Tuesday, September 26, 2006

PRAXIS AND INTRAC : Help For The NGO Developers

I found this on the web today:

"NGO leaders often face extraordinary challenges - both at a personal and organisational level. These challenges are demanding, and distinct from those faced by governments or the for-profit sector.

"NGO leaders are often isolated and unsupported. There is talk of a leadership deficit, because of the shortage of talented leaders and the growth of the non-profit sector generally. As a result there is some urgency in attempts to develop a new generation of leaders, and to provide relevant support to existing and future leaders. Leadership development programmes designed for NGO leaders must as a consequence incorporate best practice and current experience rather than rehashing tired, traditional approaches to leadership training.

"This Praxis Paper examines the role of leaders and leadership in NGOs. It draws on the analysis of recent research into the characteristics of NGO leaders, and explores the challenges of designing leadership development programmes appropriate to the needs of NGOs. This paper identifies the elements of successful leadership development, and assesses the skills or competencies that need be developed."

So, what, I wondered is Praxis? After a little searching I learned that

The Praxis Programme links with practitioners around the world to identify and share innovative approaches to organisational capacity building for NGOs. Praxis is a project of the International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC) .

INTRAC is a non-profit organisation working in the international development and relief sector. We support non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world by helping to explore policy issues, and by strengthening management and organisational effectiveness.

But back to Praxis:

INTRAC states that the "Praxis Programme is about enabling civil society organisations to become more effective by linking theory and practice - researchers and practitioners - in the field of organisational capacity building."

In particular, Praxis, which receives funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is about giving development practitioners with hands-on experience in different cultures and contexts an opportunity to share the solutions they develop in the course of their work.

The Praxis and INTRAC web sites are loaded with useful information for NGOs and the people involved with them.

Praxis has information on key topics on which they focus. They also have a dynamic, interactive hub for sharing experiences and learning, and you can download free Praxis Publications or search the Praxis Directory of Support Providers for organisations that are involved in capacity building in a your region. Finally, you can add your own organization to the list.

The Praxis web site can be found at: http://www.intrac.org/pages/praxis.html

I can't wrap up this posting without mentioning that I found Praxis in the first place through the Development Gateway http://www.developmentgateway.org/

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Aid Workers Network is a hub for aid workers where questions can be answered, perspectives can be communicated, and where Aid Workers can make connections with people who share similar interests and concerns. Aid Workers Network boasts over 10,000 members, and the state that new members join every week. Because so many Aid Workers come to this web site it provides a wealth of experience that one can access. Because so many Aid Workers face situations and problems that have been encountered and solved by other, Aid Workers Network provides a place where information and experiences can be shared to facilitate the efficacy of aid and relief work.

Aid Workers Network is a FREE service and is supported in part by Oxfam and the British Red Cross and they have over 2500 conversations that can be found in their forum on a large variety of topics of interest to Aid Workers.

The web site also contains Advice Pages that now cover over 50 core topics. The Advice Pages are accessible, no-nonsense guides to the day-to-day field reality relief and development workers face. They also invite participants to share a particular expertise that they may possess. Advice Pages

There is also an Exchange Email Bulletin that delivers what they describe as "punchy articles" from aid workers, that share good practice from the field. The Aid Workers Network encourages contributions to this Bulletin from its readers. Exchange Email Bulletin

Finally, the Aid Workers Network has collected the newest entries from what they believe to be the best aid Blogs worldwide and put them in one place. As with the Bulletins and Advice Pages, Aid Workers Network encourages its readers to identify their own Blogs or identify those that they find interesting. Blogs

Aid Workers Network

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Community Education and Development (CEDS) Services works with grassroots communities in Northwest Province and South Province of Cameroon, which have little or no access to the vast majority of NGO services available in the country. In addition to leadership training for grassroots women's groups, village councils, and national and regional organizations, CEDS carries out HIV/AIDS sensitization in prisons, post-primary institutions and rural communities. CEDS also conducts information communication technology (ICT) training for women at the WLP-CEDS Information Technology (IT) Center in Bamenda, Cameroon.

Leadership Workshops:
In cooperation with the Women's Leadership Project(WLP), CEDS ensures that leadership training is accessible to grassroots women in areas often neglected by large NGOs. CEDS has empowered women to mobilize collectively and cooperate on a diverse range of projects. In the equatorial forest, workshop participants in one community challenged a harmful cultural practice where girls were committed into marriage before they were born. In Nkambe, workshop participants launched the Nkambe Women's Credit Union to increase women's access to credit. Women who participated in leadership training in Ndop formed the Ngoketunjia Food Cooperative and started a rice hulling and packaging project. A year later, they had a positive balance in their account at the Bamunka Ndop Credit Union.

Learning Institutes for Women's Leadership and Training of Trainers:
Two representatives from CEDS participated in the Africa Learning Institute for Women's Leadership and Training of Trainers in Calabar, Nigeria in February 2005, along with 22 women NGO leaders from seven additional African countries - Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The goal was to strengthen participants' leadership capacity, equipping them with the tools to empower women to become effective decisionmakers in their families, communities, and societies. CEDS plans to conduct a National Institute for Women's Leadership and Training of Trainers in 2007, bringing together English and French speaking women NGO leaders from across the country.

ICT Capacity Building:
The WLP-CEDS IT Center in Bamenda, Cameroon has increased CEDS' organizational capacity by enabling better documentation of CEDS' activities and improving the ICT skills of CEDS' staff. ICT workshop participants are given individually tailored courses using a flexible training timetable to accommodate their work schedules. Participants are trained in the use of word processing, spreadsheet, database, and accounting tools, as well as the use of ICTs for research and advocacy. ICT workshop participants include NGO staff and local journalists. A senior journalist with the Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV) said, "CEDS' contribution to the education of women is critical because most women in the Northwest Province have not had access to computers." The IT Center will be expanded and upgraded during 2006.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

International Education Systems (IES) & UPHOLD: Forging Ahead In Education

The International Education Systems (IES) is a Division of Washington based Education Development Center (EDC) and provides services to education sector partners in developing countries.

IES currently serves 25 developing countries working on the development of education systems at the national level as well as on initiatives with limited scope and very specific purposes, such as small community-based learning systems.

IES' primary focus is on improving teaching and learning. The emphasis is usually basic literacy and numeracy for children and adults. In addition, they place importance on building life skills for orphans and other vulnerable children, on education about HIV/AIDS and systems that address its consequences, on early childhood development, and on ways to address the broader learning needs of communities.

IES staff members consider themselves to be leaders in the appropriate use of technology to address issues of access and quality. They use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as online learning portals and digital video to improve the exchange of skills and information. They also employ more traditional technologies such as radio to deliver interactive instruction where school systems have broken down or never existed, or to reach refugees, nomads and children who cannot afford to go to school. IES consists of four regional centers:

The organization has an Anglophone Africa Regional Center that is based in Nairobi and manages projects in Ghana, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. However IES also has projects in Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Somali.

One of IES's projects in Uganda is The Uganda Program for Human and Holistic Development (UPHOLD) . UPHOLD is "designed to assist Ugandans to offer and use quality social services in three sectors: education, health, and HIV/AIDS. As one of seven implementing partners, EDC is acting to improve student learning through the increased effectiveness of Ugandan primary schools. UPHOLD is training approximately three thousand Ugandan head teachers (principals) in active, student-centered teaching methods."

Below is a description of one of the activities of UPHOLD as presented on the IES web site. (This can be found at: http://ies.edc.org/projects/UPHOLD_HIVAIDS.htm)

Bringing Us Closer: Primary School Teachers Receive Training in Teaching about HIV/AIDS Prevention

The Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy for Communication to Youth (PIASCY) worked with UPHOLD to orient over 45,000 teachers to HIV/AIDS education

An AIDS Strategy for Youth

USAID, through the UPHOLD Project, was privileged to support the Government of Uganda to scale-up PIASCY to primary school teachers. Between June and December 2004, UPHOLD oriented 45,721 teachers from 15,890 primary schools in 56 districts on PIASCY and how to implement it in their schools.

Since the mid 1980s, Uganda has demonstrated impressive reductions in HIV/AIDS transmission, often attributed to national leadership in acknowledging the disease, open communication about it and swift action at all levels. In recognition that the majority of Ugandans are youth and the younger generations continue to require good information about HIV/AIDS and skills to respond, PIASCY is the Presidential Initiative to promote positive behaviors to young people.

The first component of PIASCY revolves around school assemblies and complementary classroom lessons on a set of 26 messages. To achieve these activities, teachers must be knowledgeable about the topics and comfortable discussing them with pupils.

The vast majority of HIV infections in Uganda are spread through sexual transmissions. However, the subject of sex, central to information about HIV/AIDS prevention and transmission, is still a cultural taboo to discuss. Teachers often find it difficult to talk about with anyone, much less with their pupils, for a variety of reasons:

most teachers lack detailed information about the disease and, therefore, the confidence to raise the issue without being able to answer questions;
others fear that parents will hold them responsible for bringing up inappropriate subjects in the classroom;
some teachers know or fear that they are infected; and
still others feel ashamed to advise pupils to do the very behaviors that they themselves practice.

Teacher Orientation and Training
Orientations - The Ministry of Education & Sports developed training materials and trained national facilitators to orient teachers. USAID contributed through UPHOLD to roll-out the strategy to the school level. Alice Ibale, Programme Manager, and Madina Nakibirige, Programme Assistant, worked through the Teacher Development and Management System (TDMS), which coordinates all primary schools through core Primary Teachers' Colleges (PTC), to develop the orientations with principals from 23 core PTCs and District Education Offices.

Three teachers from each primary school participated for two days. They received the manuals and became familiar with the contents. During the process, discussions about current practices in the school setting began. Teachers and district officials were pleased with achievements. More than 45,000 teachers from 15,890 primary schools in all 56 districts participated. Both public and private school sent teachers so that the over seven million children in primary schools will benefit from teacher orientations. Most teachers responded enthusiastically; many reflected upon the current situation in schools and planned what they would do to protect children. In addition, teachers shared that the orientations renewed their commitment to advise pupils and act as positive role models.

The roll-out was completed within six months, compared to the anticipated 11 months for implementation, and at a considerably lower cost than expected. Use of the existing TDMS system increased coverage, effectiveness and speed of delivery. Collaboration between education and district officials ensured that all partners felt ownership over the activity; which made it acceptable to teachers to use the information. This set a foundation for sustainability in the future.

Next Steps
Formalize how children will be protected at school. Teachers shared current contexts in schools related to defilement, which is common throughout the country. Violators are rarely prosecuted, despite the Teacher Code of Conduct and awareness of their fellow teachers and parents. One case in Kamuli District involved a Head Teacher who was harassed by community members for reporting a teacher who defiled a pupil to the police. They also generated ideas about what could be done to protect pupils.
Involve parents and other community members to help form attitudes and values, and protect children at home. Parents influence what can successfully happen at school and are the most influential people in children's lives in forming values, attitudes and practices. What parents believe and do can protect children or put them at risk.
Promote female teacher or adult participation. There are far fewer female teachers than male teachers, especially in rural areas. In some rural schools there are no female teachers. This may affect implementation of PIASCY at school, especially related to information for girls.
Update data on schools and teachers. The activity founds that Ministry of Education & Sports databases on services available and district records were not up-to-date, which resulted in fewer training materials and a shortage in budget plans for each district.

For more information about this UPHOLD project, please contact:

Kent Noel, Senior Project Director, knoel@edc.org

Michael Cacich, Project Director, mcacich@edc.org

Abdenour Boukamhi, Project Coordinator, aboukamhi@edc.org.