75 years  

Education for Developing Countries 1973-1985

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Dr Philip Coombs :  Visiting Lecturer 1983 - 1986 

Philip recalls the arrangements already made for him on his arrival in London and the support and friendliness of fellow staff.

"The day that I arrived in London in early November 1983 with the happy prospect of spending eight  months with the EDC, I learned to my surprise and further delight that Peter Williams had already made several arrangements:   (1) an invitation from the Director of the Institute to a party for visiting academics; (2) a lunch with some visitors from Thailand; (3) the University of London Congregation when Princess Anne, as Chancellor, would award  honorary degrees;  (4) a meeting I would be expected to address  at the Council for Education in the Commonwealth at the House of Commons on a topic of my choice; and (5) a meeting of "The Association  of Teachers of Overseas Education"  that it was Birmingham University's turn to conduct.

All this unexpected news temporarily took the wind out of my sails, until I realised that I was witnessing a unique phenomenon of very close relations among all these organizations on Peter's list and undoubtedly many others who were mutually congenial and helpful partners that were originally an out-growth of the early worldwide British system of colonies, but since World War II had become  independent  members of a well functioning (British) Commonwealth. I finally realised that the EDC was a centrally important institution with links  to  many other components of today's British  Commonwealth system that has no real equivalent in the U.S. or other countries.

Many staff members went out of their way  to be  friendly and  hospitable.  Hugh Hawes in a  hands-across-the-sea gesture took me to  the Mayflower Pub. John Lauglo gave us letters of introduction to Professors in  Trondheim and Tromso when we went on a Norwegian mail boat trip. When it comes to hospitality, in a class by themselves were Peter Williams, Trevor Coombe, Bill Dodd.  I was able to profit by the many interesting discussions I had with  other faculty members  such as Kevin Lillis, Paul Hurst, and Jeremy Greenland  and later in my stay with Angela Little. Rajee Rajagopalan qualified for sainthood by solving so many difficult travel and other complicated problems for everyone at the EDC .

In addition I worked with Peter Williams and Trevor Coombe  to  design and test portions of a new advanced technical education program for the EDC. EDC made it possible to accept several invitations from universities to conduct discussions or deliver a lecture. Among the universities I visited were Reading, Newcastle, Birmingham, and last but not least, Cardiff, where I saw our first rugby game accompanied by our cultural tutor, Andy Taylor. I am indebted to EDC and its cooperating agencies for all the creative things they taught me and I would like to express our best wishes for the continued success of this unique and lively cooperative system."

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Compiled and edited by Clare Bentall and Angela Little. First issued Spring 2005.