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8 August 2018

Myanmar Library Association and 4th Regional Workshop on School Libraries in Southeast Asia, 2018

By Myat Sann Nyein, Vice President-2, Myanmar Library Association

Myanmar Library Association (MLA) is helping the country to promote reading, improve access to and use of new technology and in the area of information and ICT literacy development.  MLA pools their resources and make efforts to keep pace with new technology development and adopt suitable technologies for the efficiency and effectiveness of library operations and services, by collaborating with local and international organizations.
 
MLA believes there is an urgent need, throughout the country to transform school libraries into environments conducive for learning. Hence, it embarks on this pilot project to energize school libraries.
   
MLA provided the following support to the ten selected schools.
(a) Equips teacher librarians with basic skills of library management, such as cataloguing their library collection, keeping borrowing records, etc.  It also provides training on information searching, skills of evaluating information, as well as training on using technology and the Internet to gain knowledge.
 
(b) Develops the library collections in print, electronic and other formats to meet the teaching and learning objectives of the school curriculum, with emphasis on supporting reading instruction, teaching, and learning.
 
(c) Aligns the collection with curriculum, with emphasis on titles to support reading instruction and classroom collections.
 
(d) Expands the library’s educational programme which includes orientation sessions for new students and teachers, library tours, book talks, book reviews, group discussion, best library use award, lectures, literary talks, etc. 
 
(e) Improves the library’s physical environment for study and learning, including keeping equipment updated and furniture upgraded. Increases small group study space where possible.
 
(f) Produces a library manual and handbook for the school library
 
(g) Equips the library with hardwares and softwares to integrate new technologies. MLA has been implementing these using the open source like KOHA.
 
(h) Builds and strengthens partnerships with local and regional libraries and associations.
 
In Southeast Asian countries, school libraries are at various stages of development. Some countries have well-established and properly managed school libraries while others provide very basic facilities and limited reading materials. The Regional Workshops on School Libraries have been held annually in order to explore, learn and discuss and share the best practices, knowledge and experiences in developing school libraries among ASEAN Countries since 2015.
 
 
School libraries play an important role in the process of reforming the new education system and help to improve teaching and raise academic excellence,. By attending the series of regional school library workshop since 2015 in the southeast Asian region, MLA had the opportunities to continually network with school librarians in ASEAN countries, to collaborate school library programs among ASEAN countries and to create and sustain a communication and networking platform for school librarians and LIS professionals.
 
Myanmar is very proud to host the 4th Regional workshop for school Libraries in Southeast Asia and Japan as pre-conference of the 17th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians and the workshop provides many benefits to the participants who were unable to travel to international conferences. This is the first time that we are able to host this regional workshop for school librarians around the region. MLA was able to connect and collaborate locally and internationally on professional development, and discussion on common issues in the region. 
 
The 4th Regional Workshop in School Libraries in Southeast Asia held in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on May 2, 2018 was well attended by over 180 participants from the Department of Basic Education, Ministry of Education, public and private school librarians around the country and Southeast Asian countries. 
 
The workshop was held to facilitate networking among school library stakeholders in the Southeast Asian countries. It provided great opportunities for participants to learn, discuss and share experiences in the development of school libraries. The workshop also served as a platform for communication among those involved with school librarianship – school librarians / teacher librarians, Ministry of Education, Universities with LIS Departments, National Libraries, Myanmar Library Association, publishers, and other interested community librarian groups. The workshop was organized by the Myanmar Library Association, National Library, Naypyitaw, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education, The International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) and other organizations and Local NGOs also contributed towards the event.
 
Union Minister for Education Dr. Myo Thein Gyi, Pyithu Hluttaw representative Daw Su Su Lwin, International Association of School Librarianship Prof. Dr. Diljit Singh, Director General of Department of Basic Education, high level from Ministry of Culture, the patron and executive members of the Myanmar Library Association and librarians from local and foreign countries were attended the ceremony,.
 
In his speech, Union Minister for Education Dr. Myo Thein Gyi applauded the tremendous efforts made to hold the workshop and find a solution on how to overcome the difficulties and challenges faced by the school librarians. This was the first time  a regional workshop was conducted in Myanmar. The Ministry of Education would be exploring how to create more opportunities for learning and to uplift the learning abilities of the students. It has been implementing the National Education Strategic Plan 2016-20, with the aim of establishing an accessible, equitable and effective national education system. It has laid down twelve priority tasks which can be able to implement nine sectors. Education plays a vital role to maintain peace and prosperity in the world we are living. The standard of education is correlated with the development of the libraries. We can foster our better future for our new generations by adopting more effective results.
 
At the ceremony, Patron of Myanmar Library Association U Tin Maung Lwin and International Association of School Librianship Prof. Dr. Diljit Singh gave the welcoming speech. This was followed by the performance of traditional dances and music by the students from B.E.M.S (3) and B.E.H.S (6), Pyinmana and Tatkone, Naypyitaw. After the opening ceremony, Union Minister for Education Dr. Myo Thein Gyi and all the attendees took commemorative group photos together.
 
At the workshop, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Canada presented their country reports and shared their best practices. The parallel discussion sessions was led by Professor Dr. Diljit and MLA EC members with three topics; “connect and collaborate”, “Reenergizing school libraries” and “Planning library period and its activities.” There were interactive participation of the teacher librarians and raised the common issues facing in the region such as to-be-assigned teacher-librarian; proactive Principal, budget, library period, library building, etc.
 
Daw Tin Phone Nwe, a member of Myanmar Librarian made a closing remark and concluded the ceremony. A cultural evening was held on the day with dances and music performed by the Ministry of Culture to enable the participants to interact in a casual and relaxed manner.
 
As one of the MLA EC members, I am very pleased with the outcome of the workshop that is beneficial to people from the department of basic education, administrative level and teachers. This is specifically in achievements or changes in knowledge, attitude, behavior, condition to our target participants who are currently involved in transforming school libraries in the region. The quality of students’ learning outcomes is greatly enhanced by effective school libraries. School libraries promote lifelong learning through information literacy instruction that is integrated with classroom content. It also promotes critical thinking, creativity, engagement with information in all of its forms and the use of technology to enhance learning. In order to enable high-performance teaching and academic excellence, school libraries play an important role in the process of reforming the new education system. 
 
Looking back, the first regional workshop was held at Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok,Thailand in June 2015, the second was held at Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia in May 2016. The third workshop focused on school library developments in the Region held in Kualua Lumpur, Malaysia.
 
The next workshop on School Libraries in Southeast Asia will be held in Manila, Philippine, 2019. MLA is looking forward to sharing the good and bad experiences at the upcoming workshop.

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