Building peace in the minds of men and women

Providing access to information, building a knowledge society in Myanmar

The UNESCO Office in Bangkok, UNESCO’s Project Office in Yangon and the Center for Electronic Governance at the UNU International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST) organized a week of Executive Training on Government Information Leadership, “Providing Access to Information, Building Knowledge Societies” in Yangon, Myanmar, from 4 to 8 November 2013.

The training took place under the patronage of the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of Myanmar, as a follow up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the WSIS+10 Review process, and in fulfillment of the mandate of the UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP) to assist Member States in the development and implementation of the national information policies.

The training was attended by directors, managers, engineers, educators and other information professionals representing 14 government, civil society and private sector institutions from Myanmar. It was delivered by two experienced lecturers from UNU – Elsa Estevez and Tomasz Janowski.

The aim of the training was to raise awareness and build human and institutional capacity in Myanmar for planning, implementing and sustaining information and communication technology (ICT) and electronic governance (EGOV) initiatives to pursue various high-value public policy goals, and eventually to build a foundation for a knowledge society in the country. To this end, the training offered a series of sessions covering a range of topics including EGOV policy and strategy, technology-business alignment, organizational change, information leadership, enterprise architecture, knowledge management, information sharing and interoperability, infrastructure and services, measurement and benchmarking, and knowledge society.

The training examined the position of Myanmar in international ICT and EGOV rankings, reviewed existing ICT-related policy initiatives including ICT Master Plan 2005 and 2015, and introduced the IFAP National Information Society Template to guide and support the further development of national information policy initiatives in the country.

The training also included brainstorming sessions where participants jointly defined priority projects and outlined the vision, benefits, challenges and actions required towards the development of a knowledge society in Myanmar.

According to Rosa M. Gonzalez, Adviser for Communication and Information at UNESCO’s Bangkok Office, the training was very useful in providing government information officers with an introduction to concepts, policies and mechanisms that can harness ICTs to foster access to information and good governance in Myanmar and ultimately contribute to building a knowledge society. “The training also demonstrated that Myanmar needs to adopt policies and set up structures that allow effective public information and knowledge management. This experience was a first step in the right direction and reflected the government's will to pursue reform in this field,” she said.

According to Tomasz Janowski, Head of the Center for Electronic Governance at UNU-IIST, “the training created a unique opportunity to engage a diverse group of stakeholders from government, civil society and industry from Myanmar in a discussion on how the country should utilize technology to pursue its own path to development. UNU is ready to work with UNESCO to jointly support Myanmar in planning and implementing the next steps.”

The event in Yangon was the second joint UNESCO-UNU executive training organized in 2013, and the eighth in a series of training events organized by the Center for Electronic Governance at UNU-IIST in Macao, Muscat, Braga, Brunei, Riyadh, Bishkek and Kampala.