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68 Memorandum by Australian Delegation at Sydney Conference

68 Memorandum by Australian Delegation at Sydney Conference

Sydney, May 1950


Memorandum by Australian Delegation


The following paper relates to—

(1) draft agenda item ' short-term action ';

(2) draft agenda item 'Technical Assistance'.

2. The Consultative Committee has been asked to consider the creation of a Fund (Document No. CC/SY/1/7)1 which would be available to provide assistance to South and South-East Asian countries in the following forms:—

(a) technical assistance;

(b) emergency relief supplies;

(c) credits for urgent import requirements.

3. This paper deals with possible means of extending assistance to countries under the first of these headings, namely 'Technical Assistance'.

4. It is to be emphasized that technical assistance can conveniently be classified within the concept of short-term action, even though the main benefits to be derived from technical assistance are ultimately in relation to the long-term. In the shorter term probably some of the greatest benefits which can be immediately received by South-East Asia are from qualified advisers and technicians and instructors who can immediately in the fields of internal economic policies, health programmes, educational programmes, render a type of assistance which will prevent the present situation deteriorating pending the implementation of longer term programmes. For instance, immediate advice on certain aspects of banking, on aspects of public administration particularly in countries where there are new governments, and on health, for example in relation to the use of medical supplies which might be sent to the area in the use of which there is no local experience, could make an immediate contribution prior to the inauguration of any longer term technical assistance programmes.

5. Broadly speaking, technical assistance is divided into three parts—

(a) training of persons in the contributing countries;

(b) sending to countries, which ask for them, persons qualified to act as advisers, instructors or administrative officers;

(c) provision of supplies and equipment which, together with locally-supplied materials and labour, will enable indigenous training units to be set up, where required, in the fields of health, agriculture, administration, crafts and trades, and so on.

6. No hard and fast generalisation can be made about the kind of technical assistance which might be sought by the countries of South and South-East Asia considered as a whole. Needs, and especially priorities, will vary from country to country throughout the region. There are in South and South-East Asia, as in other regions, great differences in domestic organization, social customs and level of technical efficiency. There is, however, abundant evidence from surveys made by international organizations, and the requests made to these organizations and to governments, of the value to governments in this area of access to the techniques of improved efficiency in one or other of the following fields, each one of which could be broken down into its detailed component parts:

(a) public health and sanitation;

(b) public administration;

(c) statistical compilation;

(d) agricultural methods, soil fertility, marketing, and forestry;

(e) fisheries;

(f) financial, banking and other techniques for the mobilisation and investment of savings;

(g) education at all levels;

(h) industrial and scientific research and industrial techniques;

(i) transportation services and communications;

(j) mining and metallurgy.

7. It is a truism that a rapid increase in production and productivity in the region and the consequent improvement of living standards, which is the true objective of the development plans of each of the countries in the region, are held back by the slow rate at which some of the techniques are developed. All countries have experience of the diverse ways, both public and private, by which their own fund of technical knowledge can be supplemented from outside. In more recent years some experience has been gained of the possibilities of developing the interchange of technical knowledge through the combined efforts of Governments acting particularly through international organizations.

8. The United Nations and specialised agencies have so far concentrated technical assistance in three distinct fields—

(a) fellowships;

(b) expert advice;

(c) dissemination of technical information.

9. A number of fellowships have been given to trainees to study, in overseas countries, subjects such as Economic Planning, Combined Resources Development, Statistics, Finance, Trade, and Mineral Exploitation.

10. Advisers have also been provided on requests from governments. It is noticeable that the majority of requests up to the present time have been for experts to advise governments on particular administrative problems arising from economic planning, the establishment of statistical services and the like.

11. Plans for the dissemination of technical information under the United Nations scheme are not very far advanced. The main types of services offering are a 'clearing house' service which can handle specific enquiries for technical information and develop sources of information within countries and with governments, and the organization of seminars or meetings groups of experts to deal with specified problems.

12. Up to the present, countries in the region, with some exceptions, have not made extensive demands upon the United Nations for technical assistance. This situation may be changed under the proposed expanded technical assistance programme of the United Nations. Preliminary missions may be sent to help governments in formulating their requests. It remains to be seen, however, what share in the international programmes will be allotted to South and South-East Asia.

13. The Specialised Agencies have all offered technical assistance of one kind or another to their member governments. Some of the more common methods employed are as follows:—

Fellowships: Most of the agencies have their own fellowship programmes, though they differ in certain particulars.

Regional offices: WHO, ILO, FAO and UNESCO have regional offices in the Asian area. The main functions of such offices are to disseminate information, provide technical advice and organize local meetings of experts in a particular subject. All these functions are a form of technical assistance.

Pilot projects: These might be carried out with the agreement of and in cooperation with, particular governments. They provide experiments in a particular field, the results of which are intended to assist Member States in resolving particular scientific problems. The WHO is contemplating projects in Burma, Indo-China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Seminars:These are meetings attended by both specialists and students selected by the Governments of Member States. They discuss the various aspects of a subject such as 'rural education'. They can be most effective when held in an area where the problem is an urgent one.

Training and production centres:Centres are specially designed for the training of staff and the production and use of materials best suited to local needs.

Exchange of information: Specialised agencies provide facilities for the exchange of information of a technical nature. Services may also be performed by action through the press, radio, and film.

14. WHO has provided field teams for combatting malaria and cholera. ILO has held regional conferences to discuss manpower problems, labour inspection and technical training. FAO has established an International Rice Commission, formed a Rice Breeders' working party, organized an Indo-Pacific Fisheries Conference, and a Conference on Forestry Work.

15. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development has conducted surveys of developmental needs and assisted governments with the advice of its experts. ECAFE plays an important part, particularly in collecting and providing information about the Asian region.

16. The activities of these organizations in South and South-East Asia are more fully described in other documents presented to the conference. Their work has been useful but limited. Like other governments, the Australian Government has announced its intention to contribute funds and facilities for the expansion of the technical assistance work of these organizations. The expanded programme should begin to operate in late 1950.

17. The Australian Government has participated in many of the activities conducted by the Specialised Agencies in the Asian region. On its own account the Australian Government introduced, in 1948, a system o f annual awards of fellowships to persons selected by governments in the region and a plan for providing reconstruction materials of an educational nature to South and South-East Asia.

18. An illustration of the nature and scope of subjects selected by trainees is provided by the following list. In each of these cases, which illustrates a sample group, the Commonwealth Office of Education has made arrangements of a special kind.

Animal Health

Sugar Cane Cultivation and Research

Geological Research

Soil Fertility, Soil Diseases and Soil Conservation

Electricity and Electronics




Training in Electricity with the State Electricity Commission

Road Construction with State Roads Department

Aerodrome Construction with Civil Aviation Department

Training in the Wood Products Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Organization

Fundamental Education with State Department of Education

19. The technical assistance facilities so far offered leave urgent requirements in South and South-East Asia to be filled. This has led to the Australian suggestion for a programme of technical assistance to be financed by the creation of a British Commonwealth Fund.

20. There are, however, certain general principles which need to be established in either a short-term or long-term technical assistance programme:—

(a) An indigenous effort including such measures as budgetary provisions for permanent administrative arrangements, construction of buildings to which external aid is supplementary and temporary.

(b) Preparation of long-term programmes (say five years) for the manning of relevant services of the public administration with the influx of trainees from foreign or newlyestablished local institutes, together with firm budgetary proposals by the government.

(c) Preparation of a similar programme for extension or initiation of the training institutes themselves, with evidence that budgetary provisions will be needed for them.

21. It remains to consider the form which technical assistance might take under the more important headings given above in order to make the most beneficial contribution to the countries in question. Here again the question is discussed mainly in the light of Australian experience because it is considered preferable to refer to familiar conditions rather than conjecture on facilities which another contributing country might be able to provide. Nevertheless, it is believed that Australian conditions would be broadly similar to those existing in many other countries and that this note might suggest a profitable method of enquiry.

Specific measures o f assistance suggestedfor the Commonwealth Scheme:

(1) Trainees

22. The scheme should include individual awards in subjects like administration, agriculture, health and similar fields, in educational institutions. At the same time the practice of making short ad hoc courses available should be pursued. These could be made available anywhere in the soft currency area where there are appropriate facilities.

23. Besides granting individual awards, groups of people from the one country might be trained in donor countries on the same subject. This might enable them to make a considerable impact in their particular field upon returning to their home countries. In addition, the practice of bringing out groups of this kind might be necessary for coordination with plans for providing expert assistance which are discussed later.

24. Accommodation will no doubt present a difficulty in many donor countries and methods for overcoming it will be necessary. It is suggested that one such method would be to select a percentage of courses which would not require training in the capital cities. When this is done it may also be possible to absorb more trainees where they are brought in in groups to do the same type of work.

25. It is necessary to establish machinery to handle the trainees. In Australia this is done primarily by the Commonwealth Office of Education in association with the Department of External Affairs. Administrative requirements are:—

(a) Arranging courses with Universities and other educational institutions;

(b) Arranging ad hoc courses;

(c) Co-operating with other interested departments, especially where training of a particular type is required to aid some other use to which the Fund may be put, for example, if it were used to establish medical or nursing schools or technical institutions;

(d) Reception and welfare arrangements.

Possibilities in field of artisans and tradesmen:

26. This method of training would be to send groups of unskilled workers from one country to another to obtain skilled training as craftsmen in technical colleges and institutes or on farms with associated practical work as apprentices.

27. There are obvious advantages in training workers either in their own country or under conditions which are substantially the same as those to which they are accustomed. This could mean moving groups from one Asian country to another at the expense of the Commonwealth Fund. It is likely that there are fields in which this could be done. In fact it is understood that India has introduced a small scheme of the kind to assist her Asian neighbours. However, the most promising technique is to send instructors, demonstration equipment and instructional manuals to the country concerned.

28. The Department of Labour and National Service in Australia has developed simplified methods for the accelerated training of tradesmen and artisans. They have been most successfully applied in meeting the large demand for tradesmen in the Defence Forces and industry during the War and also for training ex-servicemen under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Methods used have included the use of specially compiled simplified and illustrated manuals, posters, film strips and motion picture training films. In addition, certain techniques have been used for 'learning by doing'.

29. Australia may be able to help by applying the techniques mentioned above. Possible assistance might take the form of any one or a combination of the following:—

(a) The provision of simplified technical manuals, posters, film strips, motion picture training films, etc.

(b) The provision of tools and equipment for training purposes.

(c) The provision of teams of instructors with demonstration equipment who could either carry out mass instruction or establish and operate training centres for the purpose of training a sufficient number of local instructors.

(2) Expert assistance

30. Detailed enquiries would be necessary as to the ways in which assistance could best be given before deciding what classes of experts might be sent to recipient countries. Until such an enquiry has been made one can only speculate as to the kinds of assistance which might be required at any given time: There is, however, ample evidence of the kind of training for which various governments have asked from time to time in the past.

31. Experts could be used for the establishment, in consultation with the governments concerned, of teaching, medical and nursing schools, technical schools, etc. These would be built by the government concerned, directed by staff paid by the Fund until such time as students have completed courses and qualified for such duties and equipped by the Fund. Another possible field is assistance to institutions already established in the area by missionary bodies, Carnegie2 and other institutions to provide modem equipment, etc.

32. One major field requiring exploration is the possibility of organising training in private institutions, factories and businesses.

33. Arrangements of this nature, which have on a few occasions been made by oil companies and others, have the advantage of promoting industrialisation in a manner which will aid directly the country's capital investment and production.

34. Experts might be appointed from private concerns, institutions or government departments. These groups would, of course, overlap and therefore should not be regarded as rigid. Each may have special advantages for selecting particular classes of experts.

Experts from private concerns

A suggestion in this field worth examination is that top rank private engineers from major companies might be employed in certain countries for short terms to assist in technical planning. Experts of this kind would require very high salaries. They would, however, have the advantage of having the resources of large companies behind them. It is worthy of examination whether there is scope for activities along the lines of the U.S. firm Overseas Consultants Inc. which carried out, under contract to the U.S. Government, a survey of Japan's capacity to pay restorations and is at present working with the Iranian Government on their plan for economic development.

Experts from institutions

This category is intended to describe experts drawn from Universities, Technical Colleges, etc. The experts would in the main be teachers who could most usefully be used to assist recipient countries with their educational programmes.

Experts from government departments

This category would cover a wide field. Governments to-day employ experts in many spheres of activity. The following provides some idea of their diversity:—

Experts in administration.

Aircraft Engineers and Technicians.

Specialist Medical Officers, experts in Public Hygiene, Nutrition and Quarantine.

Geologists and Geophysicists.

Marine Engineers and Surveyors, Transport Engineers.


Education experts.

Telephone Mechanics and Engineers.

[NAA: A10617, 1950/8]

1 See Document 58.

2 That is, the Carnegie Corporation o f New York, a grant-making organisation founded to promote 'the advancement and diffusion of understanding and knowledge'.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History