Customisation is the process of adapting the BRIDGE materials to suit the specific needs and objectives of a project, program or workshop targeting different audiences.

Once the type of BRIDGE program most appropriate for a country or situation has been determined, customisation of materials and activities will be required. Wherever possible, this should involve relevant stakeholders (the client organisation, political parties, civil society organisations, NGOs, or regional associations) in order to take advantage of their local knowledge and to ensure local capacity is being developed and in order to create a sense of local ownership.

The BRIDGE Facilitators Notes and associated resources provide the basis from which to build a program. Very rarely, however, will they be able to be run exactly as written, as it was impossible for curriculum designers to foresee all the parameters (timing, needs, participants levels, circumstances) under which all programs in all contexts would be implemented.

A BRIDGE Program, that is, the running of workshops based on the BRIDGE materials and within the framework set out by the BRIDGE Office, is most effective when it is carefully designed and customised with the clients and hosting organisations needs and requests, timing constraints and venues in mind.

A metaphor could be that accessing the BRIDGE V2 curriculum is like shopping at a well-stocked supermarket prior to preparing a special meal. Only the host knows the reason for having the meal, the season for the meal, the dietary requirements of the guests, and the number of guests. All these elements are essential for preparing the menu, and from the menu, the shopping list.

Customisation will require numerous elements. These include:

  • Ensuring that the objectives of the BRIDGE program are consistent with the broad capacity development and professional development objectives of the client country.
  • Ensuring that the workshops and program fit the time available. This will require building agendas that meet program objectives while recognising time constraints. There are sample agendas in the Facilitator Resources of all modules; however, even these will need to be customised to ensure relevance to each context. Sample agendas are available in all BRIDGE modules.
  • Ensuring appropriate selection of modules, or sections of modules, based on the program objectives and the results of the training needs assessment.
  • Ensuring the appropriate selection of activities based on the program objectives and the results of the training needs assessment and the audience.
  • Developing new activities based on the context and audience.
  • Adding materials relevant to the context and audience.
  • Translating materials where appropriate.

While BRIDGE can be customised to the specific requirements of a project, it is recommended that the following elements be included:

  • Accreditation of BRIDGE facilitators, using the TtF workshop: In setting up BRIDGE programs, project partners should assess the appropriateness of conducting this workshop. The accreditation of local facilitators constitutes an important contribution to capacity building
  • Adherence to the BRIDGE methodology: This is assured by using facilitators who have been accredited by the founding partners
  • The capacity-development approach and BRIDGE methodology must stay intact: Whatever customisation is required, it is essential that the resultant program remain true to the principles of capacity development and that the methodology used be consistent with BRIDGE methodology
  • An experienced BRIDGE facilitator should coordinate the customisation process

Principles of customisation

BRIDGE can be used and adapted to a variety of circumstances and purposes. However, there is a set of principles on customisation which need to be borne in mind.

  • The workshop structure must remain true to the Key Understandings and associated Learning Outcomes, as outlined in the modules. The successful implementation of BRIDGE generally requires a significant sensitivity to, and appreciation of, the context in which it is based. 
  • The customisation process needs to be negotiated between the project team and the client. The actual customisation work is however the responsibility of the project team. The actual conduct of the program must be done by accredited BRIDGE facilitators. Ideally, facilitators should be a part of the customisation process.
  • Content should be made relevant to the country, region, culture and organisational context (for example, references to the Constitution, electoral law and electoral system, type of EMB, ballot paper, cultural practices and norms, should be tailored appropriately).
  • Since BRIDGE methodology puts an emphasis on comparative studies, examples from other countries should also be used. Whenever possible, regional examples should be preferred. 
  • Whilst not a minimum requirement, it is recommended that one or both of the Foundation Modules should be implemented first. The reasons for this are:
    • to showcase the BRIDGE methodology and content to the client and donors
    • to enable stakeholders to judge whether BRIDGE is suitable in their context (and to show potential facilitators what type of program it is so they can decide whether they would want to become accredited facilitators or participate in a future TtF workshop).
    • to provide a firm foundation for other modules
  • The level of language should be adapted according to the audience’s language level and diversity.

The way the Foundation Modules are used (either in their entirety over five days, or shortened according to the time available) will vary, but the aim should be to showcase and provide a contextual basis for further BRIDGE workshops.

Customisation for different program types

All BRIDGE programs will require a degree of customisation to suit the client. Although customisation work will be minimal, it will be necessary to amend the scheduling, duration and emphasis of activities to adapt them to the client organisation’s needs and context. Depending on the type of program chosen, the following specific points should be taken into consideration:

Running BRIDGE as an adapted and customised program

The selection of modules will be based on the client’s needs.  The team members in charge of customising the materials should have knowledge and experience of the country.  The design should take into account the cultural, social, political and legal context.  It might be necessary, for example, to avoid activities obviously unsuited to such contexts.

Deleting, adding or creating an activity should always be consistent with BRIDGE methodology. For instance, care should be taken not end up with a workshop that relies overly on lecturing methods.

One should ensure a coherent and logical flow of activities throughout the modified materials – in particular, a proper mix of still vs. moving activities, small group work vs. general brainstorming, and role-plays vs. case studies.

Running BRIDGE in combination with operational or other sorts of training

The best way to do this is to introduce each operational topic with one or more BRIDGE activities, or fit the operational topic within a BRIDGE structure. 

BRIDGE methodology and training techniques are used as often as possible to present operational procedures. A good example is using role – play to study polling procedures, demonstrating all the possible issues that may arise on polling day and how polling officials should deal with them.

When designing a combination program, facilitators should keep in mind that there should be at least a minimum percentage of original BRIDGE activities introduced if the BRIDGE tag is going to be claimed for such a program.

BRIDGE curriculum and customisation

There are several stages involved in making a BRIDGE program a reality. Of direct relevance to the program development and customisation phase is the needs assessment stage, and ideally there would be continuity between the two. This could be achieved by including someone on the needs assessment team who will also be part of the team designing the program and workshops.

Let us consider an example where a needs assessment team, based on consultation with a wide array of stakeholders, identifies a problem: certain parties did not accept election results as valid in a previous election, and trust in the electoral process has diminished since then. While a workshop cannot solve deeply entrenched problems, nonetheless the reasoning behind a program design could be as follows:

  • Choose participants from both parties and electoral management bodies and design the program accordingly as a forum for a dialogue
  • Compose a workshop pulling the most appropriate content together, such as:
    • Ethics, Principles, and International Standards from the Introductory Module
    • Introduction to the Electoral Cycle from the Electoral Assistance Module
    • Media Centre and Results activities from the Polling, Counting and Results module
    • Some activities from Technology, Observation and Dispute Resolution Modules (depending on what the contentious issues were in the previous elections)
    • Within the workshop, explore ways of improving mechanisms for communication and transparency, to prevent mistrust and misunderstanding. Encourage and facilitate the development of a list of personal commitments for the participants to follow after the workshop

Putting such eclectic content together into a smooth and effective program is the real challenge of customisation – especially if translation and regionalisation (adapting workshop content, resources and case studies to the particular region) are also involved. A program development team would, together with other stakeholders of the program such as the needs assessment team, implementing organisations and project manager, propose a series of program objectives, and gain consensus and agreement on these.

Based on these program objectives, the program developers would choose from the 23 modules as appropriate. They would then create a revised set of Key Understandings, Learning Outcomes, and Assessment Criteria reflecting the specific activities and resources that have been chosen from the modules and any activities or materials that have been created specifically for the program.

The customisation team would then collate in an appropriate way, adding new dimensions, resources, activities, case studies and guest speakers to create a seamless program.

Working from original BRIDGE resources

Any customisation process will take as a starting point the original BRIDGE resources. Those are the sole property of the BRIDGE partners and are available to facilitators and implementers from the BRIDGE website (hard copies and electronic copies can be ordered from the BRIDGE Office).

Almost all BRIDGE documents are available as MS Word files and can be modified to suit, keeping in mind BRIDGE rules and guidelines.  After customisation, amended BRIDGE documents should be copied to the BRIDGE Office, or directly uploaded to the BRIDGE website to be archived as reference (refer to 6.2 Focus On: The BRIDGE Website).  It is important that statistics, charts and power points are regularly updated.

When developing and customising BRIDGE module workshops, facilitators should use the standard BRIDGE Facilitators Notes matrix and list all the supporting materials that would be needed.

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