The Electoral Commission of Uganda – EC-Uganda organized a BRIDGE Introduction to Electoral Management course on 4th-8th June 2012 at the source of the Nile Resort in Jinja UGANDA.
This training was one of the many interventions designed by the EC-Uganda to strengthen the capacity of Electoral Commission by training District Officers for effective management of electoral processes. This workshop was one in a series of BRIDGE capacity development trainings that are planned as part of the strategy developed by the institution.
The objective of the BRIDGE Introduction to Electoral Management course was to develop capacity for the newly recruited District staff of the Commission who were promoted to offices of high responsibility in a short period of time in the field of Election Management. The training was opened and closed by the Director of Operation, Mr. Leonard Mulekwah.
The Electoral Commission of Uganda conducted peaceful elections in 2011 and rolled out an evaluation exercise for the 2010/2011 general election early 2012. The evaluation revealed a number of insights. Training of Permanent and non-permanent staff was highlighted to have had serious shortfalls. This was evident in inconsistency of application of rules and procedures by permanent staff as well as low knowledge of electoral procedures by the temporally staff especially at some polling stations. This evaluation revelations confirmed assertions by the international and national election observers in their reports.
The Commission has since developed its five year plan for 2012-2016. A lot of emphasis has been put on training and capacity building for staff and stakeholders. BRIDGE has been identified as a key capacity building course for permanent staff as well as stakeholders.
The 5-day BRIDGE “Introduction to Electoral Administration” course was held in Jinja. The training workshop was designed and customized to suit the needs of EC and the participants were taken through an intensive programme which included, content on Elections in a Global context, BRIDGE as a course, Introduction to Election Management, Legal Framework, Electoral Systems, Election Management Bodies, types and functions, Guiding Principles of Election Management, Boundary Delimitation, Civic Education and Voter Information, Electoral Stakeholder Relationships and Co-operation, Planning, Gender and Elections, Managing Disputes, Electoral cycle, Electoral Dispute Resolution and Sustainability of the EMB’s. Various activities were carefully selected from the Introduction to Electoral Administration and other Modules. The facilitators ensured that the topics included the gender dimension as well as other cross cutting theme and emphasis was made on other cross-cutting themes whenever it was necessary to do so. Upon successful completion of the course, the participants received Certificates.
The International facilitator Kamissa Camara arrived early and worked with the local team to put the programme together prior to the commencement of the training.
The facilitation team provided a positive environment and established a professional relationship with the participants and the positive spirit was maintained throughout the programme.
There were participants 17 participants: 9 males and 11 females, who are employed in various capacities in the Electoral Commission’s field office. Due to recent appointment to higher positions in the EC, It was deemed important to train them on the basic principles of election management. They were impressed and intrigued by the uniqueness and flexibility of the BRIDGE curriculum and methodology.
The experience, content knowledge, commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated by all participants throughout the workshop contributed to the achievement of the aims of the training. The mixture of different experiences and expertise contributed to the success of the workshop. Participants exchanged information, experiences and practices among themselves and with the facilitators. The positive team spirit amongst the participants and facilitators assisted everyone to participate and perform at the best.
Various techniques, including Group Work; Mini lectures and Case Studies were applied to deliver the BRIDGE content. 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. 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 behaviors for the rest of the five-day programme.
The activities of the last day included the completion of the End of Course Evaluation Form; Reflection of the days; the Certificate Ceremony, Closing session and cocktail which included dancing. All participants expressed the need to implement BRIDGE strategies in the future in order to build capacity in their respective contexts, strengthen the organisation and establish relationships with all other stakeholders in the political and electoral fields.