Abdul Waheed khan


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Dr Abdul Waheed KHAN, who currently occupies the post of Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, was born in a remote village in Uttar Pradesh, India. His journey from this Indian village to a high-level position in UNESCO is the exciting story of a self-made man, a high achiever, a visionary, an innovator, and a dynamic leader. Dr Khan is an institution builder, an efficient manager, a skillful diplomat, a development practitioner, and an accomplished scholar. Moreover, he is a true global citizen with strong commitment to improving the lives of marginalized groups and communities.

As Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Abdul Waheed Khan has led UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector since the last 6 years. In this capacity, he is responsible for driving UNESCO’s programmes and activities aimed at empowering people through the free flow of ideas by word and image, and by access to information and knowledge.

Dr Khan’s responsibilities include advancing global standard setting, establishing international, regional and national policies, and coordinating the implementation of concrete projects for harnessing the power of communication and information for development. He provides global leadership in fostering digital opportunities for social
and economic inclusion, building alliances between public and private sector initiatives in communication and information and mobilizing resources for enhancing the scope of the programmes of the Communication and Information Sector. He represents UNESCO at major international events and fora in the field of information and communication, such as the Strategic Council for the Global Alliance for ICT for Development (GAID), its predecessor, the UN ICT Task Force, and the United Nations
Group on the Information Society (UNGIS), and coordinated UNESCO’s contribution to the World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005).


With extensive international experience in designing, planning and managing communication and information technology applications in education, sciences, culture, agriculture and rural development, Dr Khan has worked for several international organizations including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank, the Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) and the Asian Productivity Organization (APO).


From 1998 to 2000, Dr Khan served as President and Chief Executive Officer (Vice- Chancellor) of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), one of the largest universities in the world with an enrollment exceeding 1, 5 million students. At IGNOU, he was responsible for strategic planning, resource mobilization and management of a knowledge network, comprising a consortium of 72 universities. He was also Chairman of the Distance Education Council of India, which is responsible for coordinating all open and distance learning programmes in India.


Prior to joining IGNOU, Dr Khan worked at Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, firstly as Senior Programme Officer (1992-1995), then as Acting Head of the Communications and Information Technologies Division (1995- 1996), as Principal Communications Specialist (1996-1998) and as Director of Training and Development (2000-2001).


From 1986 to 1992, Dr Khan served as the Founding Director and Professor of the Communications Division of IGNOU in New Delhi, where he developed and managed one of the largest state of the art electronic media centres in Asia. He also served as a Visiting Professor/Scientist (1990 1991) at the National Institute of Multimedia Education (NIME) in Chiba, Japan.


Currently a member of several Board of Directors, including that of Wawasan Open University (Malaysia), and Digital Opportunities Trust (DOT) (Canada), Dr Khan has actively contributed to the boards of various national and international bodies including the ISS INFOTECH Ltd, India, IDS International (Thailand), WETV Foundation (Canada) and the United States Educational Foundation (USEFI) (India). He has served as Chairperson of the Distance Education Council of India, as Vice President of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and as President of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). He is a member of numerous professional associations including the International Institute of Communications of the United Kingdom (IIC).


Dr Khan is the recipient of several awards and distinctions such as the 2006 “Dayawati Modi Award for Art, Culture and Education”, a Honorary Doctorate of Hamdard University, New Delhi, India (2005), the "India 2000 Millennium Award for Education and World Peace", the 2000 “Super Brain of India Gold Award”, the 1998 “Distinguished Service Award” of the Commonwealth of Learning, and the 1998 “Rajiv Gandhi National Integration Award”.


Dr Khan is the author of a number of books and articles published in various academic journals, especially on development communication, distance education and multimedia technology applications.


Born in 1947 of Indian nationality, Abdul Waheed Khan holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication (1973) and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Journalism (1970) from University of Wisconsin, Madison (USA), and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Extension (1965) from Agra University (India).