A Training Programme for Government Officials of Afghanistan
Below is a report on a training programme that CCMG, in collaboration with UNDP, organized at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi for select officials of the Afghanistan Government from September 23 to October 4, 2013.
The Centre for Culture, Media and Governance (CCMG), Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi in collaboration with the UNDP, Afghanistan organised a two-week training programme titled “Communication Strategies for Legal Awareness” from September 23 to October 4, 2013. The programme was organised to give government officials from Afghanistan a background in the communication skills required for public legal awareness and enhance their capacity and knowledge to engage with social issues in a multi-stakeholder environment. The programme was conducted by the CCMG team and experts in specific fields consisting of academics, senior bureaucrats, media professionals, legal experts and social activists. A variety of methods such as lecture, discussion, workshop, film screening, field visit, and presentation were deployed to impart training to the visitors.
Hon’ble VC Prof. S.M. Sajid at the inaugural session of the training programme
The Afghan officials came from ministries and departments as diverse as the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Human Rights, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and the Ministry of Women Affairs and also representatives from the media in Afghanistan. This made the task of training difficult, as it had to address diverse issues that trainees had pertaining to their respective areas of work. To overcome this problem, the topic of “Communication Strategies for Legal Awareness” addressed the broader concerns faced by every official and media personnel not just in Afghanistan but in all developing countries.
The programme emphasised the innovations for creating legal awareness that not only help to bring justice to people but also made them legally empowered and how media can play a decisive and significant role in giving voice to the voiceless and bringing justice. The objective of the training programme was to enhance the skills of the trainees and to sensitise them to communication tools and media to bring about legal awareness, to deliver justice and to empower the people of their nation.
Before the training programme started, the CCMG team assessed the trainees’ knowledge in the area and identified some of their concerns. Several trainees were aware of different communication channels in their society, such as newspapers, television, radio, mobile phones and the Internet. They were also aware of the importance of communicating with people, the need for collaboration and the need for public participation in order to implement their policies and programmes. The gaps were in selecting the optimal communication channel, recognising the value of institutions in building/consolidating an emerging society and knowledge about the various stakeholders in designing communication strategies. The trainees expressed their difficulties in trying to reach out to the people in their society.
The inaugural session is in progress
The post-training programme evaluation revealed that
- Trainees learnt the communication skills required to design effective communication strategies in their respective ministries and organisations. There was also a change in their perspective and they learnt to appreciate the value of collaboration both within the ministries as well as with non-state actors in order to reach the larger public with limited resources.
- They learnt how to develop a positive perception among the public and in the global arena. This is important in the context of a post-conflict society like Afghanistan where certain forces are still vying for political power and trying to win the support of the people. The trainees acquired the skills of persuasive communication or the ways to persuade others by using combination of approaches.
- They learnt how to design inspirational messages to motivate people. To disseminate their messages, they realized that they should first create a handful of motivated workers or local leaders in each locality who can liaise between the government and society.
The trainees examined the available media channels and understood how each can be used to reach out to the public. For example, newspapers are effective for a literate group, but radio and television can be used to communicate with both the literate and illiterate sections of society. The trainees found that mobile phones could be a useful channel in Afghan society. They learnt how to mobilise workers and local leaders through mobile phones by first exchanging mobile numbers and preparing lists of workers/local leaders with their phone numbers. After that, messages can be passed up and down the chain through voice and text messaging. Trainees learnt the importance of sending workers inspirational messages, talking points, tasks, target dates, and directions about how to implement a particular policy or programme.
A session of the training programme is in progress
The trainees learnt to prepare a holistic communication plan that included the media, civil society groups, people’s organisations, civil associations, NGOs, opinion leaders, and academia. Thus, they learnt the value of public-private partnerships in achieving social development. At the same time, they learnt how to strengthen the role of institutions in Afghan society and promote transparency and accountability.
The field visit to the Human Rights Law Network helped the trainees understand the value of making interventions on behalf of ordinary citizens through legal means. They got exposed to the ways to provide legal aid to the poor and the marginalised groups so as to enhance their trust in the existing system. The trainees also learnt that legal means are just one way of making an intervention and it is very important to adopt multiple strategies such as advocacy and grassroots campaigns to bring wider social change.
Finally, they learnt the importance of continuous feedback and evaluation during the programme. Invariably, communication breaks down and people do not receive the original or intended messages. Any communication plan should include both formal and informal channels of feedback that will help identify the point where communication got distorted and how it can be improved.
A group photo of the Afghan officials and the CCMG faculty members
The following Afghanistan officials participated in the training programme:
- Mr. Abdull Rahman Azimi (Ministry of Justice)
- Mr. Hedayatullah Hafiz (Ministry of Interior)
- Mr. Mohammad Ali s/o Mohammad Ibrahim (Ministry of social Affairs)
- Mr. Mohammad Ibrahim s/o Mohammad Noor (Ministry of Hajj)
- Ms. Nasrin D/o Juma Khan (National Radio television)
- Ms. Qandigul Kazimi ( Ministry of woman’s Affairs)
- Mr. Abdul Azim (Ministry of Higher Education)
- Mr. Rafiullah Bidar (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission),(AIHRC)
- Mr. Karimullah s/o Mohammad Aziz (Tolo News)