In Pretoria, South Africa on 3 to 14 March 2008, IDEA in partnership with the South Africa Electoral Commission (IEC) held a 10 day BRIDGE Train the Facilitator Course.
The course was attended by 18 election administrators from 9 East and Southern Africa countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zanzibar, Uganda, Zambia) as well as electoral experts from 2 African NGOs EISA based in South Africa and the Goree Institute based in Senegal and two International IDEA staff members.
The course was facilitated by Rushdi Nackerdien (South Africa) and Margot Gould (International IDEA) and two co-facilitators Zefanias Matsimbe (EISA, Mozambique) and Emmanuel Kawishe (Electoral Commission of Tanzania) who both completed the second step in their accreditation process and were awarded certificates of full accreditation as BRIDGE facilitators.
The project is funded by a grant from the Australian Government through its development organ AusAID and is the final activity in a two year programme that began in 2006 to support the professional development of election administrators in East and Southern Africa.
The course was open by three distinguished speakers representing the three organisations who had made the course possible, IDEA, the Australian Government and the South African Electoral Commission.
Speaking on behalf of Australia was HE Mr Phillip Green the Australian High Commissioner to South Africa whose speech to the participants inspired and challenged them to make the most of their opportunity during the course as well as reminded the importance of their roles as election administrators in the advancement of democracy in Africa.
Mr S.S. van der Merwe, Commissioner, spoke on behalf of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and welcomed the participants to South Africa and shared some of his thoughts on free, fair and credible elections.
Dr Abdalla Hamdok, Regional Director of Africa and the Middle East, spoke on behalf of International IDEA he told participants that recent events in Kenya remind us how important credible elections are and that democracy requires the continuous building and strengthening its institutions and process. For elections to be free and fair and to produce a credible result the body organising the elections needs to have independence, integrity and professionalism. The BRIDGE training curriculum focuses on the professional development of election administrators recognising that this is one of the essential ingredients for a successful election.
Project training activities conducted by the project since 2006 are:
In total the project has trained (including the current training) over 100 electoral experts from 13 Election Management Bodies in East & Southern Africa (Botswana, DRC, Namibia, Mauritius, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Lesotho, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zanzibar) and 4 NGOs (IED Africa, Kenya, EISA, South Africa & ZESN, Zimbabwe and the Goree Institute, Senegal).
This TtF was the first one to use exclusively the new Version 2 BRIDGE materials. Version 2 offers a much wider scope of materials with an excellent global coverage of experiences that creates a truly international and comprehensive curriculum.
The BRIDGE Train the Facilitator Course was structured as follows.
Day 1 – 3 = Introduction to the BRIDGE Project, outlining of the learning objectives of the course, demonstration of the BRIDGE teaching techniques which gives the foundation for the assignments that will be done during the rest of the course.
Day 3 – 6 = The participants were grouped into pairs and assigned a BRIDGE activity that they had to prepare and facilitate in front of the group. Feedback was then be given on the teaching techniques of the facilitators.
Day 7 – 8 = The participants were grouped into new pairs. This time they were assigned the task of writing a new BRIDGE activity and giving the facilitators notes to another pair who then presented the newly written activity. This teaches curriculum development skills.
Day 9 -10 = Looks at how BRIDGE can be implemented, covering planning on organizing training events, fundraising etc. Participants received their individual evaluations on their performance from the facilitators.
It was a very dynamic group of participants who worked very hard during the course. All 18 participants successfully completed the course and were issued their BRIDGE semi-accreditation certificates at a ceremony hosted by the Electoral Commission of South Africa at its headquarters in Pretoria.
IDEA and indeed all the more than 100 participants in this AusAID funded project would like to thank the Australian Government and AusAID for their generous support of the project.