Jong-Gon Hwang is considered the father of Korean adult education in both theory and practice. As a pioneer in the field, he founded the Korean Society of Adult Education, the first academic society of adult education in Korea, and became its president in 1966. His attention expanded to working with educators, which led him to play a key role in founding the Korean Association of Adult Education, the first association of the practitioners of adult education. He went on to serve as the first Secretary-General and later President of the same organization.
His major contributions were establishing Korean adult education as a social system by leading legislative processes and related policy making in Korea and by serving as the President and a member of the Presidents’ Committee of Education Reform of Korea.
Dr. Hwang strongly advocated the necessity and value of basic adult education and literacy for the older generation and immigrant workers of Korea. The successive efforts not only changed the horizon of educational practice but also his life trajectory. The modern history of Korea, including the Japanese annexation, Korean War, and economic poverty, put the older generations at an educational disadvantage, while the Korean government focused concern on the education of youth. There was a forgotten generation in the history of social development in Korea. Dr. Hwang’s inspiration and enthusiasm for democracy, social equality, and human rights committed him to the revival of literacy and adult basic education.
He was the first scholar in Korea to devote himself to social education as an independent area of research. Attention to the field has rapidly increased with the enactment of the Social Education Law in 1982, also with later revision to the Lifelong Education Law in 1999, under Dr. Hwang’s leadership. He served as a member of the President’s Committee on Education Reform, representing the field of adult education. For much of his career, he served as of Dean of the Graduate School of Adult Education at Kyemyong University in Daegu City and also Myongji University in Seoul.
His international contribution is also exceptional. He was a leader of the Asia-Pacific region in developing the field and a core member of ASPBAE. He served two terms as the president of ASPBAE-- Region 3. He was also an editorial board member of Convergence, the International Council for Adult Education’s official journal.
His enthusiasm for teaching never stopped, even after retiring in Korea. When he was 74 years old, he decided to go to China alone in 2002 and devote himself to teaching vocational school students. In 2004, People’s Government of Shandong Province, China, presented him the “Chiru Award,” recognizing his dedication to teaching Korean language and literature in Shandong Textile Vocational College.To recognize Dr. Hwang’s contribution, ASPBAE awarded him Arnold Hely Award and ICAE gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award.
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