It is more than 10 years ago now that BRIDGE began as the mere spark of an idea amongst a group of electoral experts. Today it is the biggest and most comprehensive professional development program for elections in the world and has come a long way from those initial discussions and the first workshops in East Timor.
The past two years in particular have seen amazing growth in BRIDGE as it truly developed a life of its own. Every week there is a BRIDGE workshop being run somewhere in the world and the BRIDGE Office is run off its feet providing support to the increasing number of people running programs and workshops or just wanting to know more about BRIDGE.
Other highlights of BRIDGE’s first decade include:
– The three original BRIDGE partners (International IDEA, the AEC and UNEAD) being joined by IFES and UNDP
– The establishment of a new Democracy and Governance project to develop the ‘DG’ of BRIDGE
– A UN Public Service Award to recognise the contribution of BRIDGE to improving the delivery of public services
– The growth of the BRIDGE family to include hundreds of facilitators, thousands of participants and many more champions and supporters.
The ten original BRIDGE modules underwent a review and expansion in 2007-8 to be relaunched as ‘Version 2’ of BRIDGE – 23 modules encompassing the original ten, plus a vast amount of new content covering almost every other aspect of running elections. In 2009, IFES funded the creation of a 24th module called Political Financing which has now been added to the curriculum, and are looking in 2011 to create a 25th module called Electoral Fraud to address a key area of interest for anyone working in elections.
The following chart shows what modules have been most in demand over the past 10 years:
Understandably, the Introduction module leads the pack. It’s a great module for introducing people to elections, refreshing knowledge, prompting debate and discussion or getting EMB staff to think more about the principles and values behind the work they do. It’s great to see workshops like Gender and Elections being run so often as well, particularly as part of programs like UNIFEM’s GEPG program in the Pacific.
We are surprised that modules such as Access to the Electoral Process and Post-election Activities have not been run more. Of course, elements of these modules may have been included in other workshops, but if you have run one of these workshops and think yours might have been missed, let the BRIDGE Office know.
To date, nearly 400 workshops have been run and we expect more than 100 to be run in 2011 alone. Countries as diverse as Georgia, Guam and Ghana have hosted BRIDGE workshops and BRIDGE participants (nearly 8000 of them!) have come from all corners of the world.
The chart above shows the amazing growth in the number of BRIDGE workshops being run – the number for 2011 is only to date (August) and we are expecting many more to be registered on the website by the end of the year.
We have also mapped out where in the world BRIDGE workshops have been run and Oceania, Africa and the Arab World have been real champions of BRIDGE. Every year BRIDGE is run somewhere is has never been run before.
The BRIDGE family has grown enormously since the early days of a handful of facilitators travelling the world, trying to plant the seeds of capacity development. By the end of 2011 there will have been at least 70 TtFs run and over 1300 BRIDGE facilitators accredited. There are now many more opportunities for semi-accredited facilitators to complete their accreditation and the past year and a half has seen over 80 facilitators progress to workshop, accrediting or expert categories.
BRIDGE now has a good pool of facilitators in all regions of the world. In the early days, BRIDGE facilitators were concentrated in Oceania and Europe, and particularly within the five BRIDGE partner organisations, but now there are local facilitators available in many countries and regions and BRIDGE is truly fulfilling its capacity building mandate.
It’s been an amazing first decade for BRIDGE and we’re looking forward to the next! The BRIDGE calendar for the next year sees workshops and programs in the lusophone world, the Arab world, the Pacific, all over Africa, and in countries such as Bhutan, Indonesia and Tunisia. The curriculum is being reviewed and updated and the BRIDGE Office is working every day to improve the systems that support the BRIDGE network around the world.
Of course, the BRIDGE Office is only as good as the information we receive. We encourage all BRIDGE facilitators to keep us updated and informed so we can provide better service, and if you think the statistics in this article have missed a workshop that you’ve done, please let us know!