Key findings of first study on Cambodia’s status of continuing professional development (CPD) for LIS professionals

In January 2019, I initiated a study on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Opportunities Available to Library & Information Science (LIS) Professionals in Selected Asian Countries. The focus was on countries that had conducted limited research on the LIS sector, specifically on CPD for LIS professionals. The first study was conducted in the Republic of Maldives in 2020* and the second in Cambodia in 2021.

For the Cambodian study, 26 semi-structured interviews were conducted via Zoom during the peak of the pandemic with 14 training providers and 12 library employees drawn from national, academic, special, and school libraries. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in library development in the country were also included. As a large number of libraries in Cambodia are school libraries, special attention was given to training efforts of the Cambodian government and NGOs to upgrade school libraries to the standards of 21st century learning centres.

The study identified a few key barriers to CPD:

  • The sparseness of CPD opportunities in the country;
  • The inability to meet real training needs as training needs assessment studies have not been conducted so far;
  • The challenges associated with attending programmes in other provinces, such as travel, accommodation, and study leave;
  • Inability of training providers supporting teacher librarians to comply with the Ministry of Education guidelines for training due to resource constraints and the lack of a T & D policy; and
  • The glaring lack of resource personnel who could conduct CPD programmes. For example, the lack of a LIS education programme and the availability at present of just THREE professional librarians with a MLIS in the country.

A key potential area of improvement that needs urgent attention is the development of a strong LIS support system to support the CPD framework. In the first instance, this includes the establishment of a LIS education programme and the reactivation of the Cambodian Librarians Association which can act as a CPD advisor and primary LIS CPD provider in the country.

Despite the many gaps revealed in the study, it is encouraging to note that the government has made some investment to develop school libraries in recent years. One example is the five-year project between Kampuchea Action to Promote Education (KAPE), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) and The Asia Foundation (TAF).

As an initial step to address the significant CPD gaps in Cambodia, plans are underway to collaborate with the Cambodian Library Association and LIS professionals worldwide to present a series of webinars. The first of the webinars was presented recently.

The following publications offer detailed findings of the Cambodian study:

  • De Alwis Jayasuriya, G. and Majid, S. (2022). Capacity building through continuing professional development (CPD) in Cambodia: Perspectives of library employees and training providers: Paper presented at the XVIII CONSAL Conference, 29-30 November, 2022.
  • De Alwis Jayasuriya, G. and Majid, S. (2022). Continuing professional development in Cambodia: Perspectives of different stakeholders. IFLA Journal

* The findings of the initial CPD study on the Maldives is available in the Journal of Education in Library & Information Science (JELIS); IFLA Journal;  IKC conference 2021; UTP Blog; and ALA21 Virtual poster. The collaboration with Maldives to address gaps in CPD opportunities continued over 2021/22 through a series of webinars featuring LIS professionals from around the world. These were offered under the auspices of the National Library of Maldives.

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Gina de Alwis Jayasuriya presenting the research conducted in the Republic of Maldives

Contributed by Gina de Alwis Jayasuriya, Independent Researcher

Dr Gina de Alwis Jayasuriya is an Independent Researcher with over four decades of experience in academic and special libraries in Singapore and Sri Lanka. She is very passionate about promoting continuing professional development (CPD) and lifelong learning to library professionals and advocates upskilling and reskilling to stay relevant. She holds a PhD in Information Studies from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.