Japan funds library training in Asia/Pacific under UNESCO's Information for All Programme
A project for empowering information professionals through distance learning will shortly be launched in Asia and the Pacific under UNESCO's Information for All Programme with a Japanese grant of US$43,000.
The project will foster the development of various methods to cater for the diverse training needs of information professionals in Asia Pacific. An expert meeting is being planned to start developing the content of a distance learning package taking account of earlier surveys in that area.
Activities to empower information professionals began as long back as in l994 when the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture provided a research grant for a three year regional joint study on infrastructure development in Asia and the Pacific with a view to support UNESCO's activities in this region.
Thanks to a Japanese fund-in-trust for UNESCO, a first expert meeting for developing a training package was organized in 2000 in Bali, Indonesia when the so-called "ICT for Library and Information Personnel (ICTLIP)" project started.
The focus was primarily on a face to face teaching situation, which at that timer was thought to be the appropriate approach in order to reach a larger, diversified audience. However, the rapid technological advancement necessitated that the project gradually development to respond to the emerging digital environment by using distance learning modules.
In 2005 the ICTLIP modules were evaluated and the report indicated that the training package was a success. The conclusion reached by the evaluators was that "the product, in its present form, is an excellent one provided it is regularly updated in keeping with ICT trends". Following experts' recommendations several areas for development were identified. A strategy for product development and new directions pointed to the move towards a distance learning package.
UNESCO's Information for All Programme (IFAP) is, among other issues, focusing on manpower development in information and communication and it is seen as an important aspect of capacity building in the Member States.
"We are happy that the partnership between Japan and IFAP in the area of human resource development is continuing" says UNESCO's Susanne Ornager. "We are now planning to prepare a further ‘e-readiness study in Asia Pacific", she adds explaining that the survey is about telecommunication infrastructure, access to computers and the Internet, the availability of training in ICT skills and the accessibility of electronic resources in libraries. A multimedia storyboard for one of the modules of ICTLIP has also been tested for further advancement into a distance learning package.