Mushtaq Ahmed Azmi

1 Jun 1919
12 Jul 2011
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Mushtaq Ahmed Azmi (1 June 1919 – 12 July 2011), was a mass literacy expert. He was one of the first non-officials to be associated with the development of Adult Education program in India as far back as the early 1950s. For this reason, he is considered a pioneer in the mass literacy movement. As an officer of UNESCO, he was posted in Africa and seconded to spearhead mass literacy programs in Nigeria and Zambia. He was offered a position in the UNESCO by the British diplomat and head of fundamental education at UNESCO John Bowers.

During a career spanning six decades, he conducted a number of studies and authored many books, as well as technical documents, which are used by experts and activists in the field of Adult Education.

Careful with details and thorough with methodology, he was instrumental in developing control, monitoring and evaluation systems for national literacy programs such as Total Literacy Campaigns (TLC) and Post Literacy Programs (PLP). He was a powerful advocate of “life long learning.”

Mushtaq Ahmed’s early education was in Burma. After separation of Burma from India in 1935 he came to India and enrolled at Jubilee College in Lucknow. He completed graduate programme from Aligarh Muslim University and finally Masters in Communication Arts from the Michigan State University in 1964. He was on a UNESCO fellowship program in 1954

Mushtaq Ahmed was honoured with many awards and accolades throughout his life. He was a recipient of the Nehru Literacy Award in 1984 conferred by the Indian Adult Education Association IAEA given for outstanding contribution for adult literacy. Thirteen years later the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, Government of India conferred National Award for Literacy, in 1997, in recognition of his outstanding lifetime services to the cause of promoting mass literacy in India.

Mushtaq Ahmed was born on 1 July 1919, in the village of Rajapur Sikror, District Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh. He was initially employed with the Railways and Bridges Department in the United Provinces of Colonial India. Dr Zakir Hussain, an educationist who later became India’s third President, exhorted the educated youth to leave Colonial service and join nationalist institutions like the Jamia Millia Islamia. Mushtaq Ahmed resigned. He became the Secretary of the Adult Education Department of Jamia Millia.

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