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In Event: Quality and qualities in development education: Don Adams’ life-long contribution to theory and practice
I was privileged to work with Don Adams on a number of projects over the years. Those were formative experiences in my career because I learned so much from working with him. Two experiences stand out. In the late 1990s, Don was the team leader of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) assessment in the Laos Democratic Republic on which I was hired as a team member. It was a major effort, I was in Laos about three months; Don was there closer to six. The study was politically charged. A lot of ADB loan money hinged on the outcomes and recommendations of our study. We worked together closely in preparing our report and crafting our recommendations. I was impressed by Don’s wisdom in handling the politics of the situation while staying true to the evidence. I was struck by his thoughtful, respectful and diligent approach to field data collection. He combined graciousness in his work with rigor and a strong backbone. We went on to publish some of our work together in the International Journal of Educational Research (“Education and national development in Asia: Trends and issues,” 1998, 29 (7): 583-602). In the late 90’s, I was a member with Adams of an ADB-commissioned study investigating education issues and policies in Asia to guide its support for funding activities in the early years of the 21st century. As part of the study preparation, researchers from eight countries -- People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Viet Nam – were commissioned to prepare country case-studies that addressed priorities for educational development in their respective countries. The project yielded a series of reports to ADB that were later published as monographs. Adams authored the first volume of the series on his own: Education and National Development: Priorities, policies, and planning. Don and I co-authored volume five, The Quality of Education: Dimensions and Strategies (both 2002).
As a university professor I work with a lot of smart, capable, rigorous scholars. What I particularly valued in my work with Don was the humanity and care for others that he brought to his work. He was not just a partner on a project but we became friends, and I learned much from working with him. My work with Adams helped jump-start other projects that were influenced by his theoretical thinking and research integrity; see for example my 2012 edited book Higher Education in the Developing World and my 2014 conclusions, in my edited book with D C-L Chien, Higher Education in East and Southeast Asia: Expand Out, Expanding Up.