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What is Memory of the World (MOW)?

The Memory of the World (MOW) is the preservation of documentary heritage – thus, the written word on paper, palm leaves or stone and audiovisual materials including photographs, films and music. These documents may reflect a period of momentous change in world affairs or make an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the world at a particularly important time in history.

Access to documentary heritage is an important facet, too, because if we do not preserve, there is no access or memory. Raising awareness is also crucial because without it we will not think about the importance of preserving our documentary heritage as part of our cultural heritage.

For the wider issues in our part of the world, we have MOWCAP, the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific consisting of the MOW Committees in the region. In Asia and Pacific many libraries, archives and memory institutions face formidable challenges - economic, climatic and geographic - in achieving the MOW programme’s goals. MOWCAP assists in making the governments aware of the threat to the countries’ documentary/memory heritage and provide guidance in dealing with the tasks.

MOWCAP also maintains an Asia/Pacific Regional Register of listing of documentary heritage of influence in the region. MOWCAP is the authority that approves inscriptions on the Asia/Pacific MOW Register.

In addition to the constant contact among MOWCAP network members several MOW workshops are being held in the region. Information about them and other activities can be found on the MOWCAP Website

Raising awareness of the MOW program across the Asia Pacific region is challenging and involves many different tasks. A “Goodwill Patron”, Dr. MR Rujaya Abhakorn, was appointed and has been raising awareness about MOW and advocating for setting up of National MOW Committees in the region.

In 2009 a more focused attempt is to raise awareness of secondary school students of MOW.  Methodology and teaching materials have been tested in selected schools in the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.  Teacher training was carried out in May and the trained teachers have passed on their MOW knowledge to their students who have attended a film production workshop with a view to producing short films on documentary/memory heritage.  All films have been submitted to a competition and winning entries are awarded cash prizes the 20 November 2009 at UNESCO Bangkok. 

© UNESCO / R.Manowalailao

A scene taken from a short film produced by students. It is essential that students understand the significance of preserving heritage through documents.