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South Asia gets connected: The World Bank welcomes growth of TEIN3 community

06 May 2009 | Cambridge, UK

Nepal and Sri Lanka are the latest countries to connect to the TEIN3 pan-Asian research and education data-communications network. They join recent partners India and Pakistan as the TEIN3 network, which is co-funded by the European Commission, now extends to the South Asian sub-continent serving over 45 million users in more than 8,000 academic institutions and research centres across Asia.

The new links allow 100,000 end users at 70 academic and research centres to collaborate with international colleagues via their national TEIN3 partners, Nepal Research and Education Network (NREN) and Lanka Education and Research Network (LEARN) respectively.

“This is a major milestone for LEARN, as joining TEIN3 makes a huge difference to research and education activities in Sri Lanka”, said Nimal Ratnayake, CTO/CEO of LEARN. “Although LEARN has been in operation for almost two decades now, we only had access to commodity Internet so far.”

Prashant Manandhar, his Nepalese counterpart added: “Being part of the TEIN3 community allows us to connect with the rest of the academic world. The financial support of the European Commission (EC) which covers the bulk of TEIN3 connection costs is greatly appreciated. Getting connected to the academic Internet would simply be unaffordable for us without their support. We are preparing a proposal that could be funded by the World Bank for our internal development by acquiring long term bandwidth access and implementing a videoconference service that would complete the end-to-end links between our member faculty and students and their partners worldwide.”

The South Asian network expansion highlights the close and co-operative working between the TEIN3 programme and the World Bank. The World Bank has been engaged in electronic knowledge exchange in the region for some years through its Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) programme and more recently has run a programme of experience exchanges to support institutional development of South Asian NRENs. GDLN promotes the exchange of knowledge and experience among development practitioners, using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and a blend of distance learning methodologies.

Amit Dar, Sector Manager for education in the South Asia Region of the World Bank sees the respective programmes of the World Bank and the EC as being complimentary, and offering great potential for cooperation: “Knowledge is the key to development and it is vitally important for a country’s economic and social growth that it has a university and research capability that is on a par with the rest of the world. Combining our work, which helps build the research networks of our client countries and the EC’s regional programme, TEIN3, which link countries to each other, we are able to bring the knowledge resources of the world to the classrooms and world class research labs to our partners’ higher education institutions.”

The growth of the GDLN network has depended to an extent on the availability of adequate connectivity, and this has presented a challenge in certain regions in the past, including South Asia.  However, by partnering with National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Sri Lanka and Nepal and supporting institutional development of the latter, GDLN has seen its reach extend beyond capital cities, and to new audiences, paving the way for the connection of these two countries to TEIN3.

Nepal and Sri Lanka join China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia in the expanding TEIN3 network, which has also recently connected Taiwan.

Other countries in South Asia are also interested in joining TEIN3, including Bhutan and Bangladesh. In the case of the latter the World Bank is currently implementing a new higher education project which has a component to fund the establishment of BdREN, the country’s future NREN. This is the first World Bank investment of this kind and scale.

TEIN3’s extension to South Asia illustrates how institutions like the EC and World Bank can forge synergies in their aid efforts and work complementarily with NRENs to support Internet development in developing countries, facilitate access to knowledge and learning, and thus break the vicious circle of poverty, brain drain and debt.  This approach could also be a model for multi-agency cooperation in other regions across the world.

“We greatly value the active engagement of the World Bank in research and education networking”, said Dai Davies, General Manager at DANTE, the not-for-profit organisation that coordinates TEIN3. “It is key to long-term sustainability of the TEIN3 network that external agencies work together to maximise the use of resources and expertise. We are planning to transfer management of the TEIN3 programme to an in-region organisation supported by the connected networks in due course and highly value the Bank’s support.”

About TEIN
TEIN (Trans-Eurasia Information Network) – creates the first large-scale research and education network for the Asia-Pacific region. It connects regional researchers and academics with their counterparts in Europe via GÉANT, the world’s most advanced international research and education network, providing the Asia-Pacific countries with a gateway for global research collaboration. TEIN3, the latest generation of the network is supported by €12 million from the EU and further funding from Asian partners.

First conceived in 2000 and now due to run until 2011, the TEIN project is contributing to the further development of the Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN) initiative, which was an outcome of the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) to improve research networking between Europe and Asia-Pacific. Through TEIN1, the first Europe-Asia link dedicated for research and education was established bilaterally between RENATER in France and KISDI in South Korea, with the installation of a connection in December 2001. ASEM 6 in Helsinki in 2006 marked the official inauguration of TEIN2 which extended the bilateral success of TEIN2 to the regional level. Another milestone was achieved at the end of 2009 when the extension of the network to South Asia was formally inaugurated, thus bringing the Asian community further together.

Working in collaboration with DANTE on TEIN3 are RENATER, SURFnet and UKERNA, the National Research and Education Networks of France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, respectively.  The recent extension to South Asia brought the total number of Asian partners up to 19: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam; Australia is also actively participating. For more information please visit
and watch the video at

About DANTE:
DANTE:DANTE is a non-profit organisation whose primary mission is to plan, build and manage research and education networks. Established in 1993, DANTE has been fundamental to the success of pan-European research and education networking. DANTE has built and operates GÉANT which provides the data-communications infrastructure essential to the success of many research projects in Europe.  DANTE is involved in worldwide initiatives to interconnect countries in other regions to one another and to GÉANT. For more information, please visit

About the World Bank:

The World Bank is the world’s largest external education financier to the developing world and its education sector works with countries to integrate education into national economic strategies and develop holistic and balanced education systems that produce results, with a goal of helping countries achieve quality learning for all while investing in the skills and knowledge necessary for growth and competitiveness. The South Asia Region of the World Bank is currently supporting the development of NREN in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh through Sri Lanka Improving Relevance and Quality of Undergraduate Education (IRQUE) Project; and Bangladesh Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP). 

The IRQUE project has supported the development of LEARN in Sri Lanka through upgrading of LEARN connectivity for universities and provision of video conferencing facility for remote universities, University Grants Commission, and the Ministry of Higher Education.

The HEQEP will establish a Bangladesh Research and Education Network (BdREN) to provide high speed connectivity among higher education and research institutions in both the public and private sectors to enable academicians, scientists, researchers and students to communicate with their peers. BdREN will also be connected with other regional and trans-continental RENs and thus link faculty and students of Bangladesh to the global academic community and learning resources. 

The World Bank is also supporting a knowledge exchange activity, South-South Exchange of Research & Education Network Experience (SERENE), which is a program of multi-country exchanges between South Asian and other countries through action-learning program of virtual dialogues, visits, and a workshop, for ministry and university management staff and network managers in the target countries. The SERENE program is specifically aimed at helping the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal to develop a policy and strategy for establishing their own respective Research and Education Network. The exchanges will draw on the experiences of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam as well as of individual experts worldwide.  This program is funded by the multidonor South-South Experience Exchange Trust Fund (SEETF)

About the Global Development learning Network (GDLN):
Coordinated by the World Bank, the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) is a partnership of over 120 recognized global institutions (Affiliates) in over 80 countries that collaborates in the design and delivery of knowledge exchanges on development issues to practitioners worldwide. Affiliates are as diverse as the Asian Institute of Management, the Sri Lanka Distance Learning Centre Ltd., BRAC University, Bangladesh, and The Energy Research Institute (TERI), India. Collectively, Affiliates put on 400+ learning sessions a year that range from training courses and informal brainstorming sessions to multi-country dialogues and virtual conferences. GDLN learning specialists in these organizations collaborate in designing customized learning solutions for clients. With increasing links to in-country networks, GDLN’s reach now extends to more than 500 access points around the world.

Helga Spitaler
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