The experience of running BRIDGE programs has been confirmed in 2007-2008 when Liberian National Elections Commission (NEC) through financial support of IFES conducted series of individual BRIDGE Version 1 Trainings. The need to conduct more Modules in 2012 became vital due to increased demand in capacity building program where BRIDGE fits so well. BRIDGE Version 2 curriculum gives flexibility to choose variety of Modules in different field of election operations, external relations or electoral architecture. As a result, after discussion and analyzing content of Version 2 Modules, team of facilitators selected Modules to be conducted in 2012.
BRIDGE Module 1 was conducted on 16-19 July 2012 in the Golden Key Hotel, Monrovia. Unlike of lecturing style, course used traditional BRIDGE methodology based on adult learning, teamwork and practical learning principles, which comprised participants’ presentations and group work.
Course sessions were conducted by team of facilitators from UNDP, NEC and IFES. Facilitators that have been selected for facilitation possess BRIDGE Certificates of Full or Partial Accreditations.
The following facilitators were chosen for course facilitation, these are:
• Emma Ektobe, NEC Trainers (Semi Accredited);
• Daniel Gegbeson, NEC Regional Coordinator (Semi Accredited);
• Moses Clarke, IFES Program Manager (Semi Accredited);
• Shalva Tskhakaia, UNDP Legal (Fully Accredited);
• George Baratashvili, UNDP Training (Fully Accredited);
Module 1 course training participated NEC HQ and provincial staff members. As a result, total 25 participants were trained amongst them 9 female and 16 male participants.
The course was intensively planned and prepared by BRIDGE team. Facilitators closely followed BRIDGE methodology and its structure. The content of the Module 1 was following:
• Why have elections?
• Guiding principles of election management;
• Legal Framework;
• Access to electoral processes;
• Voter information/Civic education principles;
• Introduction to planning;
• Many systems – one process
• Electoral Management Bodies (set up, stakeholders, introduction, design)
For the first day of the training, facilitators explained to participants the aim and methodology of the BRIDGE Program, its importance and content of the Module. The following days presented different role-plays and energizers. From the beginning, participants were given guidelines for comprehensive understanding of course methodology which is different from traditional lecturing style. For the rest of the days, participants worked in a group to prepare activities and present it. The makeup of the teams was changed time to time so that participants had the opportunity to work with different people and share different experiences and knowledge.
Participants were enthusiastically involved in course activities. Facilitators at all times used simple language in their explanations and presentations. They used different types of brainstorming, group-working and role-play activities. Almost all basic trainers’ skills were used. Facilitators demonstrated their familiarity with the BRIDGE materials and its methodology.
Participants’ evaluations were unanimously positive. They commented on needs for some improvements in terms of facilitation and course agenda. However, it was stated that training was extremely useful and enjoyable besides, it established positive and encouraging environment for participation.
Content of the module was interesting to participants. All activities incorporated in the agenda were clearly understood, even such a difficult topic as electoral systems. Group of BRIDGE facilitators performed their task with proficiency. Facilitators were supportive to other course facilitators and encouraging to participants. They showed the example of good facilitation and how positive learning outcome can be achieved based on skilful facilitation.
BRIDGE course versions 2 curriculum has been implemented in Liberia for the first time. BRIDGE Module 1 course gave possibility to NEC staff to enlarge their knowledge about elections, establish good networking amongst HQ, provincial representatives and facilitators. Besides, BRIDGE course created preconditions for establishment of the firm corpus of BRIDGE facilitators in Liberia, whose experience will be used in future. The work that needs to be implemented should not only be this year priority, curriculum that BRIDGE offers can be used at any time for newly appointed electoral staff training, for developing any training programs and training manuals. Therefore, the knowledge participants will receive during the follow up training courses will help them to manage free and fair Elections in Liberia.