Final Report on BRIDGE Training Workshop for NGOs and Elected Members of Local Councils Sinai Egypt
18 October 2010
Two Bridge Civic Education workshops were conducted in Sinai Egypt, October 16 – 18 and October 19 – 21.
The last fifteen years witnessed an increase number of election all over the world. Many electoral assistance providers, therefore, have gradually begun to recognize that building in-country electoral capacity is much more important than providing ad hoc electoral assistance from outside. The aim of electoral assistance should, therefore, be to achieve sustainable electoral development by helping emerging democracy building local capacity and share comparative experience in the field of election management.
While requests from developing democracies for electoral training assistance have been increasing, the training delivered has often been conducted by outside agencies in a reactive and uncoordinated fashion, with no common curriculum available.
In response to this need International IDEA (IDEA), the Australian Elections Commission (AEC), the United Nations Election Assistance Division (UN EAD) United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) have developed a comprehensive capacity-building training curriculum for electoral administrators called ‘Building Resources In Democracy, Governance, and Elections “BRIDGE“. The curriculum covers all aspect of elections and uses an activities-based adult learning methodology to build capacity and enhance professionalism. The training is global in scope and seeks to use comparative examples to illustrate options and best practice.
In recent years, a number of Arab countries have undertaken significant steps to strengthen their institutional capacity, which allowed them to reach important structural reforms and procedural improvements in the administration of their electoral processes. Significant indicators of this progress include the rise of independent election management commissions, electoral law reforms to improve participation of women, and – in notable cases – the conduct of competitive and credible elections. However, thus far, these reforms have remained purely isolated domestic experiments, with a very limited exposure both within the Arab world itself and at wider international level, which in most cases have taken individual countries as far as their internal capacities, experiences and resources allowed.
These issues prove to be central to the ongoing debate in Egypt regarding the electoral reform process. Since 2005, Egyptian voters have been called several times to cast ballots in different elections. These include parliamentary, presidential, Shura elections (upper house) as well as a referendum to approve amendments to the constitution allowing for the establishment of an independent EMB and paving the way for changing its existing electoral system. Nowadays, Egyptians prepare for the 2010 parliamentary election. This coming election, yet considered significant not only to election actors in specific and to Egyptian voter in general but also to international observers as the new 64 seats for women quota will be enforced for the first time.
This three-day BRIDGE training workshop comes as part of the current development and governance project “Fostering Democratization and Good Governance in Sinai, Egypt”. The project is being implemented by the National Development Foundation in Sinai and The Academy for International Development – Middle East.
2. Project summary
Lack of transparency, good governance and democracy constitute a major problem in Sinai. This problem led to cases of violence and extremism that threaten Sinai communities’ social and economic well being. The Academy for International Development – Middle East aims to address the pressing need to foster democratization and good governance in Sinai.
The project is to be carried out by the National Development Foundation that located in Sinai and aims at: develop and foster dialogue between the community, particularly with reference to young people and women and the public sector through strengthening local civil society organizations; increasing youth awareness of democratization and democratic principles; and supporting local governance and decentralization and promoting public accountability of city councils in Sinai. The expected outcomes of the project are: building the capacity of local civil society organizations; promote and foster democratic behaviour and public participation among youth; and increase public awareness of decentralization and development of system for accountability of the “City Councils” in Sinai. The National Development Foundation through its two training and employment centers will take over full responsibility to sustain the project after the planned twelve months. AID-ME will carry out a monitoring plan in which it will be responsible for submitting a quarter progress report to the funding agency for each three months during the implementation.
Absence of dialogue among public entities and deep seated differences between Sinai traditional tribal structures and the public sector have led to cases of violence and extremism that threaten Sinai communities’ social and economic well being. The feeling of isolation on the part of young people and the lack of suitable economic opportunities, combined with relatively low levels of development and inability to communicate with the public sector have led to a situation in which young people are incapable of communicating their needs constructively.
Accordingly, Academy for International Development – Middle East (AID-ME) is caring out a project for the development of good governance and a culture of democracy and dialogue in the governorates of South Sinai. This project comes as a response to AID-ME’s and its partner’s NGOs in South Sinai perception of a pressing need for greater transparency, civic participation, better governance and a culture of democratization in the region.
4. Project objectives
- Develop and foster dialogue between the community, particularly with reference to young people and women and the public sector through strengthening local civil society organizations;
- Increasing youth awareness of democratization and democratic principles
- Increase citizen participation in public life and political election
- Supporting local governance and decentralization and promoting public accountability of city councils in Sina
5. Expected Outcomes
- Building the capacity of local civil society organizations
- Promote and foster democratic behaviours and public participation among youth
- Increase citizen participation and voter turnout
- Increase public awareness of decentralization and development of system for accountability of the “City Councils”
6. Expected Outputs
- Three to five local civil society organizations in South of Sinai empowered enough and play the role of facilitator and of interlocutor between the communities and the public sector.
- Six to eight practical exercises of media campaigns organized and conducted by local NOGs each year of the project implementation.
- Youth and public of South Sinai awareness of democratic behavior and public participation raised.
- Six to eight BRIDGE training workshops for local NOGs, elected members of local councils in South Sinai;
- Increased public sector awareness of decentralization and the development of systems for accountability of the city councils
- Develop a development strategy for South Sinai using the concept of participatory planning and management with intensive public consultation.
- Design and implement three pilot projects selected by the community is jointly run by the public and private sectors and by civil society organizations.
This BRIDGE training workshop, the first for a series of BRIDGE workshops for local NGOs and elected members of local councils in Sinai, within the project was held from October 10 to October 12, 2010 at Mubark Public Library in Al Tur, South Sinai. The training course was designed to cover one BRIDGE module – Civic Education.
7. The Training Topics and Workshop Agenda
The training topics of this workshop showed a mix of new and old topics to the BRIDGE project in Egypt. Education level of participants was relatively modest. This fact required special preparation and attention in designing the training agenda as well as choosing the training materials.
The training workshop followed a BRIDGE workshop model of 3-day training workshop and proceeded by other 3-day planning and preparation. The training topics were carefully chosen with special attention to Egypt specific context.
8. Choosing and Producing The Training Materials
BRIDGE version 2 curriculum consists of 23 modules. The Arabic translation process of these modules is in ongoing. For that reason, a combination of version 1 (already translated) and version 2 materials was used in this training.
The production of the workshop materials started enough time before the workshop. Planning for this task also took in consideration the time needed for the proof reading of the translated text in accordance with the agreed BRIDGE terminology.
In addition to BRIDGE materials, the facilitator produced new materials for new activities as well as new background materials covering some of the course topics.
The materials in the participants’ folders were supplemented most effectively with copies of:
- The Egyptian Constitution,
- Electoral Law of Egypt,
- IDEA code of conduct for Political Parties,
- Egyptian State Information Service (SIS) old Voter’s guide for Parliamentary Elections 2005,
- Egyptian High Elections Commission’s guidelines for voting and counting procedures for 2010 Shura Council elections.
- Human Rights and Election manual.
9. The participants
Twenty five participants representing different NGOs registered and function in the city of Al-Tur in South Sinai participated in the 3-day training workshop. Thirteen out of the twenty-five participants were female participants with about more than fifty percent of the participants of women and the rest were men. The selection of participants was agreed upon with the head of the Training Department of the Academy of International Development – Middle East.
10. Facilitation Team
One accredited BRIDGE facilitator participated in the design and delivery of the workshop:
- Hassan Hussein – Cairo.
Below are some recommendations to the project partners:
- Partners of the project “Fostering Democratization and Good Governance in Sinai, Egypt” in direct consultation with the local NGOs and elected councils in the South Sinai, could consider organizing more BRIDGE workshops that involve together active members of local NGOs work on governance and public participation, together with other election actors in the city of Al-Tur in particular and South Sinai in General.
- The success of this BRIDGE training workshop, as the first BRIDGE training ever in Sinai, address the need for more BRIDGE trainings not only for the civil societies’ members but also for government officials and other election actors in Sinai.