The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and the African Union developed a five-year implementation plan called the Joint Activity Plan in 2008. The “JAP”, as it is known, was entered into with the AU Political Affairs Department and covers the six main areas of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The relationship is based on providing support to the AU commission in its work in such areas as Democratic Elections, Constitution Building, Culture of Democracy and Peace, implementation of the Democracy Charter, and support to the AU’s “Shared Values” agenda. In addition, the JAP provides for a component of direct support to building the capacity of the African Union Commission (AUC) through the placement of staff in the AU Political Affairs Department. This allows IDEA to engage better with the AU on the Joint Activity Plan and to more directly meet the Commission’s needs in the area of democracy building.
BRIDGE has been a key focus of the Joint Activity Plan with the African Union, which identified the need to support the professional development of election administrators across the continent. Since the project began in 2009 it has trained more than 278 election administrators from 43 African Election Management Bodies. Organised at the regional level the training courses have been held in English, French and Portuguese. The project also contributed to the global body of knowledge on elections in French and Portuguese by translating more than 4000 pages of BRIDGE materials to support the Lusophone and francophone electoral experts in their work in managing elections and the electoral process.
BRIDGE is the world’s foremost training curriculum on electoral processes. It is a partnership between 5 leading organisations; International IDEA, UNDP, the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division, IFES and the Australian Electoral Commission. The BRIDGE curriculum spans 4 main areas: the foundation of election administration, electoral stakeholders, operations and electoral architecture. There are 24 modules in the BRIDGE curriculum and over 10,000 pages of materials.
This project utilizes the BRIDGE training curriculum to meet the training needs of the recipient EMBs. The BRIDGE curriculum is used to build the capacity of participating EMB personnel in two aspects, firstly to enhance their professional development as election administrators and secondly, to transfer skills to be able to facilitate BRIDGE training courses in their home organisations.
This BRIDGE Train the Facilitators (TtF) workshop is part of the overall JAP between International IDEA and the African Union and is funded by GIZ under an agreement between International IDEA and GIZ. It is the first in a series of workshops aimed at a national level in five countries identified by the AU. The specific purpose of the TtF is to allow facilitators from the different countries to reach their first stage of accreditation, for the possibility of achieving their full accreditation during the national workshops throughout 2012 and 2013.
Twenty participants (8 Females and 12 Males) from five countries participated in the workshop.
The countries represented were as follows:
The participants who are employed in various positions in their respective EMBs were selected on the basis of their experience and expertise as electoral administrators and as trainers. They could not articulate enough how impressed they were with the uniqueness and flexibility of the BRIDGE curriculum and methodology and how useful it will be in assisting them in conducting future training programmes (Refer. participant’s comments). The experience, content knowledge, commitment, hard work and enthusiasm demonstrated by all participants throughout the workshop contributed to the achievement of the aims of the training. The mixture of different organisational experiences and diverse cultures 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 (language and cultural) and public speaking to overcome their challenges.
The course commenced at 09:00 on day 1 with an opening and welcome by Stina Larserud; Program Officer; Africa Program – International IDEA office in Pretoria South Africa followed by the a speeches by Dr Kelechi Akubuenze, Guy Cyrille Tapoko, Elections Officer, Department of Political Affairs, African Union Commission. Ambassador Mustaq Moorad, head of International IDEA Africa and Middle East who officially opened the programme. Subsequently the two-week programme commenced with presentations on the background of BRIDGE, the teaching methodology behind it and the Learning Outcomes of the TtF Workshop.
The participants were given an opportunity to apply the BRIDGE curriculum through a variety of activities, such as Role Plays, Group Work and Case Studies during the presentations. Throughout the programme participants and facilitators conducted icebreakers and energizers in order to establish rapport among the participants and in order to rejuvenate the mind and body. During the first day of the course, participants developed their own code of conduct, which is not only an exercise in team building, but also another approach to working with adults and a way of constructing accepted behaviours for the rest of the two weeks.
The facilitators conducted their sessions during the first and second day and subsequently handed over to the participants on day three where they had to work in pairs to facilitate BRIDGE activities chosen from 10 modules – Boundary Delimitation, Political Contestants, Political Finance, Electoral Observation, Electoral Management Design, Electoral Training, External Voting, Strategic Planning and Finance, Electoral Assistance and Voter Registration, under the Key Understanding (KU) assigned to them by the facilitators. During the first set of paired presentations, the participants who were very eager to take a shot at facilitating the BRIDGE curriculum performed exceptionally well with a high level of professionalism and enthusiasm.
During the second round pairs were provided with different modules from those used during the first round – Electoral Dispute Resolution, Gender and Elections; Civic Education; Voter Information; Access, Polling, Counting and Results; Electoral Systems; Legal Framework; Electoral Technology; Media and Elections. During this process, the participants were instructed to choose a Key Understanding and develop a Learning Outcome and to design activities through which they could assess other participants in their understanding and achievement of the Key Understandings and Learning Outcomes. The major task during this round was aimed at participants developing activities that would clearly demonstrate their curriculum writing skills and their understanding of the BRIDGE methodology and formatting. The participants were also required to prepare all the resources required for the presentation i.e. hand outs, OHP transparencies and scenarios for the role-plays.
Time was allocated for the preparation of the material and a briefing session was held in order to guide the participants through the process of swapping as they had to swap their written material with another pair that would facilitate the activities while the writers act as participants during the presentations. This process provides the participants with an opportunity to write the training material using the BRIDGE methodology, facilitate the activities while learning different techniques from one another.
The facilitators guided the participants in the preparation of the material in order to ensure that everyone delivered on the expectations and ensure the achievement of the ultimate goal of eliciting the accurate and relevant content. As it was the case during the first round, the participants once again performed very well, the materials were well written and thought through with very strong content which was displayed well during the presentations and in most cases this was done with more depth. A briefing session on the content was held after the first and the second paired presentations in order to ascertain from the participants whether the activities were relevant and useful in their context and whether they had any suggestions or recommendations for the purpose of improvement. Everyone was satisfied with the material and the manner in which it was presented.
The activities of the last two days of the course which covered all processes pertaining to the implementation of BRIDGE subsequent to attending the TtF were presented by the facilitators while participants were given an opportunity to develop implementation strategies for BRIDGE in their countries, regions and organisations. All participants expressed the need to implement BRIDGE in the future in order to build capacity in their contexts, strengthen their institutions and establish relationships with the stakeholders in their respective fields. The workshop ended on day 10 with a certificate ceremony and speeches by the AU/GIZ delegates Dr Kelechi Akubuenze, Shumbana Karume, Head of Elections Monitoring Unit, Department of Political Affairs, African Union Commission who officially closed the programme.
Four BRIDGE facilitators participated in the preparation and delivery of the course:
1. Sibongile Zimemo (Consultant; South Africa – South African)
2. Zefanias Matsimbe (Consultant; South Africa – Mozambican)
3. Stina Larserud (Program Officer, Africa Program; South Africa – Swedish)
4. Dr Kelechi Akubuenze (International Expert African Union Commission – Ethiopia – Nigerian)
The facilitation team consisting of two female facilitators and two male was balanced by a good combination of professional experience and diverse country background supported by the efficient administrative team. The team provided a positive environment and established very good professional relationships with the participants and the positive spirit was maintained throughout the programme.
“Keep up the spirit. The standards are high to the sky. Long live BRIDGE” Hilda, Kenya
“Good trainig, wonderful facilitators and participants. Hope that soon we will be fully accredited facilitators” Alice, Malawi
“The programme was well planned. The choice of activities was excellent and the closing day was memorable. I was almost crying when Stina was talking” Jude, Nigeria
“The BRIDGE course is very good in knowledge enriching” Hadiza, Nigeria
“Thank you for the life time opportunity” Mavis, Botswana
“Please come to Kenya for a BRIDGE to transform more lives in the IEBC. Thank you very much. I also look forward to facilitate with any of you in future. It will be a greta honour!” Abdiwahid, Kenya
“Saniraty facilities in the training venue were too few for all the participants” Charles, Kenya
“The issue of medical cover/insurance has to be revisited. Health of participants should and must be a concern to the organisers. I personallly didn’t take kindly to the absence of medical insurance” Dintle, Botswana
“The structure and manner of delivery of the course offered to participants a lot of experience sharing” Elton, Malawi
“Continue being positive and being accommodative to participants. Thanks to our facilitators for giving us in inducive envronment” Rebecca, Malawi
“Bravo to the donors, organisers and facilitators. Long live African Union and the BRIDGE” Colday, Cameroon.