NEC conducts BRIDGE Training
Seventeen staff of the National Electoral Commission were from the 6th – 22nd August trained in BRIDGE through support from UNDP’s Inclusive Participation in Governance Programme (IPG). BRIDGE meaning "Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections", is the most comprehensive professional development course available in election administration. Its goal is to promote and support democracy, good governance through multi-stakeholders learning, dialogue and networking.
To date, it has been conducted in over 30 countries for more than 2,000 people. It improves the skills, knowledge, and confidence both of election professionals and of key stakeholders in the electoral process, such as members of the media, political parties, and electoral observers. As part of this initiative and in preparation for next year’s parliamentary elections, the Rwanda National Electoral Commission (NEC) organized these sessions for its staff who graduated with semi-accreditation during a ceremony held at Le Printemps Hotel. Two of the participants got full accreditation through conducting a BRIDGE modular workshop after a Train the Facilitator workshop. Among the modules covered by the participants include polling, counting and results.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, the UNDP Country Director Auke Lootsma noted that the work covered during the three weeks BRIDGE session was critical for Parliamentary democracy in Rwanda in general and the upcoming elections in September 2013 in particular. “It is not enough for us to be confident that we are doing everything we can to make the system as safe as possible. The voters need to be confident as well and hence we have to take public concern seriously and where there are real vulnerabilities in the system, we need to tackle them. Making our electoral registration system more secure is one example of that”.
He further said that the National Electoral Commission with support from the International community has come to be regarded as a competent Electoral Management Body very capable of organizing free, fair and credible elections. “I am confident that NEC will meet the international standards for the next parliamentary elections”, he added.
The Executive Secretary of NEC Charles Munyaneza said the training was meant to equip electoral officials with more knowledge on election processes and procedures. “You know, one of the responsibilities of the Electoral Commission is to conduct civic education programmes, to educate our people on how to conduct themselves during the elections and how to vote. So, it is in this regard we organised this workshop,” Munyaneza said.
“What has been acquired during this training will no doubt go a long way in cementing our democracy and governance as an institution that has been charged with managing elections in this country”, he said.
“We have been thinking of the way forward as the electoral commission and we aspire before the end of the financial year to hold similar trainings for our commissioners. We believe it is very important and vital that our commissioners get some basic technical skills in managing elections, especially because we are going to have new ones coming in so that these are better positioned to provide the necessary guidance, communication and political direction to our technical staff”, Munyaneza said.
“It is also our mission to continue increasing our accredited facilitators. Today 2 have been fully accredited and 15 semi-accredited but we wish to have at least 10 of them fully accredited before the end of the year and we are going to work towards that starting with this group here today”, he promised.
The Executive Secretary also revealed that NEC plans to roll out the training to the field staff and also for the election coordinator’s at village level such that half of NEC’s staff is trained by September next year. The aim is to have a Training of Trainers in order to spread the BRIDGE training across Rwanda as much as possible.