The United Nations Development Program – Romania office hosted a very special gathering in Bucharest last week, bringing together 30 participants from a dozen countries in the Central Europe, North Africa and Middle East regions. The 4-day course focused on the design and implementation of civic education as well as key points in voter information. The exceptional diversity of the audience generated a wealth of shared experience, ideas and debate in a lively classroom environment.
UNDP-Romania enriched the course by inviting three guest speakers during the week. Silvia Cambie, international strategic communication professional, introduced the group to new media strategies. High-profile Romanian journalists Eliza Rogalski and Mihai Constantin shared their insights on media and communication issue in the electoral context. In addition, the group benefited from two extraordinary cultural and networking opportunities in Bucharest: first, an opening dinner with an unbeatable 360° view over the city, and, on Thursday, a symphony orchestra performance by the legendary George Enescu Philharmonic at the historic Bucharest Athenaeum.
A diverse team facilitated the workshop: Bassam Alyaseri (Australia) is an Electoral Adviser from the UNSMIL Electoral Support Team. Dieudonné Tshiyoyo (DRC) is Regional Electoral Advisor with the UNDP Regional Center for Africa. Gabrielle Bardall (USA) is an independent consultant and PhD candidate at the Université de Montréal.
The workshop a mix of two BRIDGE modules: Civic Education and Voter Information, combined in a way to provides both substantial theoretical information and practical exercises on: Voter Information / Education, Electoral Communications Strategy, Voter Awareness, Electoral Education, Civic Education
The training objectives will built around the needs/expectations of the participants, thus a quick Needs Assessment tool designed and used for defining and narrowing down the scope of the training.
The following subjects were the focus of the workshop:
a) Definition and Rationale for Civic Education;
b) Principles and Standards for Effective Civic Education;
c) Developing Civic Education Programs;
d) Definition and Rationale for Voter Information;
e) Principles and Standards for Voter Information
f) Developing Voter Information Programs;
g) Developing Electoral Communication Strategies (identifying communication needs for all stakeholders, assessing available resources -human and material, selecting objectives and designing activities)
the workshop participants came from EMB staff, NGO and media representatives from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iraq, Palestine and Romania.
Participant evaluations applauded the BRIDGE methodology and the comparative nature of the curriculum. There was significant interest to learn more about many of the topics covered, particularly gender and elections, accessibility, social media, Some CSOs also expressed enthusiasm about learning more about their role in electoral reform.
The workshop atmosphere was very pleasant while receiving participants’ positive feedback and eagerness to know more about each aspect covered during the workshop. Major topics of interest were electoral systems and public outreach.