Life Changing Experiences in Pretoria

10 May 2012


As part of its ongoing project in Africa International IDEA organised a BRIDGE Train the facilitators Course in English from 12-23 March 2012 which was held in Pretoria, South Africa

The training organised by International IDEA and is part the project “BRIDGE Capacity-Building Training for Election Management Bodies in Africa: Support to the IDEA – African Union Joint Activity Plan 2011 – 2013”. It is funded by AusAID through its African Governance Fund.

Four BRIDGE facilitators participated in the preparation and delivery of the course:

 1. Sibongile Zimemo – Accrediting Facilitator – (Consultant; South Africa – South African)
 2. Zefanias Matsimbe – Accrediting Facilitator –  (Consultant; South Africa – Mozambican)
 3. Ola Pettersson – Workshop Facilitator –  (Consultant; Sweden – Swedish)
 4. Revai Albaeck – Workshop Facilitator – (Consultant; South Africa –  Zimbabwean)

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.

Twenty participants (9 Females and 11 Males) participated in the workshop.

The countries represented were as follows:
1. Botswana 
2. Malawi
3. Mauritius 
4. Namibia 
5. South Africa 
6. Swaziland 
7. Zambia 
8. Zimbabwe 

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 participants, many coming from a training and/or teaching background, quickly caught on with the BRIDGE methodology and excelled in facilitation of sessions and delivery of ice-breakers and energizers. The facilitator team had the pleasure of watching every participant develop and grow during the two weeks of the training. All twenty participants departed with a well-deserved semi-accredited status and with the intentions of pursuing towards full accreditation through organizing BRIDGE in their own countries.
Participants clearly appreciated the training, many of them referring to it as a “eye opener” and a “life-changing experience”. One participant said she “enjoyed each and every moment and look forward to using BRIDGE methodology and training techniques in my traing programmes.”
One aspect that clearly came out was the importance of positive feedback, which helped to boost confidence and improve facilitation skills of the participants. As stated by one participant: “The feedback and comments made me realise that I would become a very good facilitator with more confidence and I really appreciate that.”

The workshop ended on day 10 with a speech by the representative of the Australian Embassy in South Africa Mr Frank Thompson, First Secretary, followed by a certificate ceremony and the official closing of the programme by Margot Gould, Programme Officer, International IDEA.

The IDEA BRIDGE project has a monitoring and evaluation component that is designed to evaluate the actual impact of BRIDGE training when participants get back home to their organisations.

The current M&E system is being piloted for the first time in this project. It is an online system and allows participant to log onto the system to complete each component of the M&E process. In addition project staff and facilitators are also able to log onto the online system and see each participant’s profile and M&E components.

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