Twenty-six participants from the Caribbean attended the joint training workshop on the Information for All Programme (IFAP) and Memory of the World (MOW) for the Western Caribbean, which took place in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, from 21 to 22 November 2018.
The workshop was organized by UNESCO’s Cluster Office for the Caribbean in collaboration with the Sint Maarten National Commission for UNESCO. The main aim of the event was to strengthen the capacities of the participants in establishing IFAP and MOW National Committees, and to set short- and medium-term goals. Aruba, the Bahamas, Belize, Curacao, Guyana, Jamaica, and Sint Maarten were the territories represented at the workshop, which was the second in a two-part series of trainings aimed at strengthening IFAP and MOW Programmes in the Caribbean.
The workshop was opened by Wycliffe Smith, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of Sint Maarten. Minister Smith encouraged the participants “to make the most of the workshop, and to learn as much as possible from both our shared experiences as well as our differences in the quest to preserve our heritage”.
Valuable contributions were made via online platforms by key experts from UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division in Paris. Jaco Du Toit, responsible for the Information for All Programme, highlighted the role of the National IFAP Committees within the broader IFAP international structure. He also outlined key IFAP priority areas, such as information literacy and information preservation, which will be crucial in helping the participants determine which of the six IFAP priority areas were in line with their own national imperatives.
Similarly, the UNESCO Programme Specialist responsible for the Memory of the World Programme, Fackson Banda, helped to contextualize the work of MOW Committees in the preservation of documentary heritage. He highlighted examples of the work that has been achieved by MOW Committees in various regions around the globe.
Throughout the two-day workshop, important contributions were made by MOWLAC advisor and expert, Dr Elizabeth Watson, who shared a wealth of experience on both IFAP and MOW matters pertaining to how various national committees might further operationalize their efforts. She also provided concrete examples of how to prepare dossiers for the consideration by the MOWLAC Regional Register.
Participants appreciated the opportunity to participate in the workshop and thanked the UNESCO Cluster Office and St Maarten’s National Commission for supporting and organizing the workshop. For instance, Johan Scholing, a participant from Aruba, praised the workshop as an “eye opener”. “There is so much potential for the IFAP/MOW Programmes in Aruba and the Caribbean. This workshop has provided me with a big amount of information, and I cannot wait to get back home to start our IFAP and MOW Committees,” he said.
Isabel Viera and Erika Walker, from UNESCO’s Cluster Office for the Caribbean, guided the participants in the preparation of their own recommendations concerning the development of IFAP and MOW Programmes in the Caribbean, using the knowledge they had gained during the workshop. These recommendations will be paired with those from the similar workshop that was held in March 2018 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for representatives of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.
About Information for All
The Information for All Programme (IFAP) was established in 2001 to provide a platform for international cooperation in the area of access to information and knowledge for the participation of all in the knowledge societies. IFAP is a unique UNESCO intergovernmental programme that focuses on ensuring that all people have access to information they can use to improve their lives.
About Memory of the World
UNESCO launched the MoW Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia through the preservation of valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world. In so doing, the programme also ensures wider access to such heritage. The programme is thus intended to protect documentary heritage, and to help networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for the preservation of, and universal access to, such documentary heritage.