S. Y. Shah, the founding director of the International Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education, New Delhi, India, has worked on behalf of adult education within India and internationally for decades. His advocacy for literacy programs in India, mentoring graduate students, creating innovative programs, policy making , and serving as keynote speaker and conference presenter all speak volumes about his many contributions to the field. Further, his research and publications, along with his international service activities, have raised the profile of adult education in India far beyond its borders. Through his books and articles, he has synthesized much of the scholarship and research produced in India and put it into an accessible form for readers throughout the world.
Shah’s commitment to improving the preparation of adult educators from grassroots literacy and community development workers to doctoral-level researchers is unparalleled. He has worked throughout his career to develop India’s capacity to design, deliver, and document adult education activities throughout society. He understands the important role that adult education plays in the development and growth of India, as well as the entire South Asia region. He has used his influence as a respected academic and leader to ensure that adult education was embedded in India’s Five-Year Plans and that the people needed to carry out those plans were well prepared. He continues this important work through his executive editor role for the Indian Journal of Adult Education, an important source of current research and best practices in India. His participation in conferences and publishing projects in Europe on the professionalization of adult educators have brought a much-needed South Asian perspective to what could have been a very Euro-centric analysis.
He conceived the idea of designing an innovative web-based learning package on Participatory Adult Learning Documentation and Information Networking (PALDIN) in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and several Delhi-based organizations. During his tenure as an expert member of the subject Committees of the University Grants Commission of India, he contributed to the development of policy and program guidelines on university adult education.
Shah’s commitment to the professionalization of adult education through a variety of formal and non-formal programs stands out. As a professor of adult education at Jawaharlal Nehru University, he succeeded in introducing adult education as a discipline of study at the master’s level. The PALDIN learning package was recognized in a global survey as one of three innovative courses for the professional development of adult educators. This learning package formed the basis for the development of a post-graduate diploma program in adult education offered by Indira Gandhi National Open University (India’s premier distance education university). He continues to champion the professional development of adult educators because he understands their important role in India’s ambitious literacy campaigns and national community development initiatives.
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