Vienna. During 6-7 April 2009 representatives from government, accounting and auditing professional bodies and academia of South East European economies met to discuss opportunities to work together to strengthen all aspects of accounting and auditing education and to explore the idea of forming an Accounting and Auditing Education Community of Practice (A & A Education CoP). This initiative is a key element of a five year program of regional activities under the Regional "Road to Europe - Program of Accounting Reform and Institutional Strengthening" (REPARIS), and the workshop was a first step in establishing an ongoing forum to develop a common understanding of issues that need to be addressed in building a sound framework for accounting and auditing education.
Etienne Wenger (www.ewenger.com), World Bank consultant and Community of Practice expert provided an overview of the concept with examples of how it worked elsewhere. We are trying to create a learning partnership among practitioners across the entire region. This is a new way for the Bank to work and we try to do that in a way that serves the needs of each economy, helping the Professional Accountancy Bodies, Governments and Universities develop a world standard accounting education system – he pointed out.
Jan Tyl and Luc Cardinal of the World Bank Centre for Financial Reporting Reform, which leads the REPARIS program, provided a detailed summary of common issues found in analytical ROSC reports for economies within the region and how the A & A Education CoP may be beneficial.
Professor Kralicek from Prague school of Economics explained the nature, impact and experience of the transformation of accounting education at the university level, by providing examples from the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the role of professional bodies, international education standards and universities in the development of accounting and auditing education were also given a special attention. Mark Allison, chairman of the International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) provided an outline of the nature and significance of International Education standards (IES), and highlighted the IAESB’s work in developing them. Mr Allison stated that the IES were particularly useful in guiding the region as it moved to adoption: Though there are many cultures, traditions, countries and economies represented here, and stakeholders such as Universties and professional bodies, the IES focuses attention on the common challenges faced by all.
In the end, participants agreed that the concept of cultivating a regional Accounting and Auditing Education Community of Practice would help in accelerating the development of the professional accountancy education program in each economy. The group identified a preliminary learning agenda for the A&A Education CoP around the main issues which concerned all of them. These included establishment of a link between universities, professional bodies, business community and government, the quality of financial reporting, improvement of the legislative framework and professional certification of accountants and auditors.
In conclusion, John Hegarty, the head of the Centre for Financial Reporting Reform (CFRR), reiterated the World Bank’s support for the formation of a community of practice focusing on accounting education: A key element of a community of Practice is that the members identify the priorities, do much of the work, through knowledge sharing, and learn from each other, and yesterday and today demonstrated your willingness to do it and I congratulate you for that. Our role is to give you the support, the resources, the inputs you need. Participants agreed to officially launch the Accounting and Auditing Education Community of Practice during the Ministerial conference in Vienna, which will take place on 25 June 2009.
These issues and the meeting itself are reflected in a blog, one of the means of social reporting, which helps participants relive the workshop, communicate with each other and keep the Community “alive”. Social reporting is about using new and simple technology such as digital cameras and camcorders, the web, blogs and other to capture conferences and seminars. The CFRR in Vienna introduced and uses these new means of communication for the success of the REPARIS program.