Report on the BRIDGE “Train the Facilitators” with a Gender focus Training – Pretoria South Africa

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Subsequent to the success of the very first Gender Train-the-Facilitator (TtF) workshop which was piloted in Pretoria South Africa in September 2010, International IDEA organised a similar TtF on 22 August – 02 September 2011.

Subsequent to the success of the very first Gender Train-the-Facilitator (TtF) workshop which was piloted in Pretoria South Africa in September 2010, International IDEA organised a similar TtF on 22 August – 02 September 2011. This International workshop was also held in Pretoria, South Africa. EMB staff whose portfolio includes coordinating and implementing Gender activities and Gender Experts from different organisations in different countries were invited to attend this workshop. In addition to these officials an invitation was also extended to specific participants who attended the Gender and Elections workshop in South Africa in May this year. These participants were identified as potential BRIDGE facilitators and therefore deserved this opportunity due to their participation during the workshop and their demonstration of various skills and expertise in training and content knowledge

The Gender TtF participants represented various organisations ranging from EMBs, women’s organisations, legal fraternity and professional institutions. Three of the five partners of BRIDGE; International IDEA and UNDP were represented during training. An official of the African Union AU who is part of the team responsible for the implementation of the Joint Action Plan JAP between International IDEA and the AU also attended the training as a participant.

International IDEA also provided funds for accommodation, subsistence and travel for some of the participants and fees for the facilitators.

BRIDGE Train-the-Facilitator Course is a 10-day training workshop designed to train participants on the BRIDGE curriculum content while its main objective is to train participants on effective facilitation skills, different techniques and expertise on how to conduct training effectively in an Adult learning environment. Upon successful completion of the course the participants receive a partial accreditation (Semi-Accreditation Certificate), which is a prerequisite for conducting BRIDGE training courses. The TtF, like all other BRIDGE courses is based on the “BRIDGE Election Administrator’s Training Curriculum” which is a comprehensive training programme developed by International IDEA together with the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division (UNEAD), the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). BRIDGE is unique in the field of electoral training due to the breadth of its scope, the practical nature of the content as well as the innovative use of dynamic adult teaching methodology.

 

2              Course Preparation:

The facilitators arrived a week prior to the commencement of the workshop in order to prepare the course material, develop an agenda and allocate tasks among themselves. One of the facilitators Antonia Ngabala could only join the team on day two of the preparation week as she was travelling in from outside of South Africa and experienced some delay. Relevant activities that would best demonstrate the essential gender aspects were selected and discussed and agreed to by the facilitators. The IDEA staff including the newly appointed BRIDGE Assistant Program officer assisted in the preparation and printing of the course materials.

3              Facilitation Team:

Four BRIDGE facilitators consisting of three female facilitators and one male participated in the preparation and delivery of the course: The gender imbalance was compensated by a good combination of professional experience, diverse country background and different organisations.

  1. 1.Margot Gould (International IDEA; South Africa – Australian)
  2. 2.Zefanias Matsimbe (University of Pretoria, South Africa – Mozambican)
  3. 3.Antonia Ngabala (Consultant; France – Congolese -Brazzaville)
  4. 4.Sibongile Zimemo (Consultant; South Africa – South African)

 

The facilitation team provided a positive environment and established a very good professional relationship with the participants and the positive spirit was maintained throughout the programme.

 

4              Participants:

Twenty participants (10 Females and 10 Males) from 13 countries participated in the workshop. The countries represented were:

 

  1. 1.Cameroon (Participant working in Senegal)
  2. 2.Kenya (2 participants)
  3. 3.Netherlands (Participant working for IDEA in Stockholm; Sweden)
  4. 4.France (Participant working for the UNDP in New York; USA)
  5. 5.Lesotho
  6. 6.Liberia
  7. 7.Malawi
  8. 8.Nepal (2 participants)
  9. 9.Nigeria (Participant working for the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
  10. 10.South Africa (5 participants; 1 working for IDEA SA)
  11. 11.Sweden (Participant working in South Africa)
  12. 12.Uganda
  13. 13.Zimbabwe (2 Participants both working in South Africa)

 

 

The combination of different country, organisational experiences and diverse cultures contributed to the success of the workshop. Participants exchanged valuable information, experience and practices on different electoral and other matter including Gender issues that affect them directly and those affecting women in their diverse fields of work. This information sharing was done among themselves and with the facilitators in a group setting. The positive team spirit among the participants and facilitators assisted everyone to perform at the best of their ability; those who experienced language, cultural and other barriers managed to overcome these challenges due support given by peers and facilitators during the preparation and the presentation of activities.

 

5              The Training Topics and Workshop Agenda:

The training workshop followed a typical structure of a TtF workshop. With 10 training days and 20 participants divided into 10 pairs for the first and second set of paired presentations. The agenda followed the following framework (a full workshop agenda is attached to this report as Annexure 1):

 

DAY1 & DAY2                     Introduction to BRIDGE, methodology, KU, LO of TtF, Learning Styles and Training challenges and techniques.

DAY3 & DAY4                     First set of pairs presentations

DAY 5& DAY6                     Preparation for the second set of pairs presentations

DAY7 & DAY8                     Second set of pairs presentations

Day 9                                     BRIDGE Implementation, developing plans for BRIDGE implementation in participants’ counties, Individual evaluation. Websites: BRIDGE, Facebook Fanpage ACE; Iknowpolitics and the Quota Project

DAY10                                   Presentations of countries/regions BRIDGE plans, final group oral and written evaluation, closing ceremony and certificates.

 

6              The Training Materials:

The participants were provided with materials that included the following:

  1. 1.Facilitation Manual.
  2. 2.BRIDGE Implementation Manual.
  3. 3.Participant’s Workbook.
  4. 4.The facilitators’ notes for all BRIDGE 24 modules (including the Political Financing Module) were made available to participants electronically while the 20 modules that were used during this workshop were printed and provided to them in hard copies.

 

Each participant was provided with a memory stick containing the folders of the 24 BRIDGE Modules, these were very useful for downloading extra resources and save presentations for the first and second set of presentations. The use of new memory sticks also assisted in eliminating the infection by computer viruses on IDEA’s PC and personal laptops as it had been a major problem during the previous workshops.

 

7              Conducting the Course

The course commenced at 09:00 with an opening and welcome by Margot Gould; Program Officer for Africa and the Middle East – IDEA International office in South Africa followed by the speech from Ambassador Mustaq Moorad, Director Africa and Middle East and head of International IDEA in Pretoria South Africa 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 techniques, such as Role Plays, Group Work and Case Studies during the paired presentations using a mixture of new and existing activities that were carefully selected by the facilitators during the preparation week.

Throughout the programme participants and facilitators conducted icebreakers and energizers in order to establish “rapport among the participants and to rejuvenate the mind and body. In 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 and a group of three to facilitate BRIDGE activities from the Gender module under the Key Understanding (KU) assigned to them by the facilitators. During the first set of paired presentations, the participants who showed enthusiasm at the prospect of facilitating their first activities on the BRIDGE Gender Module performed exceptionally well with a high level of professionalism.

During the second round; pairs were provided with 10 different modules – Civic Education; Electoral Assistance; Electoral Contestants; Electoral Management Design; Electoral Observation; Electoral Security; Electoral Systems; Legal Framework; Media and Elections and Voter Registration. In this instance the participants were instructed to choose an existing Key Understanding; develop a new Learning Outcomes or alternatively choose an existing one and modify as needed and design activities through which they could assess 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 with content that exhibited a clear gender dimension. The participants were also required to prepare all the resources required for the presentation i.e. hand outs, visual aids power-point presentations, 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. During this TtF the facilitators arranged the schedule in a manner that did not allow for any direct exchange among the pairs. This process provided 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.

The participants did not fail in this enormous task as they once again performed very well, the materials were well written and thought through. Due to the fact that most of the participants are Gender Experts in their own right they all had strong content knowledge 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 respective contexts, strengthen their institutions and establish relationships with all the stakeholders in their designated areas.

 

8.            Course Evaluation

An end of course evaluation which is in a form of a questionnaire consisting of questions and rating scales was completed by all participants in order to assist the organisers and facilitators on areas of improvement for the course.

 

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