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Aaron Benavot

Aaron Benavot

Hall of Fame Class of 2023

For more than two decades Aaron Benavot has been a strong, unwavering, and innovative voice in international policy and monitoring discussions of adult learning and education and lifelong learning. His involvement in the development, drafting, and dispersing of seven UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Reports and two UNESCO Gender Reviews represent a seminal contribution to the international field of adult and continuing education.

Benavot is professor of global education policy for the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership in the School of Education at the University at Albany–SUNY, a position he has held since 2008. There, his interests center on comparative education research, global education policy, and the interactions between education, global citizenship, and sustainable development. His scholarship critically examines the contours of primary and secondary education and the spread of national and international learning assessments.

In 2005, Benavot joined UNESCO’s Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report team, serving first as a senior analyst (through 2009) and then as director (2014–2017). He worked extensively on the first Global Monitoring Report on adult literacy (2006), drafting key historical and monitoring chapters. The report, translated into the six UN languages, sparked new interest in adult learning and education (ALE) among international, regional, and national policy makers. His leadership in the monitoring of youth and adult literacy shone a light on emerging adult learning and education scholarship, especially in the Global South, and helped influence policy debates over the individual and collective benefits of ALE. Benavot contributed in 2016 to another particularly influential report focusing on the unprecedented global goal on education, which, for the first time in history, involved country commitments to “promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

As part of and in addition to his work for UNESCO, Benavot has contributed to international expert groups and publications on adult learning and education. Among other works, he is coauthor of Global Educational Expansion: Historical Legacies and Political Obstacles (2006) and School Knowledge for the Masses: World Models and National Primary Curricular Categories in the Twentieth Century (1992; 2017). Benavot has served on the editorial or advisory boards of more than a dozen journals including the International Review of Education—Journal of Lifelong Learning and the Journal of Research and Practice for Adult Literacy, Secondary, and Basic Education.

Benavot has given numerous presentations on adult learning and education in academic, professional, and agency venues around the world. He has held visiting appointments at institutions in Southeast Asia, South America, Europe, and the United States. Among other appointments, in 2018 he shared his expertise as Fulbright Specialist in Vietnam, leading a workshop on the monitoring of lifelong learning. In 2019–2020, he served as a High-Level Expert on lifelong learning at East China Normal University in Shanghai; he also taught measurement of lifelong learning at Shanghai Open University and Chengdu Open University.

Benavot earned his doctorate in sociology at Stanford University. As a committed scholar, teacher, policy analyst, and international consultant, he has consistently advanced evidence-oriented analyses of adult learning and education and lifelong learning in their many manifestations. Benavot’s recent work highlights the role of adult and lifelong learning in addressing global challenges such as sustainability, climate change, and global citizenship