The project “Capacity building programme on training in selected international economic issues: Distance learning techniques” ran from 2003 to 2007. The overall aim of the project was to strengthen training capacities in the areas of trade, investment and trade-related services.
UNCTAD’s Human Resource Development section’s approach aims at improving the use of the distance learning techniques in the framework of training adapted to beneficiary countries’ needs. The project was conceived and supported by the UNCTAD Distance Learning (DL) Strategy developed in 2002 and revised in 2004.
The distance learning activities have two objectives:
- To increase the efficiency of training and to expand its reach to a greater number of target countries concerned with specific trade and investment themes.
- To highlight the opportunities offered by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in training.
This strategy is based on a hybrid approach that combines distance learning with face-to-face workshops and seminars within the framework of capacity development projects. For the first time, DL methodology was applied to the two thematic courses “Multilateral Trade Negotiations (Commercial Diplomacy)” and “International Investment Agreements (IIA)”.
The project was very positively evaluated in 2004, and the evaluation stated that “(…) it is highly recommended to envisage a potential extension and enlargement of this distance learning project to other training themes, countries or regional organizations.
The project under evaluation is clearly innovative because:
- It has applied DL techniques in new ways that are relevant and adapted to particular needs of developing countries, and more specifically for the least developed countries, even if these techniques can be further enhanced or improved.
- It has proved the interests in applying DL within the training methodology of UNCTAD (standardized material of international quality, active participation of national counterparts, good preparation for the face-to-face seminars, results in terms of capacity building, etc.).
- It has been particularly efficient in reducing the cost of the training, when compared to similar DL projects put in place by other international organizations.
- Its transnational character as well as the regional context facilitates the sharing of knowledge within and between beneficiary countries. As such, it offers a model for exchanging experiences and building networks.
- It has allowed a better definition of the countries’ technological needs through specific identification of their requirements for DL.”
The project is funded by the Government of Belgium.