Training activities that are changing the world

There are currently 17 different bodies organising ITP programmes in Sweden on themes that cover a wide variety of specialist orientations in the fields of science, statistics, economics, and social studies. As one of the biggest organisers of ITP programmes in Sweden, with seven different programmes in Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa and Asia, ICLD was involved in drawing up the programme for the organiser meeting at SIDA held at the end of January.

The aim of the day, in addition to creating an opportunity for the various organisers to meet and exchange ideas on the special pedagogic challenges entailed in running ITP programmes, was to show off ITP as a form of aid for people in general, and SIDA people in particular, who work with other aspects of the Swedish foreign aid system.

Some of the important themes discussed during the day included the importance of adapting the training in line with the participants’ local contexts, and the degree to which organisers should think in terms of critical mass when deciding the number of countries from which to accept ITP delegates. The critical mass hypothesis says that it is only when there are a sufficient number of delegates from the same place that the training achieves maximum impact. The debate as to whether a critical mass exists and, if so, the form it takes, is a highly topical one right now amongst those of us working with ITP, and SIDA regards thinking in these sort of terms as important when recruiting new delegates to the international training programmes, etc.

Some of the ITP organisers were given the chance to talk about their experiences and the challenges they face during the meeting and as part of the exhibition held in the Oasis facility at SIDA during the day. One of the higher profile ICLD programmes is the one designed to capacitate political leadership for women – “Local Political Leaders – Capacitating Women in Politics”. The training programme, which will soon be entering its fifth round, has, to date, empowered 100 leading elected female politicians in 20 or so countries. Kristin Ekström, who is responsible for the programme, shared her experience of the impact of the programme and the potential for capacitating leadership amongst women elected to political positions at local level worldwide, and the networks that are being formed and which enable more equitable representation. The theme of the day was Partnership, and Kristin highlighted the importance of the partnerships between Swedish politicians and the participants in ICLD’s programmes. One of the most important lessons learned from the programme is how vital cooperation across party and block boundaries is – something that the Swedish politicians are inspiring the programme’s delegates to do on their home ground.

The delegates to the meeting also attended an interactive theatrical presentation focusing on equality issues. This type of theatre gives the audience the chance to react and interact with the performers. The company behind the presentation, and who gave the audience a taste of innovative pedagogic methods, was Stockholms Teateria AB.

Four presentations were held on SIDA’s Oasis stage, where the organisers had also set up stands to hand out information about their own programmes. One of the day’s presentations was given by an agent for change trained by ICLD, namely Irena Lakobrija Delic from the Vračar district of Belgrade. Irena took part in the first round of ICLD’s “Local Governance with a Rights Based Approach” programme, and conducted a successful development project within the framework of the programme – addressing the development of a more equitable interaction with the district’s inhabitants. Many of SIDA’s employees visited the ITP organisers’ stands and viewed the presentations.

Last year, SIDA stressed the importance of integrating a more widespread promotion of equality and combatting corruption into the international training programmes, and ICLD has taken this on board. ICLD’s ITP unit has, for example, made corruption a priority theme for 2017. This year, SIDA is stressing critical mass and adaption to local contexts as important areas for development within ITP – an approach which is very much in line with the developmental work being done at ICLD.