The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been actively supporting the Electoral Administration of Rwanda since 2001, including large-scale professional, technical and training assistance. With the project, Developing Capacities of democratic Institutions for Fair Electoral Processes and Active Civil Participation, UNDP aims to developing long-term capacities for fair and well-organized electoral processes.
The internationally recognized BRIDGE curriculum was selected for professional development purposes. BRIDGE is the most comprehensive professional development course available in election administration. To date, it has been conducted in over 30 countries for more than 2,000 people. It improves the skills, knowledge, and confidence both of election professionals and of key stakeholders in the electoral process, such as members of the media, political parties, and electoral observers. As part of this initiative, the Rwanda National Electoral Commission (NEC) organised a BRIDGE Module Workshop on Polling, Counting and Results English from 20-22 August 2012 which was held in the capital, Kigali. The course had two notable outputs. One was to afford 13 members of staff attend the module workshop and secondly to enable 2 semi-accredited facilitators who had successfully completed a Train the Facilitator course attain full accreditation following their being part of the facilitation team. Rwanda now has two qualified BRIDGE Workshop facilitators who can roll out BRIDGE workshops.
The Executive Secretary of the NEC, Mr Charles Munyaneza during one of his monitoring visits encouraged participants to make full use of the opportunity through full time attendance and active participation in order to acquire and enhance their knowledge in elections. He also encouraged the two semi-accredited facilitators to sharpen their skills since from then onwards, they would be conducting the course without the assistance of International Facilitators.
Two International and two semi-accredited BRIDGE facilitators participated in the preparation and delivery of the course:
1. Rindai Chipfunde-Vava– Accrediting Facilitator, Lead Facilitator- (Consultant; Zimbabwe- Zimbabwean)
2. Harris Potani – Workshop Facilitator – (Consultant; Malawi- Malawian)
3. Vestine Mujawamariya – Semi-Accredited Faclilitator (Rwandese)
4. Jean de Dieu Rutatika – Semi-Accredited Faclilitator (Rwandese)
The facilitation team consisting of two female and two male facilitators was balanced by a good combination of professional experience and diverse country background. The two semi-accredited were mentored during both the preparation and delivery of the workshop. The team provided a positive environment and established very good professional relationships with the participants and the positive spirit throughout the three-day workshop.
Thirteen participants (5 Females and 8 Males) all drawn from the NEC participated in the workshop. The participants who are employed in various positions in the Electoral Management Body were selected on the basis of their experience and expertise as electoral administrators. They levels ranged from Directors to Zone Officers. The participants appreciated the course in relation to their work and one participant recognized that “the knowledge gained in electoral processes and skills in facilitation methodologies is vast over few days and you don’t get in any university degree or diploma” The group was very committed, dedicated and lively throughout the training days.
The mixture of different experiences, levels and culture on the part of both the facilitators and the participants also tremendously contributed to the success of the workshop. Participants exchanged information, experiences and practices among themselves and with the facilitators. The positive spirit amongst the team also assisted those with any barriers especially language and public speaking to overcome their challenges.
The workshop ended on day 3 with a speech by Mr Charles Munyaneza the NEC Executive Secretary. He congratulated the participants for the dedication and commitment during the workshop and also those that had attended the TtF from 6-17 August, 2012. He also made a commitment that he will do everything within his power to ensure that all BRIDGE is institutionalized in the NEC. Since there are no Commissioners because their term of office expired, he stated that another Introduction module will be inevitable once new Commissioners are in place. Finally, he commended the facilitators for a job well done and flexibility in the delivery of BRIDGE. The certificate ceremony was conducted in three categories. First was the 17 Semi-Accredited facilitators who had attended a Train the Facilitator course from 6-17 August 2012; secondly it was the 13 participants who had completed a 3-day workshop on Polling, Counting and Results; and finally the 2 Semi-Accredited Facilitators who had acquired full accreditation. The certification ceremony was combined to allow for the presence of the sponsors UNDP who were be represented by the Country Director. In his closing remarks, the UNDP Country Director, Mr Auke Lootsma, expressed happiness that the NEC had achieved an important milestone in the democratization process. He stressed that UNDP will continuously support the NEC capacity building project.