The CEDP team of Yvonne Goudie and Melanie Chan was fortunate to be working with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) in the delivery of the workshop, and also greatly honoured to have the workshop opened by Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechen Wangchuck in a colourful traditional ceremony. The Princess’ opening statements underlined the commitment the people of Bhutan have to creating a successful democracy in their country, and she spoke warmly and eloquently of the synergies between the objectives of the workshop and the hopes for democracy in Bhutan. She encouraged participants to participate actively during the week, and to take from the workshop the ideas and critical thinking that would contribute to the strong development of democracy and governance in the country.
Once again, the CEDP team had two main objectives for the workshop:
The facilitation team was a large one, with Curriculum Advisor Noel Matthews taking on the lead facilitator role and working with a team including Ugyen Gonphel, Sonam Pelden Thaye, Kinley and Chimmi Dem from the ECB; the AEC’s Beatrice Barnett (one of the key writers for the module); and Michael Bergmann from AusAID, the project donors. Michael also completed his BRIDGE accreditation through his work in Paro.
Ross Attrill, the BRIDGE Coordinator, also took a mentoring and facilitation role in the workshop. This was an opportunity for Ross to see the CEDP in action for the first time, having been a strong proponent of it during its development. The team was also fortunate to have Paul Guerin from International IDEA, one of the founding BRIDGE partners, attend as an observer. Thanks must also go to Tshewang Jamtsho from the ECB who played a key role in the logistics and delivery of the workshop, in particular the royal opening ceremony which was a huge task.
Participants came from a wide range of government, community and civil society organisations, including six of the newly elected members of parliament. There were representatives from political parties, civil society organisations, the judiciary, the ECB, the education sector and the media.
After the opening ceremony, participants and facilitators alike took Her Royal Highness’ words to heart and dove straight into the lively discussions, debates and activities with enthusiasm. The lessons learned from Vanuatu gave the team a strong foundation to work from, and the Bhutanese participants again provided valuable feedback for the consolidation of the pilot module, and there was, as always, still significant work to do to ensure that the content was appropriate for the audience and the context. Facilitators had the opportunity to re-trial activities that had been tested in Vanuatu, as well as try some new activities, and much work and commitment was put in by all.
By the end of the week, the workshop had provided many and varied lessons learned to the project team. Although every situation is very different, and will reveal different lessons, this second workshop proved again that the methodology and lesson plans adapt well to a range of circumstances. Many of the lessons learned previously in Vanuatu were confirmed and reinforced in Bhutan. The target audience (i.e. an audience already engaged in democracy and governance), the curriculum structure and content focus, the materials and the implementation and facilitation requirements were all verified as appropriate. The workshop also highlighted the need for a thorough participant needs assessment before workshop content is selected. This helps the workshop curriculum designers to decide on the focus and topics, which methodologies suit particular topics, and whether in-depth analysis of certain areas is needed, and where knowledge inputs such as mini-lectures and/or PowerPoint presentations by experts in the relevant subject field are required.
The team now has the task of refining the curriculum framework yet again, essentially narrowing the ‘core’ and ‘elective’ structure that currently exists, and strengthening two core themes of the workshop – the ‘Democracy Tree’ which acts as a metaphor for different elements of democracy such as values, benefits and principles, and the topic of ‘Governance Challenges/Strategies’, which makes the connection between local issues of democracy and governance and the broader concepts being discussed in the workshop. The next steps for the team, as this first phase of the CEDP comes to an end are:
– To prepare final donor reports and evaluations
– To have a final Phase 1 CEDP team meeting scheduled for 16-20 November to finalise the curriculum framework and complete implementation and evaluation guidelines for the Democracy in Our Place module.
For more information about Phase 2 of the CEDP, please go to (newsletter 900 Kb).