Lao PDR develops new library to support educational planning

19 April 2016

Having access to a library or resource centre is a key component for any ministry of education looking to improve its educational planning practices. Planners need to be able to easily access pertinent information and the latest research in education. The availability of best practices in planning and management from other parts of the world can also inspire countries in the development of their own education sector plans.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is the latest country to receive support from IIEP-UNESCO in creating a specialized library. In cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) andwith support from UNICEF, IIEP is working to design and build a library at the Institute for Education Administration Development (IFEAD).

“The new library will be a one-stop entry point to relevant information about educational planning in Lao PDR,” said Head of the IIEP library Asuncion Valderrama. “It will also be available at a distance, with documents available online, so no matter one’s location, they will be able to access important resources in educational planning.”

As part of the programme, a core group of education professionals from IFEAD and the MoES were trained in modern library management techniques in Vientiane from 4-8 April 2016. The workshop was led by Asuncion Valderrama and the Systems’ Librarian, Corinne Bitoun.

The objectives of the training workshop included:

  • Developing core professional skills on library and information science and management,
  • Developing skills on information retrieval,
  • Discovering tools to collect and organize information resources.

The creation of a resource centre within the IFEAD will not only broaden access to crucial education documents and resources, but will help protect the institutional memory of the country’s education system. “This is key to safeguarding institutional memory and providing access to knowledge that would otherwise remain scattered and unused,” said Corinne Bitoun. The library can also improve transparency and accountability insofar as information can be directly fed into monitoring and evaluation reports.

It will preserve a variety of national documents, including legislative and policy papers, educational reports, programme and project evaluations and statistical reports. For documents that only exist in hard copy, a programme is underway to create digital versions.

To help achieve this, a partnership with the National University of Laos, the MoES, and the Lao National Commission for UNESCO was established and will lead to additional training in digitization. A delegation from IFEAD will also attend an additional training session at IIEP in Paris, France in May 2016 to further advance their library management skills.
IIEP’s work in developing specialized libraries – both physical and virtual – is rooted in the Institute’s own work in creating a specialized library in Paris, featuring a unique collection of resources on educational planning and management. With over 35,000 books, reports, and a range of national documents, the library has become a centre for knowledge management in the field. This centre has also inspired the development of other specialized libraries in countries including Rwanda, Cambodia, and Morocco.