SEAMEO -- Netherlands Programme of Cooperation


Admitted as a SEAMEO Associate Member Country in 1993, the Netherlands assistance to SEAMEO dates back to the 1960's. Since then, programme names, objectives and strategies have changed, but the goal of assisting Southeast Asia in development through education has not.

Development can only be structural or sustainable if people in the countries concerned, are involved. This is a cornerstone of the Netherlands policy to alleviate poverty in developing countries.

Description of Forms of Assistance
Netherlands Literature Programme

In 1967, the Royal Netherlands Government's early role in SEAMEO manifested itself in the Netherlands Literature Programme. The Programme was designed to contribute to the furthering of the social and economic advancements of developing countries in various ways within the framework of technical development cooperation with these countries. Under the Programme, the Netherlands made literature available to universities and other establishments of higher education and study centres, scientific institutions, government departments and services, public and local authorities and regional organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

SEAMEO Educational Development Fund

The Netherlands Government has contributed to SEAMEO towards the SEAMEO Educational Development Fund (SEAMEO EDF) since fiscal year (F.Y.) 1970/71. Beginning with a five year period of direct contributions from the Netherlands (F.Y. 1970-71 to F.Y. 1974/75), contributions were made towards the SEAMEO EDF tied to scholarship requirements at BIOTROP, RECSAM, SEARCA and TROPMED. During this period, only short-term training courses were entitled to receive the funding support.

Netherlands Programme for Studies in the Region

From F.Y. 1975/76 up to F.Y. 1986/87 the contributions were made under the Netherlands Programme for Studies in the Region (SIR) which was previously called "Fellowships in the Region Programme". Throughout this period, contributions were made to support short-term training courses at SEAMEO Regional Centres/Project, namely BIOTROP, INNOTECH, RECSAM, SEARCA and TROPMED. To qualify for support, preference was given to training courses relevant to human resource development which would lead to social and economic development in the region.

Direct Support to Training Institutions in Developing Countries

The Direct Support to Training Institutions in Developing Countries' (DSO) programme is the most recent of the programmes, beginning F.Y. 1987/88 and ending in 1994. This programme was meant to strengthen educational and training institutions in developing countries from the level of intermediate vocational education to that of post-graduate courses. Again, preference was given to support courses which were relevant to human resource development which would lead to social and economic development in the region.

The Netherlands Government realized that the role of education in the development process could not be ignored. In the 1980's the general quality of education dropped because of a lack of financial resources, which was due to economic difficulties. The objective of this cooperation was to use higher education and training as a tool for sustainable development.

For the Netherlands, development in the 1990's comprised three elements: first, investment in people, particularly in the poorest sections of the population, in order to improve their productive capacities; second, an improvement in provision for basic needs; third, more scope for participation in decision-making processes.

The Netherlands Government realized that a feminization of poverty had been observed over the last few decades. Education has done little to change the inequalities between the sexes. Therefore, it was essential that all project or programme proposals financed by the Netherlands Government indicated how women would participate and how inequalities between the sexes would be diminished.

It was also essential that sustainable development in the 1990's be seen in the light of the environmental crisis. Although wide regional variations exist, the carrying capacity of the environment is overstretched in many countries. Development projects or programmes were systematically examined by the Netherlands Minister for Development Cooperation to assess their environmental impact.

Objectives of the DSO Programme

The three main objectives of the programme were:

To contribute to the expansion, improvement and strengthening of educational and training institutions in developing countries (institution-building). This objective required broad and direct support to training and educational institutions in developing countries over a number of years, with the aim of providing them with a sustainable, relevant and autonomous institutional capacity for education and training. Only the developing countries' own training potential was used for this purpose. The role of the programme was restricted to providing financial means to educational and training institutions in developing countries in order to promote and facilitate this process.

To contribute to the development of skilled manpower by increasing and improving training opportunities in developing countries. In order to overcome quantitative and qualitative shortages of qualified personnel, training opportunities were to be provided for the institution's staff members.

To promote south -- south cooperation in education and training (technical cooperation between developing countries). This entailed cooperation between educational and training institutions in two or more developing countries (institution-building).

The Netherlands Government made funds available to sponsor the following means and strategies to attain the above-mentioned objectives.

In the context of institution-building:

development of curricula and education-linked research;
financing of the production and distribution of handbooks and training manuals;
purchase of support material for educational purposes
employment by the implementing institution of teaching staff from the Netherlands Programme, Region and Sector countries for its regional training;
staff exchange
Current Involvement

The Netherlands maintains its Associate Membership with SEAMEO, but is not currently involved in any programmes.