Through ANENT, members could pool expertise and share facilities, some of which may be beyond the affordable reach of some countries. Basic facilities required for education and training of the nuclear workforce such as research reactors and accelerators require large resources to operate and maintain. ANENT enables institutions without these basic facilities to have access to other institutions for the purpose of education, training and research.
The establishment of basic requirements for reference curricula could contribute towards maintaining the professional standards of nuclear engineers and technicians. It would enhance the mobility of the nuclear workforce as well as widen their career opportunities. Such prospects could draw the young and talented to take up courses in nuclear science, technology and engineering thus overcoming, to a certain extent, the problem of the ageing nuclear workforce.
A pragmatic and stepwise approach will be adopted in implementing ANENT activities. At the 1st Coordination Committee meeting, five activities were identified for implementation during the first phase beginning in 2004 and ending with the full operation of ANENT at the beginning of 2006. For each activity, an Action Plan was agreed upon and is being implemented, each being led by one lead institution. The activities are:
The first activity that will be implemented involves taking stock of resources and materials for education and training in nuclear technology in the Asian region. Information and material are to be collated and placed on the ANENT web portal, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2004. The web portal will - as a key enabling technology - play a central role for networking among ANENT members. Member institutions could then use this information to identify education and training institutions suitable for placement of their staff. At the same time, a working mechanism will be established to support the exchange of students, teachers and researchers, with member institutions encouraged to implement exchange through bilateral cooperation as a starting point for multilateral networking.
The exchange of students and teachers would be greatly facilitated with the mutual recognition of degrees and transfer of credits. Towards this end, ANENT member institutions will exchange and evaluate existing curricula and establish recommended requirements for reference curricula in nuclear science, technology and engineering.
Distance learning would be one of the main approaches used by ANENT to teach and train students from diverse locations. Education and training materials already available will be compiled and distributed on the ANENT website. ANENT will utilize already available material - for example, that produced by the IAEA and other regional networks and associations - and will only consider developing new materials where none exist.
ANENT will seek to learn from experiences of other networks already in operation such as the European Nuclear Education Network (ENEN) and, where appropriate, collaborate with them. ANENT will serve as a facilitator to link its member institutions with other regional and global networks. At the 1st Coordination Committee meeting, representatives of ENEN, the World Nuclear University, the Asian Regional Cooperative Council for Nuclear Medicine and the Asian School of Nuclear Medicine were invited to share with ANENT members their experiences in nuclear education and training.