Recent comments

  • Reply to: Adult educator: advocate for the right for access to education, women’s literacy and decolonisation   2 days 4 hours ago

    I joined Glasgow University’s DACE in 1991, at the start of Lalage’s last year as Head. I was appointed primarily to extend the Access programme to science and engineering subjects; also to develop and deliver courses in Astronomy and other sciences in what had become, under Lalage’s leadership, the broadest programme of continuing education among the UK universities. I had worked previously as a researcher in Physics and Astronomy and this was quite a culture change for me – probably much more than I realised at the time. I appreciated her kind concern for new members of staff, for our induction and development, and I was struck by her great enthusiasm for and interest in all the very varied sorts of work that came under the DACE roof.

    I’m also struck now, thinking back, by comments she made that have stayed with me, single sentences even that went to the heart of the matter being discussed in a particularly penetrating way. From comments like these I gained a strong sense of the value of adult education, particularly mature student Access. Meeting her in subsequent years you found this acuity undimmed, even into her 90s. 

    I’ll always be grateful to Lalage for my admission to the world of adult education. I’m sorry she’s left us but her memory will be a lasting inspiration.

  • Reply to: Adult educator: advocate for the right for access to education, women’s literacy and decolonisation   5 days 2 hours ago

    Lalage was one of the warmest and most generous people I have met, and possessed a formidable mind and astuteness about people which I will never forget. She always seemed lit from within to me. I met Lalage in her role as a patron of the Centenary Commission for Adult Education, for which I was a commissioner, which I know John Holford has written about. But I had the great honour in July 2019, at the end of the last face to face SCUTREA conference, of interviewing her, very informally, while she waited in my office for a taxi to take her back to the station. I have the recording and the transcript of the interview. It was a remarkable moment as, as it was so informal and off the cuff, Lalage talked about her time at Oxford and her memories of being there with Tony Benn, Shirley Williams and Margaret Thatcher, who she was quite unimpressed by. She was very funny and almost mischievous. She was also wonderful on learning to be an adult educator just after the war and the importance of the United Nations. I had the very highest regard for Lalage and, without wishing to be clichéd, she was a genuine inspiration to me and a touchstone for adult education as a pedagogy.  


  • Reply to: Adult educator: advocate for the right for access to education, women’s literacy and decolonisation   5 days 8 hours ago

    What I love about African culture is the knowledge that people do not disappear when they die. They enter into the larger kingdom of ancestors with whom we may continue to communicate, seeking advice and just sharing stories.  Lalage as a daughter of Africa remains with us even now sitting in a conversational circle with Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Thomas Hodgkin, Nita Barrow and others.  

    I first learned about Lalage in 1970 when I was a Doctoral student of African educational systems looking for a place to do my PhD research. She was the Director of Extra-mural Studies at the University of Zambia at the time and through the mail offered me a position there to do my work. In the end, I was offered a position at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania at the Institute of Adult Education. I met Lalage in person in 1971 in Dar es Salaam as we hosted the meeting of the African Association for Adult Education.  Lalage was the Secretary of the AAEA while I was the local organizer on behalf of the Institute of Adult Education.  This was the first international conference that I had ever helped to organize. Lalage flew into Dar es Salaam 4-5 days before the conference. She set up with a typewriter at the University and took my disorganized and messy conference notes and turned them into a very professional looking programme.  She had a remarkable talent for taking fragments of ideas, diverse activities and seemingly divergent perspectives and weaving them into an articulate, coherent and professional paper or policy or report.  She was an institution builder. Her greatest gift in my opinion lay in her ability to gain support at the highest levels of government or academia for the field of adult education. She was a consummate professional. She took the task of academic leadership to the highest level. She was a passionate advocate for the power of adult education. She had remarkable confidence in bringing the need for adult education to Vice-Chancellors, to Ministers of Education and to heads of state.  She often spoke of the responsibility to ‘educate the politicians, an activity that she undertook with enthusiasm. 

    I recall at the 1971 meeting that several of the younger generation of African adult educators just getting started in university life thought that by 1971, it might be time for an African to hold the position of Secretary of the AAAE. There was a feeling that there had not been very much reported over the year or two proceeding the gathering in Dar es Salaam. Surely time for a transition? There was some anticipation by the younger folks that the conference upon hearing the report from the Secretary might feel it was time for a change. When the Chair called upon Lalage to deliver her report, the room was filled with an astounding record of activities, accomplishments, challenges and plans. She had delivered a five-star report. When the vote came for Secretary, she was voted in unanimously! She may have white skin, but she was an African and a brilliantly accomplished one at that.

    After 1980 when she returned for good to the UK and took up her position at Glasgow, I had less contact with her. She was an active player in the building of the International Council for Adult Education where I was working after leaving Tanzania. She edited the journal Convergence for us following in the footsteps of Edward Hutchinson. 

    During the past 15 years my partner Darlene Clover and I were fortunate to have been able to visit with Lalage on numerous occasions at her home in Shrewsbury. We stayed in a guest room which a collection of perhaps 500 books on the shelf above the bed.  We could have stayed there forever! Shrewsbury was the place where she had been raised after her father returned from his days with the Indian Army in Burma. He had been awarded an estate with a manor house and a farm just outside the town itself. Lalage shared her encyclopedic knowledge of the area with us each time we visited. She was a woman of the land. She was as engaged in Shrewsbury and its organizations in her late 80s and early 90s as she had been in the many African communities where she had worked.

    The Ancestral Kingdom will be energized, stimulated and entertained by this newer addition. And the rest of us will continue to call on Lalage for stories and advice.

    Lalage Bown Oyay Oyay Oyay

    Budd Hall, Victoria, January 11, 2022

  • Reply to: Adult educator: advocate for the right for access to education, women’s literacy and decolonisation   6 days 3 hours ago

    I am deeply saddened to hear this news. The sadness of the news is only mitigated by the introduction of Prof. Thaddeus Ulzen, whose father I also knew so well and respected for his work. Thank you for sharing.

    Lalage was such a towering figure in the adult education movement in Africa. I remember when I went to apply for the job that she had just left at the Centre for Continuing Education, then the Institute for Adult Studies at Makerere, I was told that the job was not suitable for a woman. I looked at Bernard Oyango, the then Registrar and said "but a woman just had this job" . He replied that she was different. Having completed my doctoral research on how empowered women are described in this society, I finally understood what he meant. In this society the highest form of empowerment that describes a woman is that of a woman who is a man, Omuhasi musacha, a women who does anything a man does without thinking twice about it. She was the true embodiment of empowerment. It was an honour to have walked a little part of this journey in her shadow.  May Her Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.    

    Thelma Awori


  • Reply to: Adult educator: advocate for the right for access to education, women’s literacy and decolonisation   6 days 3 hours ago

    I still remember vividly, Lalage (Auntie Lala's) generosity and support when we left Ghana for Zambia, after the life-altering coup d'etat. She had hired our dad as a Senior lecturer in Extra-Mural Studies at UNZA. On our arrival in Lusaka, we found she had set up our new home in Olympia Park to the finest detail, including a well-stocked fridge. On a more personal note, she bought me a powerful telescope for my 13th birthday, which in no small way spurred on my budding interest in science.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    She was a true giant of Africa, and her work lives on through her learners and her many children on the continent.

    May her soul rest in peace.


    Thad Ulzen MD FRCP(C) DFAPA

    Program Director, EAUMF

    Editor's Note: Thaddeus, a distinguished psychiatrist and educational leader in the US, was born in Ghana and is the son of the late Edward Ulzen. Edward was a pioneer in African Adult Education. He succeeded Lalage as the head of the African Association for Adult Education, the first full time Secretary General.