Dr Abdul Waheed Khan, former Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has received an honorary doctorate by the UK Open University at its convocation.
Dr Khan, who is President of Talal Abu Ghazaleh University of Business, has been a global champion in using open and distance education, combined with the power of communications technologies, to narrow the gap between rich and poor nations.
For nearly ten years he led the communication and information sector at UNESCO, where he was responsible for developing the communication of and access to knowledge, using the media and information and communication technologies. The various projects he has led have drawn on power of today’s information society to foster socially responsible economic growth in developing nations. And perhaps just as importantly, in his UNESCO role he has provided global leadership in the promotion of freedom of expression and press freedom, media independence and pluralism.
It’s likely that his birth in a remote village in India gave him an early appreciation of the importance of communications technology in bridging distance, especially in rural areas. When in his twenties and newly graduated, he developed a Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Communication, which was based at India’s top agricultural university, GB Pant, and was recognized for its work by UNESCO and the United Nations Development Program.
Then as director of programs for India’s premier communicator, All India Radio, he launched the on-air Farm School, which made it possible for farmers in remote areas to learn how to improve their agricultural techniques.