[Objectives]  [Scope]  [Partner Institutions]





The International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, through its Pan Asia Networking (PAN) Program














National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (NUCES), Pakistan, through its Centre for Research in Urdu Language Processing (CRULP)










are pleased to announce their initial three-year partnership in a South and South-East Asia wide initiative to build capacity in regional institutions for local language computing.   

While Asians have become the largest group of Internet users by the end 2001, they barely form 4.5% of the region's total population. The region's diversity of languages makes information in the English language largely inaccessible to an overwhelming majority of under-developed rural Asian populations that do not speak and write English.  

Investment has gone into developing the ICT infrastructure in Asia, but the persisting digital divide attests that the path towards providing connectivity and technology infrastructure alone would still not enable a majority of population to benefit from the current availability of information.  What is required is to enable the large under-developed populations of Asia to access and publish content in the languages that they speak and write in, on a daily basis.  Access equates to providing local language computing framework and tools to ultimately translate and display this information in the languages spoken by these large potential users. Publishing content means using these tools to generate information in the required local languages. Inability to do computing in local languages is a major obstacle to providing universal access to information and learning, both basic human rights.



The PAN Localization Project has three broad objectives:


  • To develop sustainable human resource capacity in the Asian region for R&D in local language technology
    The human resource pool in most developing Asian countries needs capacity-building to become skilled in enhancing the existing technology to support their Asian languages. 


  • To raise current levels of technological support for Asian languages
    Asian languages are in some aspects much more complex than English, some with very complex writing systems. The current technology, initially developed to support English, does not completely support the requirements of many Asian languages and needs to be developed.


  • To advance policy for local language content creation and access across Asia for development
    Few studies examine local language problems to devise and recommend effective policy framework to address problems related to accessibility and publication of relevant content through ICTs and devise short-term and long-term solutions. 

          [See PAN Localization Project's Detailed Objectives]



The PAN Localization Project aims at the development of character set, collation and other language standards, fonts, lexica, spell checkers, grammar checkers, search and replace utilities, speech recognition systems, text-to-speech synthesis, machine translation. The Project will assess both Linux and Microsoft platforms for these specific application developments. Different aspects of localization technology will be addressed, including linguistic standardization, computing applications, development platforms, content publishing and access, and effective marketing and dissemination and intellectual property right strategies of the output products. [See Project Outputs]


As the PAN Localization Project will research into problems and solutions for local language computing across Asia for development, it is designed to sample the cultural and linguistic diversity in the whole region.  The spread of the research will be carried out by the various countries at strategically different research entry points along the research spectrum, with each country conducting research that is critical in terms of the applications that need to be delivered to the country’s user market.


The Project will also build an Asian network of researchers to share learning and knowledge and will publish research outputs including a comprehensive review at the end of the Project, documenting effective processes, results and recommendations.


The countries (and languages) included in the Project are Afghanistan (Pashto, Dari), Bangladesh (Bangla), Bhutan (Dzongkha), Cambodia (Khmer), Laos (Lao), Nepal (Nepali) and Sri Lanka (Sinhala, Tamil).  


Partner Institutions

The implementers of the Project are ICT researchers, practitioners, linguists and policy-makers from government agencies, universities and the private sector.  In addition to PAN and CRULP, the following are the participating institutions in this Project:

Afghanistan: Afghan Computer Science Association
Bangladesh: BRAC University

Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Information and Communications

Dzongkha Development Authority, Ministry of Education

Sherubste College


National Committee for Standardization of Khmer Script for Computer

The National ICT Development Authority (NiDA) 


Science, Technology and Environment Agency (STEA)


Madan Puraskar Pustakalya

Kathmandu University

Pakistan:  Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing,
National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences
Sri Lanka:  University of Colombo School of Computing

This region-wide Project initiative will particularly benefit non-English speakers in rural Asia who form the digitally-divided populations of the region.