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2017 UIL Honorary Fellowship Awards

UIL Honorary Fellows 2017

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the development of lifelong learning, UIL awards a symbolic distinction to seven advocates of adult education, literacy and non-formal basic education.

The UIL Honorary Fellows for 2017 were: Professor Catherine Odora Hoppers, South Africa; Dean Veronica McKay, South Africa; Director Le Huy Lam, Viet Nam; Director S.Y Shah, India; Professor Ekkehard Nuissl, Germany; Professor Katarina Popović, Serbia; and Director-General Sylvia Schmelkes, Mexico.

The Honorary Fellows will support and shape UIL’s work in the years to come.

Catherine Odora HOPPERS

Professor Catherine Odora Hoppers is Research Chair in Development Education from the University of South Africa, a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. She holds two honorary doctorates: in philosophy from Örebro University (Sweden) and in education from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (South Africa).

An expert in basic education, lifelong learning, information systems and on Science and Society (UNESCO), Professor Hoppers is also an expert in disarmament (advising the United Nations Department of Disarmament Affairs), on benefit sharing and value addition protocols (advising the World Economic Forum), and on traditional knowledge and community intellectual property rights (advising the World Intellectual Property Organization).

She received the Presidential Medal of Honour for Academic Learning from the President of Uganda in 2013; a National Pioneers Award from the Elders of South Africa in 2014; the Nelson Mandela Distinguished Africanist Award for Leadership from His Excellency Thabo Mbeki in 2015; and the University of South Africa (UNISA) Woman of the Year award, also in 2015. She was named a ‘Leading Educationist’ and honoured in the Gallery of Leadership in a permanent exhibition at the UNISA Kgorong Center as one of the 63 most influential people who have shaped UNISA since its inception.

Le Huy LAM

Le Huy Lam is Director of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Lifelong Learning (SEAMEO CELLL), based in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. His background is in teacher training and teaching with technology. He served as a full-time lecturer in Communication Skills and American Studies at the Department of English, University of Education, Ho Chi Minh City, for 20 years (1991–2012) and as visiting lecturer in teaching with technology for the graduate programme at the HCMC Open University from 2012 to 2014, when he became Director of SEAMEO CELLL.

Since 2012, he has attended and served as speaker, keynote speaker and member of the drafting committee at many regional and international conferences. These include the International Expert Working Group Meeting to Prepare the International Conference on Learning Cities (Je-ju, Republic of Korea, 2013), the International Conference on Learning Cities (Beijing, 2013), the Second Think-tank Meeting on Positioning Lifelong Learning in the Post-2015 Agenda (Hamburg, 2013), the International Conference on Quality Education and Lifelong Learning for All (Vang Vien, 2014), the ASEM LLL Conference on Renewing the Agenda for Lifelong Learning (Bali, 2015) and the ASEM-LLL Hub Conference, Self-Learning in the Digital Era (New Delhi, 2016), where his keynote presentation discussed the use of MOOCs in delivering learning content for community learning centres in the region.

SEAMEO CELLL, under his leadership, has been active in national and regional research projects such as Building a Learning Society in Viet Nam, Kominkan and Practical Lessons for Regional Community Learning Centres (Viet Nam), Adult Skills and Competencies for Lifelong Learning, The Role of Community Learning Centres as Facilitators of Lifelong Learning (UNESCO Bangkok) and most recently, Towards a Lifelong Learning Agenda in Southeast Asian Countries, with technical and financial assistance from the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. Concerning the latter, the eleven Southeast Asian Countries referred to are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor‐Leste, and Viet Nam.

Veronica McKAY

Professor Veronica McKay is the Executive Dean of the College of Education at the University of South Africa (UNISA) which is responsible for the initial and continuing development of approximately 45 per cent of South Africa’s teachers, including adult educators.

From 2007 to 2011, Professor McKay was seconded from UNISA to the South African Department of Basic Education to establish and lead the South African Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign, which aimed to halve the illiteracy rate in South Africa by 2015, as part of South Africa’s Education for All commitment. The literacy campaign received a number of national awards and, in 2016, received the UNESCO Confucius Award.

Professor McKay has worked across the lifelong learning continuum – from pre-school to post-schooling and has focused specifically on education at the margins. Over the past few years, she coordinated the Department of Basic Education’s national workbook project, where she played a key role in conceptualizing and writing school workbooks for learners from Grade R to Grade 9. The materials provided a lesson a day and are intended to improve learning outcomes in schools. Some 250 million books have been distributed to date.

Professor McKay is a member of the South African Commission for UNESCO, Education Sector, and has served as an Honorary Advisor to the Commonwealth of Learning.

Ekkehard NUISSL

Professor Ekkehard Nuissl currently holds posts at the University of Kaiserslautern (Germany) and at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń (Poland). He also holds honorary professorships at the University of Florence (Italy) and the West University of Timisoara (Romania).

Between 1974 and 2011 Professor Nuissl served as director of the Heidelberg Institute for pedagogical research, the Hamburg Volkshochschule (Folk High School) and the German Institute for Adult Education (DIE-Bonn).

He taught adult education at several universities in Germany and abroad. He represented Germany in international contexts, such as in the European Union, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UNESCO,, and was elected to serve on several boards. He is currently a board member of the International Adult Continuing Education Hall of Fame.                                                 

As an author of many publications in the field of adult education, Professor Nuissl has had his work translated and published in numerous languages such as Polish, English, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Romanian, Japanese, French and Swedish.

Katarina POPOVIC

Katarina Popović is Associate Professor at the Department for Andragogy, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade, Secretary General of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), visiting professor for adult education and lifelong learning at several European universities, and president of the Serbian Adult Education Society. She is a member of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame, and a number of European and international organizations (ESREA, ISCAE), and is editor in chief of the journal Andragogical Studies. Professor Popovic is also a member of numerous editorial or advisory boards, including ELM (European Lifelong Learning Magazine), EJRALE (European Journal for Research on Education and Learning of Adults), DIE Zeitschrift für Weiterbildungsforschung – Report, as well as author of numerous publications, articles and books which have influenced national and international academic development in the field of adult education.

She is certified trainer in adult education with rich experience worldwide. For many years, she was vice-president of the European Association for the Education of Adults and coordinator of German DVV international in Serbia and south-east Europe. In the latter capacity she participated in and coordinated numerous projects in the field of adult education, lifelong learning and vocational training, as policy adviser, evaluator, curriculum developer and trainer.

As Secretary General of ICAE she works mainly on the policy level, and as support to the implementation of key global agendas (Education For All, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development), bringing global goals and commitments to the local practices and implementation.


Professor Dr S.Y. Shah is currently the Director of the International Institute of Adult and Lifelong Education in New Delhi, Vice President of the Indian Adult Education Association and Executive President of the Reading Association of India.

From 1997 to 2007, he was Director of Adult Continuing Education at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi (India) and until 2014, University Professor. He was Joint Advisor of the Planning Commission and Senior Fellow at the National Institute of Adult Education. Professor Shah has taught and led research at various institutions, including the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Julius Maximilian University in Würzburg and Duisburg Essen University (both in Germany. He has served as Erasmus Mundus Visiting Scholar at Aarhus University (Denmark); Development Fellow of the Association of Commonwealth Universities at Warwick University (UK); Kellogg Visiting Scholar at Syracuse University (USA); and Senior Social Science Fellow of the Shastra Indo Canadian Institute at Toronto University (Canada).

He has been actively associated with the programmes of several governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the National Literacy Mission, the Planning Commission, the University Grants Commission (all in India), the Rotary Club, World Literacy Canada, the ASEM Network on Professionalization on Adult Education and the Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network (ALADIN) of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in Hamburg (Germany).

In view of his manifold contributions to the field of adult education, he was honoured with the Nehru Literacy Award in 2007 and inducted into the International Adult Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2015. He has over 70 publications to his credit.

Sylvia Irene SCHMELKES del VALLE

Ms Schmelkes is currently President of the Mexican National Institute for the Evaluation of Education.

She is a National Researcher, level III.,a sociologist educated at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and has been working in the field of educational research since 1970. She has published more than 150 books, articles and chapters on quality of education, values education, adult education and intercultural education.

She was a founding member and the General Coordinator of Intercultural and Bilingual Education in the Ministry of Education in Mexico from 2001 to 2007.

From 2002 to 2004, she chaired the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Center for Educational Research and Innovation’s Governing Board.

From 2007 to 2013, she headed the Institute for Research in the Development of Education of the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico.

In 2008, she was awarded the Comenius Medal from UNESCO and the Czech Republic for her career as a researcher.

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