UNDP Georgia, with financial assistance of EU and in cooperation with the Central Election Commission of Georgia and implementing partner the Centre of Electoral Systems Development, Reforms and Trainings (the Centre), have organized BRIDGE workshop for Observer Organizations.
5-day BRIDGE modular workshop was conducted for the groups working on monitoring of elections in Georgia and working within the Technical Working Group created for better coordination of the electoral activities. The workshop was held during November 21-25 at GPH Hotel, Kobuleti, Georgia. The workshop was facilitated by Natia Kashakashvili (BRIDGE lead facilitator), Giorgi Sharabidze (UNDP/Georgia Training Officer) and Natia Zarnadze-Ioseliani (CEC Training Centre).
The agenda for the BRIDGE course envisaged the topics concerning the Electoral Observation and Electoral Training. Curriculum customization involved researching respective publications and creating new curriculum activities in order to meet the level of the audience.
In total 25 participants (7 male, 18 female) attended BRIDGE workshop, out of which 23 were representatives of eight observer organizations (ISFED, TI, GYLA, CDD, NGNI, NGO Coalition, EEDC, PMMG), one from the CEC secretariat and one from CEC Training Centre.
The workshop was opened by the CEC chairperson Mrs. Tamar Zhvania and UNDP/Georgia Electoral project manager Teona Gamtsemlidze, who welcomed the participants, introduced the facilitators to the audience and mentioned about the benefits of strong stakeholders in the electoral process.
The workshop agenda focused on International Standards of elections, principles for assessing elections; mainstreaming gender and minority issues in observation; use of technology and challenges of observation; Observer mission strategy, events calendar and operational plan for training of observers; also ethical conduct of observers and their dilemmas during the observation.
All of the 8 Observer organizations were monitoring 2013 elections on large-scale basis; therefore they have just practiced all the activities in order to run the monitoring mission. In spite the fact that participants’ initial interest towards the training was somewhat to low, participants found themselves to be able to start looking at most of the activities from the new angle, therefore participants’ through the evaluations noted that they will be better prepared for administration of the monitoring mission for the upcoming local elections (spring 2014) and therefore plan ahead activities they would not consider if not for this training.
Workshop participants have positively evaluated the workshop in terms of content and methodology. Day after day, the participants’ appreciation of the BRIDGE interactive approach was growing and showing through their motivated involvement and interest in the workshop activities.
In general participants agreed on the good organization and preparation of the workshop by the organizers and facilitators which resulted in a successful course. All participants commended the professionalism and skills of the facilitators which helped in creating a positive learning environment. Participants have evaluated the BRIDGE facilitators to be experts on the subject matter.
Among key comments participants mentioned regarding BRIDGE is the distinguished and unique BRIDGE interactive methodology, value of their own experiences, and respect of their opinion. Several assessments were pointed out during the final evaluation:
“The training was very interesting and fruitful. My expectations were not met, because I expected to receive much less, than I have received. All the training sessions were very interesting, especially international standards and principles of elections which are basis for assessing the quality of the elections and democratic process. This topic is the most problematic and I will definitely use the knowledge received in the future”.
“The training was oriented on participation and the learning environment allowed absorbing the vast volume of information easily. The training and facilitators allowed pluralism of ideas and different opinions (even inadequate) were not discredited, which therefore encouraged healthy working environment”.
“The reference material in the participants’ handbook will be very beneficial in order to strengthen and pinpoint the knowledge received during the training days”.
“The synthesis of the background mini-lecture, precise emphases and the group-works encouraged participants to understand the topic much deeper and gave them possibility to digest and analyse in a way to be ready for the action”.
“The training was timely, due to the upcoming planning activities for the local elections. The innovative approach of assessing elections based on the international standards was one of the topic of great interest that participants noted they will be rethinking the style of report writing for the future. Another important topic noted was the recruiting of the staff and drafting the job descriptions for the different positions within the observation mission”.
One of the head of the monitoring organization noted the need to conduct this type of training for the regional office heads for better coordination and planning skills.
Participants also noted the topics for possible future BRIDGE workshops: