutionalizing and legislating lifelong education laws, the first in their kind in Korean history. Her community-level engagement includes active roles in Korea Women’s Lifelong Learning Association, a voluntary civic organization promoting gender mainstreaming and empowerment of women.
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