IFES BRIDGE facilitators implemented a two-day BRIDGE Election Systems workshop for 19 employees on 7 and 10 November 2014, as part of its ongoing effort to provide professional development opportunities for employees.
Past formal and informal surveys of IFES staff indicated that HQ employees would benefit from increasing their technical knowledge on election-related topics. They also expressed a strong desire to learn more about the BRIDGE curriculum and how BRIDGE training workshops could be integrated into IFES’ programs. To address these needs, IFES BRIDGE facilitators structured the training to transfer substantive knowledge on different types of electoral systems, key elements of electoral systems, and the challenges and opportunities of choosing different electoral systems. The facilitators also ensured that the workshop served as an introduction to BRIDGE methodology, resources, and its relevance to IFES’ work around the world with a variety of electoral stakeholders.
The facilitators furthermore incorporated lessons learned from previous in-house BRIDGE trainings, minimizing the number of lectures and emphasizing iterative discussions. Interactive group activities not only demonstrated the practical points of different electoral systems, but also provided participants a way to and learn from one another through leveraging the varied knowledge and skillsets in the group.
The workshop included a participant-led case study element that demonstrated the practical application of the workshop training. Workshop participants used their knowledge about the elements and design of electoral systems to analyze electoral systems in countries around the world (including some countries where IFES does not have any programming) and then present their findings to their group. One of the facilitators, IFES’ Jordan Chief of Party Hermann Thiel, also presented a case study from Palestine that demonstrated the critical importance of electoral systems, how a system can change the outcome of an election and of engaging with electoral stakeholders on electoral system topics. As one participant said, “The Palestine case study really blew my mind. It is amazing the power different electoral systems have. The whole training made me realize how much I have left to learn and made me more eager to get started.”
The workshop was organized and led by Hermann Thiel (South Africa, accrediting facilitator), Ambar Zobairi (USA, fully-accredited facilitator), and Eric Hodachok (USA, semi-accredited facilitator). Congratulations to Eric who became a fully accredited facilitator after this training!