Alberto Melo

Alberto Melo

Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Alberto Melo has left a rich and long-lasting impact in lifelong education and learning and welfare development in Portugal. He has contributed in both policy and development work for lifelong learning, especially after his country became a democracy in 1974 following nearly 50 years of dictatorship. His pioneering work was then instrumental in developing the process that led to the first National Plan for Adult Literacy and Basic Education in Portugal in 1979.

He worked for several years at the Open University in Milton Keynes in the UK, the Paris University of Dauphine, and has been an occasional consultant for UNESCO, OECD, the European Commission, and the International Bureau of Education. In his homeland, he spent over 45 years promoting adult education in academia as a professor at the University of Algarve, in the public sector as a director-general for lifelong education, and in the civil sector with his work to, first, create an association to foster territorial development and welfare and, later, to establish and maintain a national umbrella for adult education.   

Since 1985, he has led a series of projects to promote integrated development and general welfare in the rural inland of southern Portugal and to find out what local groups were currently doing and could actually do to overcome a long-drawn and deeply rooted condition of poverty, illiteracy, and underemployment at a time when nearly 40 percent of the Portuguese people in the countryside were still unable to read and write. His efforts combined community education and development and led to the opening of early childhood care centers and the creation of income-generating activities for unemployed village citizens, mostly women.

At the end of the 1980s, Melo managed a national task force whose remit was to design a system of integrated adult education and training for Portugal in the 21st century. A main feature of this system was and still is the accreditation of experiential learning. He has served as a lecturer and chairperson for Senior’s Academies and been the head of the Executive Council of the APCEP, the Portuguese umbrella organization for lifelong culture and education, since 2014. In 2017, one of the local organizations affiliated in APCEP received the Annual ERASMUS Award delivered by the European Association for the Education of Adults.

As a researcher, Melo published works on a variety of topics, including education and training for local development, integrated rural development, adult education and lifelong education, migrant cultures, and multicultural education. 

In 2003, he received a national commendation awarded by the president of the Portuguese Republic in recognition for his work in adult and community education.