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Radiation Protection and Safety Education in the Spotlight: 100th IAEA's Postgraduate Course Concludes

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PGEC students during a practical field exercise on radiation protection in Malaysia. (Photo: IAEA)

The IAEA has assisted more than 120 countries in building competence in radiation protection through its postgraduate courses on radiation protection and radiation source safety, the 100th of which recently concluded in Malaysia.

The six-month Postgraduate Educational Course in Radiation Protection and the Safety of Radiation Sources (PGEC) is a central part of the IAEA’s work to support national authorities in developing technical knowledge and practical skills in radiation safety. Almost all countries use radioactive sources in health care, industry and research – and their safe handling is key both during their useful life and once they are no longer in use but still emit radiation.

PGECs target young professionals and university graduates in physics, chemistry, life sciences and engineering with experience of radiation protection and the safe use of radiation sources. Participants are expected to have careers that include positions as senior managers, experts and/or trainers.

More than 1,800 students have completed the course so far. Over two-thirds of participants report that the course had a positive impact on their professional development, said Andrea Luciani, Radiation Safety Training Specialist at the IAEA.

“PGEC allowed me to get further knowledge on radiation protection to develop my profession and then to contribute to a better regulatory authority,” said Nelida Serdeiro, a student of the 1998 PGEC class, who works at the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Argentina.

Building skills through diversity

The 100th course, which ended on 19 October 2019, featured laboratory exercises, research projects, lectures and scientific visits as well as sessions on how to train others on the topic.  Organized by the Malaysian Nuclear Agency in cooperation with the IAEA, it attracted 35 participants from Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao P.D.R, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

 “I really enjoyed the diversity of the group - we have so much to learn from one another. Unlike other courses, PGEC is also about sharing experiences with people from similar fields of expertise within the scientific community,” said participant Syarul Iman from the Malaysian Ministry of Health.

IAEA Radiation Safety Specialist Amparo Cristobal took part in the course closing ceremony.

“I was happy to see that all students were satisfied with the course and committed to apply what they had learnt in practice,” she said. “Like earlier PGEC graduates, they will help build solid global expertise in radiation protection and radiation source safety.”

Malaysia, home to a PGEC regional training centre, has hosted both national and regional courses for the past 15 years.

The IAEA technical cooperation programme supports PGECs. In 2018, PGECs are held in Argentina, Ghana, Greece, Malaysia and Morocco.

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